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

April 19, 2004

Kevin Found a Marketing Success Story

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:49 pm

With entrepeneurial enthusiasm and hyperbole, Kevin O’Keefe just left a Comment about the potential of lawyer weblogs to generate clients (and posted about it at his site), quoting this paragraph from today’s New York Times:


“J. Craig Williams, a lawyer in Newport Beach, Calif., began his Web log, May It Please The Court.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.”  (NYT, Many Started Web Logs for Fun, but Bloggers Need Money, Too, by Julie Flaherty, 04-19-04)

strike it rich neg  Kevin writes (his emphasis): “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.”


Of course, we here at ethicalEsq are interested in finding out what’s really happening, and preventing deceptive practices, not in defending our initial skepticism.  As we pointed out last week, we have never said that a lawyer weblog could never work as a marketing tool.  We did say there seemed to be no useful evidence “supporting the theory that any significant number of consumers or businesses seeking legal services have found a provider through a law firm weblog.” 



check red  We asked last week whether Kevin had any such evidence, but so far the NYT article, giving the May It Please the Court experience, is the only example Kevin has proffered.  Now, I only took a one-credit statistics course in law school, but I’m fairly certain one is not a significant number, especially to back up claims that weblogs are “More effective than advertising,” and can “easily” be used to “cultivate new business,” and that Kevin knows they “work to bring in new clients.”


The NYT article about BloggerCon II noted:



  • “The blog watchers agreed that the vast majority of the estimated 2.1 million Web logs out there today would never even attempt to make money. But even now there are exceptions, like AndrewSullivan.comDailyKos.com and PaidContent.org, and bloggers speak of them with reverence because of their profitability.”
  • “Mr. [Jeff] Jarvis, who led a discussion on blogging as a business, has been watching all the ways that bloggers have managed to bring in a buck. Some bloggers have made money by selling books, T-shirts or CD’s on their sites. Some have tried selling access to individual articles or content through micropayments (99 cents for a poem, for example). A very few, like Andrew Sullivan, have made tens of thousands of dollars simply by asking for donations from loyal readers .”
  • $key neg “But the most talked about route to profit was selling advertisements that pay by the month or by the number of blog visits.”
  • “Before advertisers will flock to blogs, Mr. Jarvis said, bloggers will need to develop data on who is visiting their site, and how often.”
  • “Many participants said that their Web logs had made them money indirectly, through promoting their businesses. Some credit blogs with helping to increase their consulting work. Some say blogs have helped lead to book deals, freelance writing jobs or lecture tours.”

suave dude neg flip  J. Craig Williams, the lawyer behind May It Please the Court, is an accomplished attorney, lecturer and writer.  His weblog is stamped with his humor and personality, factors that seem hard to capture with any packaged weblog or weblog content.  Unlike the paradigm suggested by lexBlog, May It Please the Court does not contain lots of useful information for the public — it is an idiosyncratic collection of links to items that interest Lawyer Williams, with brief commentary. 



While Williams told the Times that the weblog is “focused” on his practice areas, it’s a broad focus, as the 4-lawyer firm [which will soon need a fifth] lists its practice areas as: Environmental Practice, International Trade & Tax, Environmental Due Diligence Employment Law, Corporate & Business Advice, Appellate Law, Real Estate & Natural Resources Practice, Entertainment Law, General Negligence, Premises & Product Liability Insurance Law     


I’ve just written to Craig, asking him to share his insights with us.  [And, he did!].  Information makes for wise choices. 

2 Comments

  1. David,
    You’re right. I spend about an hour or more a day (in my business that’s over $10K a month in lost time), and my blog is stamped with my personality and quirkiness. I think that would be hard to achieve in a packaged blog – at least I hope so if other lawyers ar going to be competing with my blog.

    We also host another blog – posted to monthly – http://www.acriminalwasteofspace.net. That’s written by a local appellate court justice.

    The http://www.mayitpleasethecourt.net has driven both small and large clients to our firm. We get emails and calls about the items that are posted on it – most of which relate in one way or another to our practice. Of course there are the occasional posts that are about topics I can’t resist, and that’s where you begin to see the full range of my personality.

    Sure, Kevin’s got a great product, and I expect that it will sell, and hopefully he’ll make money. But, the lawyers’ personality won’t show through. Let me put in a self-serving quote from Amy Langfield’s New York Notebook on Business Blogging Models:

    “This, I think, is a case where businesses who know nothing about blogs should pay attention. What his law blog is doing – I suspect – is showing a potential client exactly where he is coming from. You get a mix of his personality and his expertise before you even pick up the phone to talk to him. Possibly most importantly, he starts to develop trust. Brilliant.”

    OK, very self serving. But, the point she’s making is where I’m driving. Most people hire lawyers based on recommendations from others. A blog allows my potential clients to get to know me first, and develop their own relationship.

    That’s what drives marketing. It’s how others view you.

    Comment by J. Craig Williams — April 19, 2004 @ 10:10 pm

  2. David,
    You’re right. I spend about an hour or more a day (in my business that’s over $10K a month in lost time), and my blog is stamped with my personality and quirkiness. I think that would be hard to achieve in a packaged blog – at least I hope so if other lawyers ar going to be competing with my blog.

    We also host another blog – posted to monthly – http://www.acriminalwasteofspace.net. That’s written by a local appellate court justice.

    The http://www.mayitpleasethecourt.net has driven both small and large clients to our firm. We get emails and calls about the items that are posted on it – most of which relate in one way or another to our practice. Of course there are the occasional posts that are about topics I can’t resist, and that’s where you begin to see the full range of my personality.

    Sure, Kevin’s got a great product, and I expect that it will sell, and hopefully he’ll make money. But, the lawyers’ personality won’t show through. Let me put in a self-serving quote from Amy Langfield’s New York Notebook on Business Blogging Models:

    “This, I think, is a case where businesses who know nothing about blogs should pay attention. What his law blog is doing – I suspect – is showing a potential client exactly where he is coming from. You get a mix of his personality and his expertise before you even pick up the phone to talk to him. Possibly most importantly, he starts to develop trust. Brilliant.”

    OK, very self serving. But, the point she’s making is where I’m driving. Most people hire lawyers based on recommendations from others. A blog allows my potential clients to get to know me first, and develop their own relationship.

    That’s what drives marketing. It’s how others view you.

    Comment by J. Craig Williams — April 19, 2004 @ 10:10 pm

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