To date, Cyndee Todgham Cherniak has run four legal blogs. And she’s done them all because she can.
Her first, the Trade Lawyers Blog, was started in 2007, when she and a friend though at the time that there wasn’t enough free information being offered about trade lawyers—where to find them, answers to everyday subjects, and so on. That philosophy of paying it forward has always been a part of her law practice.
“We wanted to have that free information out there. We have a desire to have the legal profession give back,” said Todgham Cherniak, the founding lawyer of LexSage. “If you go back in time, lawyers had a social responsibility within the community, a sacred commerce; you’re there to help people. And it felt as though there was more we could do, and blogging allowed us to have that forum.”
The blog was a collaborative experience: Todgham Cherniak welcomed trade lawyers from around the world to submit pieces and write regularly. Over those years she said it worked really well for them. By 2011 the blog had reached its end. But by that time Todgham Cherniak had already launched The HST Blog, and would start the Canada-US Blog and the Happy Lawyers Blog that same year.
According to her it never felt like she was launching three blogs stacked on top of each other. She shared the Canada-US Blog with Susan Kohn Ross, and while she was teaching at the University of Windsor, Todgham Cherniak opened up the blog to students in her class to blog on.
“I personally have found that with blogging and Twitter I write better, and convey my ideas more succinctly as a result of the blogging activities I do. And in turn that makes me a better lawyer; I’m able to shorten ideas and write them better,” she said. “So I used it as a tool in my trade related course, [encouraging] students to be embracing social media.”
Like anyone blogging, Todgham Cherniak’s consortium of blogs created an opportunity for potential clients to find her. And they do. But her ultimate goal has always been to help the community.
“Both Susan and myself are grateful for the opportunities we have as lawyers, and we have to pay it forward, put some information out there for people to find,” said Todgham Cherniak. “The fact that people find us and give us work is icing on the cake, as opposed to the cake.”
Which is why she’s spread the wealth beyond just writing to potential clients. Happy Lawyers Blog aims to help people in law shake off the negativities of practicing. Todgham Cherniak found there was a dearth of materials out there for people—particularly the younger generation of practicing lawyers—to cope with the hardships of the legal profession. She happily reports that people have come up to her at conferences and said a piece she wrote two years ago about not lending space to negative people helped them put negative feelings to rest.
Todgham Cherniak’s glad that people don’t just view it as some “new age-y” blog; she believes that how lawyers can be happy in practicing law and negative environments is a crucial dialogue. Hearing that people are glad this resource is out there is rewarding—but it’s also just part of what she does.
“Anything is a worthwhile expedition that presents an opportunity for somebody else. My motto is better to give than receive…and I enjoy the inclusiveness,” said Todgham Cherniak. “I think that each lawyer has to make their own decisions as to how they are going to give back. Many lawyers engage in high end pro bono work, others are active in volunteerism and [bar associations]. Each person has to make their own choices, but we’re so blessed to be able to practice law, we have to find a way to give back.”