f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

April 12, 2004

Has Your Weblog Attracted Clients?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 3:54 pm

It’s no secret that I’m skeptical about the ability of weblogs to attract clients to lawyers.  The topic is at the forefront of my mind lately, because Kevin O’Keefe announced the launching of lexBlog Inc.and its website from his own weblog Real Lawyers Have Blogs over the weekend.  LexBlog offers complete “turnkey” services to set up and maintain weblogs for lawyers — including content.

With this post, I hope to attract Comments from lawyers with weblogs, to learn their experience with this issue; clients who have found and hired a lawyer because of his or her weblog are also invited to Comment.

You can find links and brief excerpts from prior postings about selling weblogs as a marketing tool, at the asterisk below.  Kevin and I have had an ongoing, friendly disagreement on the topic.  I’m asking for your help, because there seems to be no useful evidence (nor anecdotes) supporting the theory that any significant number of consumers or businesses seeking legal services have found a provider through a law firm weblog.  Perhaps Kevin has such evidence; if he does, I hope he posts it at his website.
podium neg flip Talking about the creation of lexBlog, Kevin wrote two weeks ago that “I’ve played with blogs long enough to know they work to establish one as an authority (assuming you know something about what you blog about) and work to bring in new clients.” (emphasis added) Also, the very first line of content on lexBlog’s homepage proclaims “More effective than advertising,” while the first example of what you can “easily” do with your weblog is “cultivate new business ”  Inside the the site, on the page describing their services, the bold-print caption says:
A lawyer’s most powerful marketing tool.

The lexBlog solution for image building, promotion & PR.


Reputation by Proxy? LexBlog offers a number of levels of service, including the provision of lots of content.  It promises “If you do not have the time to publish content lexBlog will do it for you.”  For instance, in a section called Get Content!, we learn:



[W]e get your specific legal content flowing. We’ll give you professionally written, edited and selected text for:



  • An overview of law relating to your particular legal specialty. It’s targeted to consumers or businesses or both — or to the audience you identify.
  • Regularly updated content by separate categories:
    • Updates on law relating to your firm’s specialty
    • News stories relating to your specialty
    • Commentary, analysis and suggested action from lawyers
    • Lawyer/firm activities


Also, the page explaining lexBlog’s Premium plan begins (emphases added):




Solidify reputation as trusted expert


This is the plan that will utterly solidify your reputation as a trusted expert in your field and locale. With our Premium service, you’re launched to the forefront of your area of practice, perceived as a leading authority by the public, colleagues, the media and clients.



newspaper . . . We’ll constantly post news stories and legal updates relating to your area of expertise, and if relevant, your locale. We’ll complement that with posts on relevant topics we receive from your trade journals, email newsletters, listservs, bar section magazines, CLE materials, blogs and Web sites.


We’ll encourage you and show you how to easily complement our posts with your own insights and analysis — and infinitely valuable service to the public, media, colleagues and prospective clients.


One final excerpt from the lexBlog site:  Here’s a quote that is highlighted on the Premium service page; it’s by Rebecca Blood author of The Weblog Handbook, who is talking about weblogs in general (emphases added):



“Make no mistake this stuff works. I’ve seen businesses, especially individuals make names for themselves, going from unknown to ‘expert’ in a year by providing a hub of information about a specific profession. When a reader’s first impulse about wanting information about a given subject is to visit a topic-driven weblog, it is a small leap to hire its editor to speak, consult, or otherwise practice their craft when the need arises.


[Follow-up (04-12-04): Here are the two sentences just prior to the above quote, in author Blood’s section about Reputation Building (at page 63) (emphasis added):



By maintaining a weblog that is tightly focused on a particular subject, these weblog editors educate themselves by searching the Web daily for news and information pertinent to their area of expertise, exercising judgment in weighing the relevance or importance of what they find, and articulating their thoughts on links that they decide to include, either by summarizing the article or by analyzing the material presented.   It is what experts do, and this practice will speed anyone’s progress to that end.]

When you Comment here about client-generation, I hope you’ll also express your feelings on what I call the “absentee weblogger” and lawyer reputation-building by proxy.
Before ending, I must note that lexBlog offers a Guaranty, which is a very good sign of Kevin’s good faith belief in his product: “If at the end of six months you are not satisfied with lexBlog’s product or service, you may terminate our relationship and ask for the return of any portion of the payments you made to lexBlog which you believe is fair. No questions asked.”  Maybe we can dig up some useful examples of marketing success by lawyers with weblogs.  We need your input to do it.



*key neg



  • Most “buzz” starts with people with a financial or emotional stake in the “next new thing,” and is then amplified in their own echo chambers.   Those who believe the buzz very often get stung.   As I’ve been opining here, no amount of cyber-smoke or number-mumbo-jumbo can cover up the fact that the jury is just starting to deliberate (and has almost no evidence to consider) on whether lawyers can effectively use weblogs to increase clientele and profits.  There are a lot of other good reasons to start weblogs, but income generation is not a realistic near-term goal for the vast majority of webloggers.  Thankyou, Carolyn [Elefant], for your cautious approach.

    1. [I]t’s foolhardy for anyone to gauge the marketing value of a weblog (or the professional qualities of its editor) by giving any significant credence to its “web traffic” figures, whether counted as “page hits” or “individual visitors”.  For weblog boosters to suggest otherwise seems — to me — to be very misleading.
    2. We need to be far less effusive in “selling” the importance  of weblogs as a marketing tool — at least until we can gauge whether the “visitors” are human and the humans are doing any buying.
    1. Despite my esteem for Jerry [Lawson] and Kevin, I must protest that the notion of creating content for weblogs — especially postings — threatens to turn weblogs into merely a marketing tool, as opposed to being a special, personal platform that is also a marketing tool.
    2. One final consumer advocate question:  If the lawyers who are the market for vended weblogs don’t have enough time to produce the weblog themselves, just where are they going to find the time to give competent and diligent service to the expected flood of new clients?
    1. I’ve never said they can’t possibly work to bring in clients — I’ve said that merely spouting the buzz about all the added “traffic” is inherently misleading without a lot of caveats, not only because no one knows what the traffic number signify, but because no one can even point to anecdotal evidence of a significant number of weblawg success stories for bringing in clients (as opposed to ambiguous page-hits).”
    2. As I suggested in my post about ghost-written weblogs, . . a weblawg that has most of the activities you prescribe done by someone other than the purported lawyer-author is in many ways misleading.

  • If You Link Them, They Will Come (we hope):  Kevin O’Keefe believes that topic-specific weblogs, with practical, Plain English advice, are the most likely to generate legal clients.  (Despite our exhausting Resource Pages, he doesn’t consider ethicalEsq to be more than a soapbox).  So, I’m gonna ask my weblogging colleagues to drop us a line. [Thanks Ernie for compiling this great list of links!!]


    50 Comments

    1. Anyone doing criminal law who expects to get a lot of business from his blawg is not thinking straight. It may help with professional reputation but I’ve not gotten a single client from it. Lots of requests for free advise but nobody who’s paying me anything.

      Comment by ken — April 12, 2004 @ 10:11 pm

    2. Anyone doing criminal law who expects to get a lot of business from his blawg is not thinking straight. It may help with professional reputation but I’ve not gotten a single client from it. Lots of requests for free advise but nobody who’s paying me anything.

      Comment by ken — April 12, 2004 @ 10:11 pm

    3. I’m sitting here smiling at the thought of various stock characters surfing the web looking for just the right criminal defense lawyer — for the next time they need one or for right this minute. “I get one phone call to my ISP, don’t I Sarge?” Thanks for sharing your wise(guy) counsel, Ken.

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 12, 2004 @ 11:00 pm

    4. I’m sitting here smiling at the thought of various stock characters surfing the web looking for just the right criminal defense lawyer — for the next time they need one or for right this minute. “I get one phone call to my ISP, don’t I Sarge?” Thanks for sharing your wise(guy) counsel, Ken.

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 12, 2004 @ 11:00 pm

    5. David,
      Thanks for the invitation to this party. I am curious to hear the results – and I’ll link up at myshingle tomorrow because this is a constantly-pondered question asked by solos. But more to the point, here’s my full disclosure. My law firm website, http://www.his.com/israel/loce was one of the first generation of lawyer sites – on line in January 1996. I added a renewable energy weblog/combination newsletter in February 2002  www.renewablesoffshore.blogspot.com) though I have to admit that I have not updated it as regularly as I would like. I also do not actively market my firm website through Google ad words; essentially, I include my URL on business cards, at speeches, etc…In any event, during this time, I have generated two small paying clients and a pretty good contingency matter, still ongoing. Two of these are attributable to the website alone and one was likely driven to the site due to the weblog. However, my web log and website have gotten me other benefits in my field: this past October, I spent three days at Woods Hole at a (fully paid) symposium on offshore wind with experts from all over the world. Though many other US firms much larger than mine are starting to get involved in offshore wind, the conference learned about me through the web log and then linked into my website with all the resources. No clients from that event but it was incredibly enjoyable and also lead to another local speaking gig. More recently, I have been invited to participate in a book project by someone who knows of my offshore web log and website and I was also asked to provide comment and input on an executive commission report in my field. I would never have gotten this kind of attention without the internet which is neat, albeit not billable. As for http://www.myshingle.com, here, I have been less fortunate. I had hoped that running a web log on solo and small firm issues would be of interest to the other media outlets that deal with small firm issues but apparently, it is not. Still, as a result of the site, I am frequently asked to comment on various articles or give sound bites on web logs, etc…Of course, myshingle is a different type of web log in the sense that it does not directly promote my law firm but rather furthers my side interest of trying to expand access to law to the general public by helping solos and small firm practitioners to improve the quality of their work and ultimately run successful and professional practices. The test of my success is not how many clients I attract but how many lawyers go solo or learn a thing or two from my site.

      Comment by Carolyn Elefant — April 13, 2004 @ 3:27 am

    6. David,
      Thanks for the invitation to this party. I am curious to hear the results – and I’ll link up at myshingle tomorrow because this is a constantly-pondered question asked by solos. But more to the point, here’s my full disclosure. My law firm website, http://www.his.com/israel/loce was one of the first generation of lawyer sites – on line in January 1996. I added a renewable energy weblog/combination newsletter in February 2002  www.renewablesoffshore.blogspot.com) though I have to admit that I have not updated it as regularly as I would like. I also do not actively market my firm website through Google ad words; essentially, I include my URL on business cards, at speeches, etc…In any event, during this time, I have generated two small paying clients and a pretty good contingency matter, still ongoing. Two of these are attributable to the website alone and one was likely driven to the site due to the weblog. However, my web log and website have gotten me other benefits in my field: this past October, I spent three days at Woods Hole at a (fully paid) symposium on offshore wind with experts from all over the world. Though many other US firms much larger than mine are starting to get involved in offshore wind, the conference learned about me through the web log and then linked into my website with all the resources. No clients from that event but it was incredibly enjoyable and also lead to another local speaking gig. More recently, I have been invited to participate in a book project by someone who knows of my offshore web log and website and I was also asked to provide comment and input on an executive commission report in my field. I would never have gotten this kind of attention without the internet which is neat, albeit not billable. As for http://www.myshingle.com, here, I have been less fortunate. I had hoped that running a web log on solo and small firm issues would be of interest to the other media outlets that deal with small firm issues but apparently, it is not. Still, as a result of the site, I am frequently asked to comment on various articles or give sound bites on web logs, etc…Of course, myshingle is a different type of web log in the sense that it does not directly promote my law firm but rather furthers my side interest of trying to expand access to law to the general public by helping solos and small firm practitioners to improve the quality of their work and ultimately run successful and professional practices. The test of my success is not how many clients I attract but how many lawyers go solo or learn a thing or two from my site.

      Comment by Carolyn Elefant — April 13, 2004 @ 3:27 am

    7. David, I side with Carolyn on this topic, as I also do not blog to drive business to my firm, but rather to publicly ponder the issues that have been rattling around in my head for quite some time. That said, I do think weblogs can drive business to lawyers, if for no other reason besides Google loves weblogs — and often ranks them more highly than other sites. Having a regularly updated weblog with interesting, topical information not only can make you an “authority” as Kevin suggests, but also can move your site higher in any Google search for the key words you blog about. For example, if you had titled your weblog “Ethical Lawyer” instead of EthicalEsq., I am certain than anyone searching for an “ethical lawyer” on Google would see your site first. Whether that person would become a client depends on your site and if you are able to offer them something they need. One final point, at last year’s ABA’s Techshow, Greg Siskind of VisaLaw.com was talking about how, several years ago, he started an online “diary” of updates to various immigration issues. He is now one of the top immigration lawyers in the country. His was not a “blog” as the term wasn’t around then, but it would be considered one today.

      Comment by Matthew Homann — April 13, 2004 @ 11:10 am

    8. David, I side with Carolyn on this topic, as I also do not blog to drive business to my firm, but rather to publicly ponder the issues that have been rattling around in my head for quite some time. That said, I do think weblogs can drive business to lawyers, if for no other reason besides Google loves weblogs — and often ranks them more highly than other sites. Having a regularly updated weblog with interesting, topical information not only can make you an “authority” as Kevin suggests, but also can move your site higher in any Google search for the key words you blog about. For example, if you had titled your weblog “Ethical Lawyer” instead of EthicalEsq., I am certain than anyone searching for an “ethical lawyer” on Google would see your site first. Whether that person would become a client depends on your site and if you are able to offer them something they need. One final point, at last year’s ABA’s Techshow, Greg Siskind of VisaLaw.com was talking about how, several years ago, he started an online “diary” of updates to various immigration issues. He is now one of the top immigration lawyers in the country. His was not a “blog” as the term wasn’t around then, but it would be considered one today.

      Comment by Matthew Homann — April 13, 2004 @ 11:10 am

    9. Thank you, Carolyn and Matt, for taking the time to leave such full, considered comments. I have no doubt that weblogs can build reputations (and ethicalEsq has always come out at or near the top of most web search results for terms relating to ethics and law/lawyers; of course, I am not seeking clients and won’t accept them). What I do not hear about is any trend connecting the weblog reputation with actually attracting clients — as opposed to wishful thinking. I have asked for such examples several times at this site, and virtually all the responses that I have received have said “lots of exposure, and requests for appearances or articles and free advice, but no paying clients.”

      There are many ways that lawyers build reputations, many of which result in clients. I wonder how much Greg Siskind attributes his reputation and actual success garnering clients to his website. More important here, I wonder what you two webloggers and other readers think about acquiring a “reputation” by buying the content. What will happen when visitors to a weblog can’t be sure if the “Editor” has actually supplied the information and commentary?

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 13, 2004 @ 11:41 am

    10. Thank you, Carolyn and Matt, for taking the time to leave such full, considered comments. I have no doubt that weblogs can build reputations (and ethicalEsq has always come out at or near the top of most web search results for terms relating to ethics and law/lawyers; of course, I am not seeking clients and won’t accept them). What I do not hear about is any trend connecting the weblog reputation with actually attracting clients — as opposed to wishful thinking. I have asked for such examples several times at this site, and virtually all the responses that I have received have said “lots of exposure, and requests for appearances or articles and free advice, but no paying clients.”

      There are many ways that lawyers build reputations, many of which result in clients. I wonder how much Greg Siskind attributes his reputation and actual success garnering clients to his website. More important here, I wonder what you two webloggers and other readers think about acquiring a “reputation” by buying the content. What will happen when visitors to a weblog can’t be sure if the “Editor” has actually supplied the information and commentary?

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 13, 2004 @ 11:41 am

    11. Yes, I have gotten clients as a result of my website.

      Comment by Martin Schwimmer — April 13, 2004 @ 11:49 am

    12. Yes, I have gotten clients as a result of my website.

      Comment by Martin Schwimmer — April 13, 2004 @ 11:49 am

    13. I have no clients who were drawn to me by way of the blog. Some local lawyers read the blog and continue to refer business to me – because or in spite of the blog. What I learn from the reading I do for the blog has contributed to my practice and my work for clients, but the blog itself is only incidental to that process. If it was not fun, there would be no blog.

      Comment by Steve — April 13, 2004 @ 12:55 pm

    14. I have no clients who were drawn to me by way of the blog. Some local lawyers read the blog and continue to refer business to me – because or in spite of the blog. What I learn from the reading I do for the blog has contributed to my practice and my work for clients, but the blog itself is only incidental to that process. If it was not fun, there would be no blog.

      Comment by Steve — April 13, 2004 @ 12:55 pm

    15. David,

      Thanks for the mentioning of lexBlog’s launching. Fully understand the reservations of you and others that blogs will draw clients.

      Few points. One – a blog is lawyer’s Web site to me –it’s their front door, their suite of clothes. It needs to look professional for clients to jump from reading helpful information on the blog to calling the lawyer. Most lawyer blogs do not even look as good lawyer Web sites – which as a group look pretty bad.

      Second it depends what you blog. Limit blogging to practical info that will make a difference in people’s lives and update the law and news on related topics and you have something as a marketing tool. On the net the rule is “You can everything you want so long as you help enough other people get everything they want.”

      Existing lawyer blogs tend not to be local and niche specific either by title or items posted. As a result they are not coming up on top of search engines. Lawyers get results from search engine traffic, especially in personal plight areas of practice.

      Talked to a lawyer in Florida a week ago that thought blogs were best thing since sliced bread. He is coming up first in search results and obtaining 2 to 3 new clients a week. Remember lawyers like this do not get up on their roof tops and tell the competition what is working.

      Here’s some stats from recent study on large firms getting clients from sites:

      1) 73% of law firms acknowledge having generated new clients whose first awareness of their firm was through its website.

      2) In recent studies, in-house counsel say that they turn to websites twice as often as printed marketing materials when selecting a law firm.

      3) 38% of in-house counsel search the web at least once a week in search of outside counsel. Almost 80% are using search engines.

      4) When selecting outside law firms, general counsel say that a poor website is a reason some law firms aren’t considered at all.

      In 1996 lawyers questioned value of these funny looking Web sites. Most sites up then did not do a lick for a lawyer’s business. A few us invested some money in nice looking Web sites, filled them with a ton of helpful content and were there at people’s beckon call to interact with them and answer the questions they had. We got a lot of new clients as a result.

      Blogs are the same. They are just a data base driven content management tool that runs a Web site. If a lawyer’s blog is not drawing clients, and that was the lawyers goal (and in the case of many fine lawyers, it’s not) it is not the tool being used that’s the problem, it is the manner in which the tool is being used.

      At a time when lawyers have an awful reputation we should be broadcasting helpful info to people every chance we get and interacting with folks at every street corner. Blogs provide this opportunity.

      Thanks a ton for having this blog and epitomizing everything the net stands for. Free discussion of ideas. The Cluetrain Manifesto brought alive.

      – Kevin

      Comment by Kevin O'Keefe — April 13, 2004 @ 1:46 pm

    16. David,

      Thanks for the mentioning of lexBlog’s launching. Fully understand the reservations of you and others that blogs will draw clients.

      Few points. One – a blog is lawyer’s Web site to me –it’s their front door, their suite of clothes. It needs to look professional for clients to jump from reading helpful information on the blog to calling the lawyer. Most lawyer blogs do not even look as good lawyer Web sites – which as a group look pretty bad.

      Second it depends what you blog. Limit blogging to practical info that will make a difference in people’s lives and update the law and news on related topics and you have something as a marketing tool. On the net the rule is “You can everything you want so long as you help enough other people get everything they want.”

      Existing lawyer blogs tend not to be local and niche specific either by title or items posted. As a result they are not coming up on top of search engines. Lawyers get results from search engine traffic, especially in personal plight areas of practice.

      Talked to a lawyer in Florida a week ago that thought blogs were best thing since sliced bread. He is coming up first in search results and obtaining 2 to 3 new clients a week. Remember lawyers like this do not get up on their roof tops and tell the competition what is working.

      Here’s some stats from recent study on large firms getting clients from sites:

      1) 73% of law firms acknowledge having generated new clients whose first awareness of their firm was through its website.

      2) In recent studies, in-house counsel say that they turn to websites twice as often as printed marketing materials when selecting a law firm.

      3) 38% of in-house counsel search the web at least once a week in search of outside counsel. Almost 80% are using search engines.

      4) When selecting outside law firms, general counsel say that a poor website is a reason some law firms aren’t considered at all.

      In 1996 lawyers questioned value of these funny looking Web sites. Most sites up then did not do a lick for a lawyer’s business. A few us invested some money in nice looking Web sites, filled them with a ton of helpful content and were there at people’s beckon call to interact with them and answer the questions they had. We got a lot of new clients as a result.

      Blogs are the same. They are just a data base driven content management tool that runs a Web site. If a lawyer’s blog is not drawing clients, and that was the lawyers goal (and in the case of many fine lawyers, it’s not) it is not the tool being used that’s the problem, it is the manner in which the tool is being used.

      At a time when lawyers have an awful reputation we should be broadcasting helpful info to people every chance we get and interacting with folks at every street corner. Blogs provide this opportunity.

      Thanks a ton for having this blog and epitomizing everything the net stands for. Free discussion of ideas. The Cluetrain Manifesto brought alive.

      – Kevin

      Comment by Kevin O'Keefe — April 13, 2004 @ 1:46 pm

    17. Kevin,  Thank you for cluetraining with us.   I think we both have an open mind on this topic and are coming at it in good faith. 
      Your Comments raise a bunch of issues for me:

      There are some great-looking lawyer weblogs with great Google positioning that report little or no client generating;
      I wonder if corporate counsel are looking at weblogs at all when making decisions; the study you cite is very short on particulars; you can’t both knock static sites and use studies of them to sell the your weblog services, can you? 
      The average-Joe client (consumer or small business man) that I talk about a lot, seems very unlikely to be reading weblogs over time, looking for “practical” information;
      I agree that having a geographic and specialty focus would be important to success; I hope geographically-limited webloggers will chime in on this topic. How does the location limitation work when jostling for Google positioning?
      I’m very much concerned about buying the content, commentary, and compassionate caring upon which one’s “reputation” will be built; the quote from Blood’s book that I inserted in the main post certainly raises this issue.
      I hope we can continue this dialogue, Kevin.  Thanks again for participating.

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 13, 2004 @ 2:11 pm

    18. Kevin,  Thank you for cluetraining with us.   I think we both have an open mind on this topic and are coming at it in good faith. 
      Your Comments raise a bunch of issues for me:

      There are some great-looking lawyer weblogs with great Google positioning that report little or no client generating;
      I wonder if corporate counsel are looking at weblogs at all when making decisions; the study you cite is very short on particulars; you can’t both knock static sites and use studies of them to sell the your weblog services, can you? 
      The average-Joe client (consumer or small business man) that I talk about a lot, seems very unlikely to be reading weblogs over time, looking for “practical” information;
      I agree that having a geographic and specialty focus would be important to success; I hope geographically-limited webloggers will chime in on this topic. How does the location limitation work when jostling for Google positioning?
      I’m very much concerned about buying the content, commentary, and compassionate caring upon which one’s “reputation” will be built; the quote from Blood’s book that I inserted in the main post certainly raises this issue.
      I hope we can continue this dialogue, Kevin.  Thanks again for participating.

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 13, 2004 @ 2:11 pm

    19. Will I be blogging when I’m dead?

      Thanks to your very interesting post,which clued me into the idea that I could hire someone to write my blogs, I guess my answer is “maybe.” But I don’t think I’ll do it.

      Am I troubled that a law firm might publish a blog that isn’t written by one of its lawyers? In my opinion, there should be a clear indication on the blog that someone other than a firm lawyer has provided the content. But I don’t think ghostwriters will “kill the legal weblog community,” which you mention as a possibility. Blogs written by flesh-and-blood authors will always be easily distinguishable from the cookie-cutter, mass-produced products. How? By the thing that all flesh-and-blood authors have to offer: strong opinions, recognizable tastes and interests, a personal point of view, etc. (In any case, publishing a blog is so cheap and easy that once this secret is out, I wonder whether ghostwritten blogs will catch on unless they’re practically free.)

      You ask: “Has Evan had any results from his Illinois Trial Practice Weblog or The Illinois Personal Injury Blog?” [Why you didn’t include Notes from the (Legal) Underground in your question, I don’t know. Maybe you think that blog causes all potential clients to run for the hills.]

      For me, your question simply isn’t relevant. I don’t publish weblogs to generate legal business. If my weblogs never generated a client, I wouldn’t care a bit. I can attest, however, to other benefits of having a weblog, at least for those who don’t hire ghostwriters: (a) weblogs put you in touch very quickly with people who share your interests and opinions (or who don’t share them); (b) weblogs make your opinions noticed by online readers, a circumstance that will continue as long as weblogs are favored in search engine results; and (c) weblogs are a good way for lawyers to improve their writing and editing skills. For lawyers who *do* hire ghostwriters, having a weblog will at least cause their firms’ name to appear higher in the search rankings, which is what most lawyers are looking for anyway.

      Will weblogs attract clients for lawyers? Perhaps, just as publishing Op-Eds, magazine articles, and books can attract clients for lawyers. But the results will vary according to the quality of the content and whether the content is narrowly-tailored to reach the “audience” from which the law firm draws its clients.

      I’m skeptical that ghostwritten weblogs will do the trick, since I imagine they will be dull and uninteresting. But I could be wrong. In the event that a lawyer is publishing from beyond the grave, however, a successful weblog might be considered one that bores its readers to death; in this case, it’s possible that client and lawyer will meet in the afterlife, especially if the client is willing to offer the lawyer a fan.

      Comment by Evan — April 13, 2004 @ 6:42 pm

    20. Will I be blogging when I’m dead?

      Thanks to your very interesting post,which clued me into the idea that I could hire someone to write my blogs, I guess my answer is “maybe.” But I don’t think I’ll do it.

      Am I troubled that a law firm might publish a blog that isn’t written by one of its lawyers? In my opinion, there should be a clear indication on the blog that someone other than a firm lawyer has provided the content. But I don’t think ghostwriters will “kill the legal weblog community,” which you mention as a possibility. Blogs written by flesh-and-blood authors will always be easily distinguishable from the cookie-cutter, mass-produced products. How? By the thing that all flesh-and-blood authors have to offer: strong opinions, recognizable tastes and interests, a personal point of view, etc. (In any case, publishing a blog is so cheap and easy that once this secret is out, I wonder whether ghostwritten blogs will catch on unless they’re practically free.)

      You ask: “Has Evan had any results from his Illinois Trial Practice Weblog or The Illinois Personal Injury Blog?” [Why you didn’t include Notes from the (Legal) Underground in your question, I don’t know. Maybe you think that blog causes all potential clients to run for the hills.]

      For me, your question simply isn’t relevant. I don’t publish weblogs to generate legal business. If my weblogs never generated a client, I wouldn’t care a bit. I can attest, however, to other benefits of having a weblog, at least for those who don’t hire ghostwriters: (a) weblogs put you in touch very quickly with people who share your interests and opinions (or who don’t share them); (b) weblogs make your opinions noticed by online readers, a circumstance that will continue as long as weblogs are favored in search engine results; and (c) weblogs are a good way for lawyers to improve their writing and editing skills. For lawyers who *do* hire ghostwriters, having a weblog will at least cause their firms’ name to appear higher in the search rankings, which is what most lawyers are looking for anyway.

      Will weblogs attract clients for lawyers? Perhaps, just as publishing Op-Eds, magazine articles, and books can attract clients for lawyers. But the results will vary according to the quality of the content and whether the content is narrowly-tailored to reach the “audience” from which the law firm draws its clients.

      I’m skeptical that ghostwritten weblogs will do the trick, since I imagine they will be dull and uninteresting. But I could be wrong. In the event that a lawyer is publishing from beyond the grave, however, a successful weblog might be considered one that bores its readers to death; in this case, it’s possible that client and lawyer will meet in the afterlife, especially if the client is willing to offer the lawyer a fan.

      Comment by Evan — April 13, 2004 @ 6:42 pm

    21. You’re already writing from the Underground, Evan, so Notes from the (legal) Grave won’t be much of a stretch for you. Thank you for taking the time to offer a generous amount of insight, experience and humor to this discussion.
      I didn’t ask specifically about Underground‘s ability to generate clients, because I wanted to honor Kevin’s premise that a fair test of weblog marketing should look at “serious” lawyer weblogs that are focused on a limited legal area of expertise and/or geographic region. 
      Similarly, the question of attracting clients is not the focus of this post because I believe most webloggers keep a weblog primarily for that purpose.  It’s because weblog marketeers, such as lexBlog, sell their service by stressing the marketing and client-generating power of weblogs — and, I have a congenital consumer-protection gene, which calls for skepticism and vigilance, especially when claims appear contrary to facts or experience as I know them.

      Some day, I’ll have to ask if any lawyer or mediator has ever gotten a client from writing op/ed pieces and articles.  I did lots of both kinds of writing, plus garnered much free press for my mediation practice, and not one client ever responded that the writings attracted them to me and my practice.
       

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 13, 2004 @ 7:37 pm

    22. You’re already writing from the Underground, Evan, so Notes from the (legal) Grave won’t be much of a stretch for you. Thank you for taking the time to offer a generous amount of insight, experience and humor to this discussion.
      I didn’t ask specifically about Underground‘s ability to generate clients, because I wanted to honor Kevin’s premise that a fair test of weblog marketing should look at “serious” lawyer weblogs that are focused on a limited legal area of expertise and/or geographic region. 
      Similarly, the question of attracting clients is not the focus of this post because I believe most webloggers keep a weblog primarily for that purpose.  It’s because weblog marketeers, such as lexBlog, sell their service by stressing the marketing and client-generating power of weblogs — and, I have a congenital consumer-protection gene, which calls for skepticism and vigilance, especially when claims appear contrary to facts or experience as I know them.

      Some day, I’ll have to ask if any lawyer or mediator has ever gotten a client from writing op/ed pieces and articles.  I did lots of both kinds of writing, plus garnered much free press for my mediation practice, and not one client ever responded that the writings attracted them to me and my practice.
       

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 13, 2004 @ 7:37 pm

    23. David –

      Your argument that something is amiss appears to hinge on what you have self described ‘ghost blogs.’ The goal here is to put lawyers in touch with people by providing them a platform that is as easy to post to as writing an email. It’s my opinion that this place – blog, Web site – whatever you call it, should have some substantive info of help to people. Assume we offer content that is helpful to thousands of average Americans and lawyers complement that with their own contributions because they now have an easy to use site and better yet the lawyer begins to interact with ordinary people via the comment feature on their blog. What is bad about that? If a lawyer does not supplement the content and people still receive helpful info they are not getting now, is that bad?

      If we have violated the rules of the ‘blog police’ that only content written by the lawyer hosting a site because the site is being operated on blog software as opposed to a very expensive data base driven content management site, that most lawyers could never afford, I plead guilty. But I will be proud of my effort to provide lawyers an easy to use tool that helps people.

      – Kevin

      Comment by Kevin O'Keefe — April 14, 2004 @ 1:20 am

    24. David –

      Your argument that something is amiss appears to hinge on what you have self described ‘ghost blogs.’ The goal here is to put lawyers in touch with people by providing them a platform that is as easy to post to as writing an email. It’s my opinion that this place – blog, Web site – whatever you call it, should have some substantive info of help to people. Assume we offer content that is helpful to thousands of average Americans and lawyers complement that with their own contributions because they now have an easy to use site and better yet the lawyer begins to interact with ordinary people via the comment feature on their blog. What is bad about that? If a lawyer does not supplement the content and people still receive helpful info they are not getting now, is that bad?

      If we have violated the rules of the ‘blog police’ that only content written by the lawyer hosting a site because the site is being operated on blog software as opposed to a very expensive data base driven content management site, that most lawyers could never afford, I plead guilty. But I will be proud of my effort to provide lawyers an easy to use tool that helps people.

      – Kevin

      Comment by Kevin O'Keefe — April 14, 2004 @ 1:20 am

    25. Kevin O’Keefe has replied to my qualms over the “turnkey” weblog services offered by his new company lexBlog Inc.  My concerns, to be more precise, are that services like lexBlog may 

      be overselling the ability of weblogs to generate clients for lawyers; 

      be overstating a weblog’s ability to build the reputation of the editor/owner of the site (when initial and ongoing content will be provided by the service, not the lawyer); and

      create a false perception, among members of the public and the profession, of the expertise of a weblog’s lawyer-editor (who may simply be “publisher” rather than “editor” of the site)  
      “podium flip”  Kevin’s first comment dealt mostly with the issue of attracting clients.  In my response, I stated, inter alia, that I was concerned about a lawyer using services such as lexBlog to buy the content, commentary, and compassionate caring upon which his or her “reputation” will be built.
       
      That prompted Kevin’s second Comment, on the “ghost-writer” issue that I call Absentee Weblogging or “reputation by proxy.”.  Here’s his argument:

      “Assume we offer content that is helpful to thousands of average Americans and lawyers complement that with their own contributions because they now have an easy to use site and better yet the lawyer begins to interact with ordinary people via the comment feature on their blog. What is bad about that? If a lawyer does not supplement the content and people still receive helpful info they are not getting now, is that bad? If we have violated the rules of the ‘blog police’ that only content written by the lawyer hosting a site because the site is being operated on blog software as opposed to a very expensive data base driven content management site, that most lawyers could never afford, I plead guilty. But I will be proud of my effort to provide lawyers an easy to use tool that helps people. – Kevin”

      It’s hard to disagree with Kevin’s info utopia — free, accessible, useful information is good.  However, if a lawyer wants to start a weblog, and plans to personally provide the content, there would be little reason to hire a turnkey service to design and set one up — good-looking, multi-featured weblogs are simply too easy and inexpensive to start.  Of course, I would have no problem with a lawyer choosing to pay for a start-up service, so long as he or she has been given realistic expectations about its marketing potential. 
       
      However, from its description of itself, lexBlog’s focus seems to be providing “content, content, content” for the lawyer who “do[es] not have the time to publish content,” rather than providing services for the hands-on editor.   LexBlog is marketing its premium services as a magic plan “that will utterly solidify your reputation as a trusted expert in your field and locale” — with the new weblogger “launched to the forefront of your area of practice, perceived as a leading authority by the public, colleagues, the media and clients.”

      “!key”  Kevin asks “what is bad about this?”  I say,

      It’s bad for the client or referring lawyer, if they are deceived about the level of expertise (or caring) of the weblog owner.  

      It’s bad for the lawyer paying for the content services, if he or she believes that spoonfed content will create the personal touch that has been the hallmark of successful weblogs. 

      And, it’s bad for the weblog community, if the personal voice and integrity that have nurtured the weblog phenomenon are diluted with ersatz personalities, ersatz caring and ersatz expertise.

      “laptop in bed flip”  LexBlog is selling the “perception” of expertise.  By analogy, it’s reasoning suggests that owning an Olympic Medal is just as significant when it was bought from a pawn shop as when earned in competition.  Kevin quotes Rebecca Blood from The Weblog Handbook, saying that weblogs really do build reputations quickly, but he leaves out the all-important basis given by Blood for that reputation: The individual editor demonstrates (and may actually acquire) his or her expertise and integrity through the process of searching the Web daily for information, news, and articles; then sifting through it, and choosing, summarizing, analyzing the material selected. 

      Evan Schaeffer says in his Comments to the original posting: “Am I troubled that a law firm might publish a blog that isn’t written by one of its lawyers? In my opinion, there should be a clear indication on the blog that someone other than a firm lawyer has provided the content.”
      As ethicalEsq opined in February, “The notion of ghost-written weblogs scares me.  . . . [T]hey signal a new kind of weblogging devoid of the very spark of life that has put magic into this way of communicating and created a community.  Going from weblog as “the unedited voice of an individual” to weblog as the fabricated voice (and image) created for an individual lawyer will turn this fresh community into a stale commodity.  And it won’t work as a marketing tool, because what makes a weblog “good” and attracts repeat visitors is a strong personal voice, content that is interesting and well said, and rapid response time.  [“The Good, The Bad and the Blogly,” by Glenn Harlan Reynolds]   Those are three elements very unlikely to come from Blogs-R-Us.”
      “pointer dude flip”  Kevin and LexBlog stress that the legal profession is one of the least reputed in American society, and says that “blogs can help” improve the lawyer’s public image.  The well-organized, informative weblog that demonstrates the knowledge and humanity of an individual lawyer or firm may indeed increase public trust.  But, I fail to see how letting lawyers purchase a “reputation as a trusted expert” will do so. 

      lexBlog wants to piggy-back on the goodwill generated by the weblog phenomenon, without assuring its main ingredient — the personally-involved editor.  It reminds me of the time my Mother told me she never puts saffron in her paella.  “You ought to call it something else,” was my reply.  Maybe “lexSite” would be more palatable. 

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 14, 2004 @ 5:59 am

    26. Kevin O’Keefe has replied to my qualms over the “turnkey” weblog services offered by his new company lexBlog Inc.  My concerns, to be more precise, are that services like lexBlog may 

      be overselling the ability of weblogs to generate clients for lawyers; 

      be overstating a weblog’s ability to build the reputation of the editor/owner of the site (when initial and ongoing content will be provided by the service, not the lawyer); and

      create a false perception, among members of the public and the profession, of the expertise of a weblog’s lawyer-editor (who may simply be “publisher” rather than “editor” of the site)  
      “podium flip”  Kevin’s first comment dealt mostly with the issue of attracting clients.  In my response, I stated, inter alia, that I was concerned about a lawyer using services such as lexBlog to buy the content, commentary, and compassionate caring upon which his or her “reputation” will be built.
       
      That prompted Kevin’s second Comment, on the “ghost-writer” issue that I call Absentee Weblogging or “reputation by proxy.”.  Here’s his argument:

      “Assume we offer content that is helpful to thousands of average Americans and lawyers complement that with their own contributions because they now have an easy to use site and better yet the lawyer begins to interact with ordinary people via the comment feature on their blog. What is bad about that? If a lawyer does not supplement the content and people still receive helpful info they are not getting now, is that bad? If we have violated the rules of the ‘blog police’ that only content written by the lawyer hosting a site because the site is being operated on blog software as opposed to a very expensive data base driven content management site, that most lawyers could never afford, I plead guilty. But I will be proud of my effort to provide lawyers an easy to use tool that helps people. – Kevin”

      It’s hard to disagree with Kevin’s info utopia — free, accessible, useful information is good.  However, if a lawyer wants to start a weblog, and plans to personally provide the content, there would be little reason to hire a turnkey service to design and set one up — good-looking, multi-featured weblogs are simply too easy and inexpensive to start.  Of course, I would have no problem with a lawyer choosing to pay for a start-up service, so long as he or she has been given realistic expectations about its marketing potential. 
       
      However, from its description of itself, lexBlog’s focus seems to be providing “content, content, content” for the lawyer who “do[es] not have the time to publish content,” rather than providing services for the hands-on editor.   LexBlog is marketing its premium services as a magic plan “that will utterly solidify your reputation as a trusted expert in your field and locale” — with the new weblogger “launched to the forefront of your area of practice, perceived as a leading authority by the public, colleagues, the media and clients.”

      “!key”  Kevin asks “what is bad about this?”  I say,

      It’s bad for the client or referring lawyer, if they are deceived about the level of expertise (or caring) of the weblog owner.  

      It’s bad for the lawyer paying for the content services, if he or she believes that spoonfed content will create the personal touch that has been the hallmark of successful weblogs. 

      And, it’s bad for the weblog community, if the personal voice and integrity that have nurtured the weblog phenomenon are diluted with ersatz personalities, ersatz caring and ersatz expertise.

      “laptop in bed flip”  LexBlog is selling the “perception” of expertise.  By analogy, it’s reasoning suggests that owning an Olympic Medal is just as significant when it was bought from a pawn shop as when earned in competition.  Kevin quotes Rebecca Blood from The Weblog Handbook, saying that weblogs really do build reputations quickly, but he leaves out the all-important basis given by Blood for that reputation: The individual editor demonstrates (and may actually acquire) his or her expertise and integrity through the process of searching the Web daily for information, news, and articles; then sifting through it, and choosing, summarizing, analyzing the material selected. 

      Evan Schaeffer says in his Comments to the original posting: “Am I troubled that a law firm might publish a blog that isn’t written by one of its lawyers? In my opinion, there should be a clear indication on the blog that someone other than a firm lawyer has provided the content.”
      As ethicalEsq opined in February, “The notion of ghost-written weblogs scares me.  . . . [T]hey signal a new kind of weblogging devoid of the very spark of life that has put magic into this way of communicating and created a community.  Going from weblog as “the unedited voice of an individual” to weblog as the fabricated voice (and image) created for an individual lawyer will turn this fresh community into a stale commodity.  And it won’t work as a marketing tool, because what makes a weblog “good” and attracts repeat visitors is a strong personal voice, content that is interesting and well said, and rapid response time.  [“The Good, The Bad and the Blogly,” by Glenn Harlan Reynolds]   Those are three elements very unlikely to come from Blogs-R-Us.”
      “pointer dude flip”  Kevin and LexBlog stress that the legal profession is one of the least reputed in American society, and says that “blogs can help” improve the lawyer’s public image.  The well-organized, informative weblog that demonstrates the knowledge and humanity of an individual lawyer or firm may indeed increase public trust.  But, I fail to see how letting lawyers purchase a “reputation as a trusted expert” will do so. 

      lexBlog wants to piggy-back on the goodwill generated by the weblog phenomenon, without assuring its main ingredient — the personally-involved editor.  It reminds me of the time my Mother told me she never puts saffron in her paella.  “You ought to call it something else,” was my reply.  Maybe “lexSite” would be more palatable. 

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 14, 2004 @ 5:59 am

    27. I have two sites in blog format
      http://www.askthelawguy.info
      and http://www.askthelawguy.info/dissent

      The first is like an advice column for legal problems. Readers e-mail questions and I answer the most interesting questions with a post. I consider it part public service but I wouldn’t mind if it brought in a few clients. I think it could become a tool to publicize my practice, but it is in its infancy.
      The other blog webpage  www.askthelawguy.info) is a traditional blog, called “I Respectfully Dissent”. I look at it as an outlet for me. Instead of submitting a letter to the editor, or op-ed piece I get the instant gratification of instant publishing and the satisfaction of 25-30 readers per day. I think it is unlikely that it will generate clients.
      I also have a “billboard” site http://www.attorneygates.com that has information about the practice for clients and potential clients. I get 2-3 referrals per month from this site. The content is largely static, until I decide to add something on.
      I would not use a ghost-written blog. For a marketing idea to be useful to me, it must put “asses in the seats.” Paying clients in my office, not just numbers of visitors or hit counts.
      I think the traditional weblog could help a lawyer be looked upon as an authoritative voice in a subject area. I have had one or two calls from newspaper reporters (who surf the web when working on a story) about something on my blog.

      Comment by Bryan Gates — April 14, 2004 @ 11:31 am

    28. I have two sites in blog format
      http://www.askthelawguy.info
      and http://www.askthelawguy.info/dissent

      The first is like an advice column for legal problems. Readers e-mail questions and I answer the most interesting questions with a post. I consider it part public service but I wouldn’t mind if it brought in a few clients. I think it could become a tool to publicize my practice, but it is in its infancy.
      The other blog webpage  www.askthelawguy.info) is a traditional blog, called “I Respectfully Dissent”. I look at it as an outlet for me. Instead of submitting a letter to the editor, or op-ed piece I get the instant gratification of instant publishing and the satisfaction of 25-30 readers per day. I think it is unlikely that it will generate clients.
      I also have a “billboard” site http://www.attorneygates.com that has information about the practice for clients and potential clients. I get 2-3 referrals per month from this site. The content is largely static, until I decide to add something on.
      I would not use a ghost-written blog. For a marketing idea to be useful to me, it must put “asses in the seats.” Paying clients in my office, not just numbers of visitors or hit counts.
      I think the traditional weblog could help a lawyer be looked upon as an authoritative voice in a subject area. I have had one or two calls from newspaper reporters (who surf the web when working on a story) about something on my blog.

      Comment by Bryan Gates — April 14, 2004 @ 11:31 am

    29. A couple of thoughts:

      My blog has helped me “get” clients, but maybe not in the way you mean, i.e., someone phoning me up, saying, hey I read your blog, I want you to be my lawyer. (Actually that scenario has happened, but not everyone with a legal problem needs to hire me and my firm, so I’ve made several referrals.) It has helped me get clients in the way it keeps me up to speed on the issues and developments that affect their businesses and legal needs. It has helped me, through the connections it facilitates, with introductions and goodwill as to potential clients. And it has helped me interact with existing clients, some of whom check in and see what I have to say even though it probably has little to do with their representation.

      That last point is an important one: the affinity involved in a client relationship. I want clients to understand (and hopefully like and respect) who their lawyer is. And I want to know, like, and respect them too. Since I enjoy the people I’ve met in this arena, it goes without saying I think I’d enjoy working with them too. When the phone does ring (or, more likely, the email comes in) and it’s someone from the weblog world with a legal problem in my area of expertise who needs big firm representation, I think it will be a good fit.

      As for your qualms about using someone else’s content in a lawyer’s or law firm’s blog, I share them. In droves. Ick. To the extent he’s helping lawyers get their “blogging feet” under them, that’s great. But I think you’re right, he may be offering to help too much. At the very least, there should be some disclosure on the site about what is generated by the lawyer/firm, and what is bought. (I’ve seen law sites do this with news tickers.)

      Comment by Denise Howell — April 15, 2004 @ 4:23 pm

    30. A couple of thoughts:

      My blog has helped me “get” clients, but maybe not in the way you mean, i.e., someone phoning me up, saying, hey I read your blog, I want you to be my lawyer. (Actually that scenario has happened, but not everyone with a legal problem needs to hire me and my firm, so I’ve made several referrals.) It has helped me get clients in the way it keeps me up to speed on the issues and developments that affect their businesses and legal needs. It has helped me, through the connections it facilitates, with introductions and goodwill as to potential clients. And it has helped me interact with existing clients, some of whom check in and see what I have to say even though it probably has little to do with their representation.

      That last point is an important one: the affinity involved in a client relationship. I want clients to understand (and hopefully like and respect) who their lawyer is. And I want to know, like, and respect them too. Since I enjoy the people I’ve met in this arena, it goes without saying I think I’d enjoy working with them too. When the phone does ring (or, more likely, the email comes in) and it’s someone from the weblog world with a legal problem in my area of expertise who needs big firm representation, I think it will be a good fit.

      As for your qualms about using someone else’s content in a lawyer’s or law firm’s blog, I share them. In droves. Ick. To the extent he’s helping lawyers get their “blogging feet” under them, that’s great. But I think you’re right, he may be offering to help too much. At the very least, there should be some disclosure on the site about what is generated by the lawyer/firm, and what is bought. (I’ve seen law sites do this with news tickers.)

      Comment by Denise Howell — April 15, 2004 @ 4:23 pm

    31. Thank you very much for your insights, Denise.  Coming from you, they are especially valuable.
      Did you type this Comment with one hand and a baby on your hip?  I have no doubt that your Carryon Baggage helps attract lots of prospective clients.

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 15, 2004 @ 5:08 pm

    32. Thank you very much for your insights, Denise.  Coming from you, they are especially valuable.
      Did you type this Comment with one hand and a baby on your hip?  I have no doubt that your Carryon Baggage helps attract lots of prospective clients.

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 15, 2004 @ 5:08 pm

    33. Actually two hands for a change, during naptime. (You’re reminding me I have a small backlog of phone pics to post.) Hope you can make it to Bloggercon this time, you’re a good voice/thinker for them to have on hand.

      Comment by Denise Howell — April 15, 2004 @ 9:15 pm

    34. Actually two hands for a change, during naptime. (You’re reminding me I have a small backlog of phone pics to post.) Hope you can make it to Bloggercon this time, you’re a good voice/thinker for them to have on hand.

      Comment by Denise Howell — April 15, 2004 @ 9:15 pm

    35. First, my disclaimer: IANALBIMTOAIDHWW
      (I Am Not A Lawyer, But I’m Married To One And I Do Her Web Work.)

      I am actually in the process of creating a blog for her, specifically to develop business for her solo practice. Why? Two specific reasons:

      1. She already has an informative website, which *has* generated paying clients. Blogging seems like an easy way for her to keep updated and current information of interest to potential clients on the site, without using me as a go-between like we do now.

      2. She is listed on both Findlaw.com and Lawyers.com and does get business from both. One of them, I don’t recall which, offers a “newsletter” service, that lets you put your firm name/branding on a generic collection of articles and send it out to clients. This seems, to us, disingenuous to say the least. We figured that she should instead offer original content (or links to resources) in the form of a blog.

      It seems to me that the idea of “ghost written” blog content is very similar to the service we rejected. I don’t think it’s necessarily unethical or inappropriate. As Ken (I think) mentioned, there is a service in getting good information out to people. This is especially true with the law, which frightens a lot of laypersons.

      What struck my wife and I as wrong is passing that work of as your own. She simply wanted to have a more real and genuine relationship with her clients and potential clients. We felt that paying for “canned” content wasn’t the way to establish a trusting professional relationship.

      Personally, I think client relationships seem to be one of the most neglected areas among her colleagues/peers. In the past year, my wife has had clients buy her cookies, candy and send flowers (along with prompt payment :) all for being so conscientious and communicative. As one of her peers remarked, “Hell, I can’t get half my clients to pay on time, let alone send me flowers!” I wonder why?

      Since I don’t practice law, I could be speaking from my bum… and certainly there are variations in different practice areas. But as we crank out more and more lawyers, and the legal profession becomes even *more* cutthroat, I think those practitioners who have a good handle on *real* customer service will end up eating the lunch of those who just “buy content” to jump on the bandwagon. We’re banking on it…

      -Dave!

      Comment by Dave! — April 16, 2004 @ 2:14 pm

    36. First, my disclaimer: IANALBIMTOAIDHWW
      (I Am Not A Lawyer, But I’m Married To One And I Do Her Web Work.)

      I am actually in the process of creating a blog for her, specifically to develop business for her solo practice. Why? Two specific reasons:

      1. She already has an informative website, which *has* generated paying clients. Blogging seems like an easy way for her to keep updated and current information of interest to potential clients on the site, without using me as a go-between like we do now.

      2. She is listed on both Findlaw.com and Lawyers.com and does get business from both. One of them, I don’t recall which, offers a “newsletter” service, that lets you put your firm name/branding on a generic collection of articles and send it out to clients. This seems, to us, disingenuous to say the least. We figured that she should instead offer original content (or links to resources) in the form of a blog.

      It seems to me that the idea of “ghost written” blog content is very similar to the service we rejected. I don’t think it’s necessarily unethical or inappropriate. As Ken (I think) mentioned, there is a service in getting good information out to people. This is especially true with the law, which frightens a lot of laypersons.

      What struck my wife and I as wrong is passing that work of as your own. She simply wanted to have a more real and genuine relationship with her clients and potential clients. We felt that paying for “canned” content wasn’t the way to establish a trusting professional relationship.

      Personally, I think client relationships seem to be one of the most neglected areas among her colleagues/peers. In the past year, my wife has had clients buy her cookies, candy and send flowers (along with prompt payment :) all for being so conscientious and communicative. As one of her peers remarked, “Hell, I can’t get half my clients to pay on time, let alone send me flowers!” I wonder why?

      Since I don’t practice law, I could be speaking from my bum… and certainly there are variations in different practice areas. But as we crank out more and more lawyers, and the legal profession becomes even *more* cutthroat, I think those practitioners who have a good handle on *real* customer service will end up eating the lunch of those who just “buy content” to jump on the bandwagon. We’re banking on it…

      -Dave!

      Comment by Dave! — April 16, 2004 @ 2:14 pm

    37. Thank you for giving us a unique perspective, and taking the time to put it together.
       
      Being in a very diplomatic mood, I shall make no comment on your disclaimer acronym, except that I hope you don’t have to use it often.  For more general purposes, you might want to think about TMIOHW (Trust Me, I’m Only Her WebMaster).  (Sorry, I spent too many years policing against acronym abuse while in government.)

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 16, 2004 @ 2:59 pm

    38. Thank you for giving us a unique perspective, and taking the time to put it together.
       
      Being in a very diplomatic mood, I shall make no comment on your disclaimer acronym, except that I hope you don’t have to use it often.  For more general purposes, you might want to think about TMIOHW (Trust Me, I’m Only Her WebMaster).  (Sorry, I spent too many years policing against acronym abuse while in government.)

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 16, 2004 @ 2:59 pm

    39. Very interesting discussion. On the one hand, one might consider it to verge on the unethical for a lawyer to purchase content from an unknown ghost-writer and present it as her own, but surely there are ways and means to avoid that – surely it all depends on how the information is presented. Further, perhaps the point should be made that partners are known to publish associates’ articles as their own. In some countries moral rights in copyright law go some way to minimise that and partners I’ve worked for always acknowledge co-authorship, but it still happens elsewhere. Again, whether it’s “right” or “wrong” probably depends on presentation. We all know, for example, that a footnote in an article thanking Jane Blogs for assisting with an article probably means she at least substantially wrote the piece. I personally would not purchase content as doing so would erode the personalised nature of “my” blog, but I doubt there any absolutes here. As regards the question of how successful law blogs might be in attracting business, two additional points would seem to be these: first, blogs in the legal community are still in their infancy, so a lack of plentiful empirical data is not surprising; secondly, I wouldn’t treat a blog as the b-all and end-all of legal marketing (and I’m not suggesting that anyone above does) but as a potentially very useful supplement to other avenues of marketing. Remember also that the partners and corporate counsel of the future, unlike many of those living today, will have grown up in the technological age; blogs and all other sorts of technology will be second nature to them. I remember having to research legal issues without computers; today I’d be lost without them. I’ve found legal blogs which are very helpful, such as one on the UK’s Freedom of Information Act. There’s every reason to think budget-strapped in-house counsel do or will do likewise, provided the blog in question is good quality, focussed and topical – characteristics that our target audience are well qualified to guage.

      Comment by rnzde — April 19, 2004 @ 5:23 pm

    40. Very interesting discussion. On the one hand, one might consider it to verge on the unethical for a lawyer to purchase content from an unknown ghost-writer and present it as her own, but surely there are ways and means to avoid that – surely it all depends on how the information is presented. Further, perhaps the point should be made that partners are known to publish associates’ articles as their own. In some countries moral rights in copyright law go some way to minimise that and partners I’ve worked for always acknowledge co-authorship, but it still happens elsewhere. Again, whether it’s “right” or “wrong” probably depends on presentation. We all know, for example, that a footnote in an article thanking Jane Blogs for assisting with an article probably means she at least substantially wrote the piece. I personally would not purchase content as doing so would erode the personalised nature of “my” blog, but I doubt there any absolutes here. As regards the question of how successful law blogs might be in attracting business, two additional points would seem to be these: first, blogs in the legal community are still in their infancy, so a lack of plentiful empirical data is not surprising; secondly, I wouldn’t treat a blog as the b-all and end-all of legal marketing (and I’m not suggesting that anyone above does) but as a potentially very useful supplement to other avenues of marketing. Remember also that the partners and corporate counsel of the future, unlike many of those living today, will have grown up in the technological age; blogs and all other sorts of technology will be second nature to them. I remember having to research legal issues without computers; today I’d be lost without them. I’ve found legal blogs which are very helpful, such as one on the UK’s Freedom of Information Act. There’s every reason to think budget-strapped in-house counsel do or will do likewise, provided the blog in question is good quality, focussed and topical – characteristics that our target audience are well qualified to guage.

      Comment by rnzde — April 19, 2004 @ 5:23 pm

    41. This morning’s New York Times, in an article about making money by blogging Technology > Many Started Web Logs for Fun, but Bloggers Need Money, Too” href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/19/technology/19blog.html”>reports a California lawyer has generated incredible new business by publishing a blog for the last eight months.

      J. Craig Williams, a lawyer in Newport Beach, Calif., began his Web log, MayItPleaseTheCourt.net, in August. He said his postings, which focus on his particular area of law, have brought him hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of legal business.

      That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars – six figures – in new business in less than a year folks. This type of evidence should begin to silence those who say lawyer blogs do not work as a means to market the lawyers services.

      I agree with the New York Times report from BloggerCon II, a blogging conference held at Harvard over the weekend, that most people who publish blogs do not do so for money. But last I heard, practicing law was a business. As with any business, marketing is important. If there is a more cost effective means of lawyer marketing than running a blog site on the Internet, I have not seen it.

      Comment by Kevin O'Keefe — April 19, 2004 @ 5:32 pm

    42. This morning’s New York Times, in an article about making money by blogging Technology > Many Started Web Logs for Fun, but Bloggers Need Money, Too” href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/19/technology/19blog.html”>reports a California lawyer has generated incredible new business by publishing a blog for the last eight months.

      J. Craig Williams, a lawyer in Newport Beach, Calif., began his Web log, MayItPleaseTheCourt.net, in August. He said his postings, which focus on his particular area of law, have brought him hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of legal business.

      That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars – six figures – in new business in less than a year folks. This type of evidence should begin to silence those who say lawyer blogs do not work as a means to market the lawyers services.

      I agree with the New York Times report from BloggerCon II, a blogging conference held at Harvard over the weekend, that most people who publish blogs do not do so for money. But last I heard, practicing law was a business. As with any business, marketing is important. If there is a more cost effective means of lawyer marketing than running a blog site on the Internet, I have not seen it.

      Comment by Kevin O'Keefe — April 19, 2004 @ 5:32 pm

    43. Thanks for sending me the article link and continuing this conversation, Kevin.  I thought this comment and the article deserved a post in response.

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 19, 2004 @ 8:57 pm

    44. Thanks for sending me the article link and continuing this conversation, Kevin.  I thought this comment and the article deserved a post in response.

      Comment by David Giacalone — April 19, 2004 @ 8:57 pm

    45. I started blogging about four months ago (first post: February 26). Thus far, I have acquired three clients who found me via my blog (I do estate planning, probate and residential real estate work). Some thoughts about related matters:

      1. I’ve had a lot of interest in my blog, both in terms of potential clients and in terms of the media, but it hasn’t translated into a ton of clients — yet. I’m going to evaluate after 6 months and after a year to see if it’s something I should continue to do.

      2. I could make up reasons for why I do it, but mostly I blog as a marketing tool. And I view blogs as a marketing tool not because the experts say I should, but because it makes sense to me as a way of distinguishing myself — as a skilled lawyer and as a human being — to potential clients. But I think it’s obvious that we currently have no idea whether blogs are the most effective or efficient means of legal marketing. All we have are anecdotes, and the idea — usually promoted by people trying to sell blog-related goods and services — that this is “the next big thing.”

      3. I spend at least 30 minutes a day on my blog, probably more, and I blog 7 days a week.

      4. I don’t pretend to know how much time should be spent blogging, but I don’t know how Kevin can reconcile saying that lawyers have a “moral obligation” to blog with saying it’s OK for lawyers to hire people to blog for them (or it’s OK to spend almost no time blogging each day, since all you have to do is throw up links to other sites). I realize that the guy is an advocate, and is trying to drum up as much business as he can, but at some point he starts to sound like somebody who’s selling Amway.

      5. Of course, you could say that I’m too self-interested to discuss the ghost-writing of blogs. What I have right now is (a) time to write, since my practice is fairly new, and (b) a sense — whether inflated or not — that I’m a pretty good writer and a pretty good attorney, and that these skills will translate into business for me in the future.

      Comment by Joel S. — June 19, 2005 @ 5:07 pm

    46. I started blogging about four months ago (first post: February 26). Thus far, I have acquired three clients who found me via my blog (I do estate planning, probate and residential real estate work). Some thoughts about related matters:

      1. I’ve had a lot of interest in my blog, both in terms of potential clients and in terms of the media, but it hasn’t translated into a ton of clients — yet. I’m going to evaluate after 6 months and after a year to see if it’s something I should continue to do.

      2. I could make up reasons for why I do it, but mostly I blog as a marketing tool. And I view blogs as a marketing tool not because the experts say I should, but because it makes sense to me as a way of distinguishing myself — as a skilled lawyer and as a human being — to potential clients. But I think it’s obvious that we currently have no idea whether blogs are the most effective or efficient means of legal marketing. All we have are anecdotes, and the idea — usually promoted by people trying to sell blog-related goods and services — that this is “the next big thing.”

      3. I spend at least 30 minutes a day on my blog, probably more, and I blog 7 days a week.

      4. I don’t pretend to know how much time should be spent blogging, but I don’t know how Kevin can reconcile saying that lawyers have a “moral obligation” to blog with saying it’s OK for lawyers to hire people to blog for them (or it’s OK to spend almost no time blogging each day, since all you have to do is throw up links to other sites). I realize that the guy is an advocate, and is trying to drum up as much business as he can, but at some point he starts to sound like somebody who’s selling Amway.

      5. Of course, you could say that I’m too self-interested to discuss the ghost-writing of blogs. What I have right now is (a) time to write, since my practice is fairly new, and (b) a sense — whether inflated or not — that I’m a pretty good writer and a pretty good attorney, and that these skills will translate into business for me in the future.

      Comment by Joel S. — June 19, 2005 @ 5:07 pm

    47. Joel,  Thank you for taking the time to give your thoughts on weblogging and marketing.  I think we are in agreement on many of these issues.  It will be interesting to see how your experience changes as your weblog ages.  I bet you’ll want to keep posting.  What is your URL?  I’d like to see your weblog.
      best wishes,  David

      Comment by David Giacalone — June 19, 2005 @ 8:47 pm

    48. Joel,  Thank you for taking the time to give your thoughts on weblogging and marketing.  I think we are in agreement on many of these issues.  It will be interesting to see how your experience changes as your weblog ages.  I bet you’ll want to keep posting.  What is your URL?  I’d like to see your weblog.
      best wishes,  David

      Comment by David Giacalone — June 19, 2005 @ 8:47 pm

    49. David-

      It’s http://www.deathandtaxesblog.com or jas-law.typepad.com — either will work.

      -Joel

      Comment by Joel S. — June 20, 2005 @ 8:08 am

    50. David-

      It’s http://www.deathandtaxesblog.com or jas-law.typepad.com — either will work.

      -Joel

      Comment by Joel S. — June 20, 2005 @ 8:08 am

    RSS feed for comments on this post.

    Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

    Powered by WordPress