A lot of webfolk have pointed to Carolyn Elefant’s excellent Legal Times article “It’s a Blog World After All: If you’re seeking greater visibility, a Web log may be for you” (02-19-04). I want to point out her frank assessment of weblogging as a marketing tool for lawyers:
While I’d like to say that starting a blog will magically bring hordes of clients to one’s doorstep overnight, I’d be grossly exaggerating. Moreover, I’d be guilty of purveying the same kind of myth sold to solos (and many other lawyers) back in the late 1990s to connive them into registering for pricey, but ultimately useless, Internet referral services or into investing in expensive flashy Web sites with little substance that prospective clients could not find anyway amidst the heaps of information online.
At the same time, blogs — unlike conventional Web sites — have much to offer solos seeking to build and market their practice. Blogs can serve as a “quick and dirty” Web site, help solos keep abreast of new developments, gain visibility on the Internet and notoriety in their respective fields, and make new contacts — all of which can help generate referrals from other attorneys and attract new clients. . . . [T]hough blogs probably will not start the phone ringing in the way that advertising on TV or in the Yellow Pages might (at least depending on practice area), the initial time and cost investments are so minimal, that there’s really no risk in giving blogging a try.
In getting to know Carolyn since I started this weblog, one thing is clear: she is a born optimist — especially when dealing with people or causes that mean the most to her. That’s why Carolyn’s refusual to be a blind mouthpiece for the growing “buzz” on weblogs as client magnets is especially important.
Most “buzz” starts with, and is amplified by, people with a financial or emotional stake in the “next new thing.” 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, for your cautious approach.