There are times when I feel like a legal expert. I shouldn’t, because I’m not, or anywhere close—but there are times when that feeling bubbles up just a bit after reviewing close to 200 legal blog posts every day.
In getting drinks with friends, talk about Facebook will turn to a point on the National Labor Relations Board’s efforts to regulate social media policies. A conversation with family about how amazing self-driving cars will be leads to an explanation on the FTC’s recent report on the Internet of Things. Watching The Interview on Netflix with my significant other will give way to a quick comment on data breach trends liability and litigation.
If it sounds odd, it’s because it is. I’m aware. But honestly, this stuff is interesting. This type of regulation, and the ensuing litigation, shape this country as much as any lawmaker or the legislation he or she aims to pass—which is happening less and less frequently nowadays.
So I don’t blame the lawyers and law firms who write on the LexBlog Network for relentlessly chasing such stories in their respective areas. They matter to them, they matter to their clients and, whether we realize it or not, they matter to us too.
Still, I can’t help but think there’s more to blogging than that—and that there are times when even some of the best blogs on our network tend to miss the forest through the trees, if you’ll forgive a cliche.
In reactively chasing the latest legislation, litigation and regulation, attorneys sometimes miss the bigger picture, the interesting stuff. As the law firms we work with pursue SEO results, email subscribers and the white whale that is someone reading a blog post and immediately calling the author for complex high-value work, they return to one central question: how do we get more people to read our stuff?
Well, you write stuff more people want to read. And you do that by writing proactively, not always reacting to the latest legal tidbits.
How do you write proactively? Here are a few questions to consider:
- What broader trends are you noticing in your practice area that are or will soon impact the industry?
- What news, stories or ideas do you you see in your everyday life that make you think about your work?
- What ideas or issues you read about in other practice areas might be applicable to yours?
- What stories might your target audience be interested in and educated by that aren’t specifically legal?
- What causes within your practice area do you care about? What do you want to change?
I’ll return to that last point in a moment, because it’s an important one, but before doing so I want to highlight a blog that’s mastered proactive blogging.
My favorite in this area is the New Miami Blog from Bilzing Sumberg. Their tagline appropriately captures it all, while simultaneously leaving things so wide open: “insights and commentary on the Gateway City’s global significance.” And that’s what they cover—really, everything cool that’s happening to Miami.
As we discussed with them in an LXBN Leaders profile with them last year year, the specifics of that are decided in conversations with contributing lawyers, “in meetings throughout the year where [they] discuss concepts, where the blog is going, what the blog is trying to convey and their area of focus.”
In that same profile, in which we spoke with blog editor-in-chief Albert Dotson, he shared the benefits of their proactive approach:
“If you’re not proactive, if you’re not looking at trends and if you’re not writing about what might happen versus what has occurred, then your blog will most likely be outdated the moment you post,” said Dotson. “[The lawyers] recognized their responsibility to not only write about what has happened, but more importantly the impact about what has happened on the future of our community.” […]
“When we discuss an industry or a trend, … I have heard personally from existing clients who have a new businesses opportunity because something that we wrote triggered an idea that they would like us to help them explore,” said Dotson. “We’ve absolutely have seen our blogs grow into new and expanding businesses relationships.”
What does that type of blogging look like, in practice? For Bilzin Sumberg, just recently, it’s noting how Florida is a model for legislation on public-private partnerships, why transit development is crucial to metropolitan growth, zand how a Canadian real estate broker is expanding its reach with acquisitions in Miami—just to name a few.
So yes, blogging proactively can bring in work. But would you believe it, there are lawyers out there who blog for reasons beyond attracting new clients. Do they appreciate the work that comes as a result? Absolutely, but at times they’re as much a watchdog and advocate as a lawyer.
We have a few who take up this mantle, but my favorite, oddly, is another attorney out of Miami—something in the clear, warm water? This time, it’s Jim Walker of Cruise Law News.
Walker isn’t above blogging reactively, constantly covering the latest bad news in the cruise industry. He does it because “people read Cruise Law News because they are looking for answers to the questions that the cruise industry won’t answer.” Sometimes that includes writing on the latest man overboard story, a foodborne illness outbreak or cruise executive malfeasance.
Other times, as mentioned, it’s more proactive—including putting cruise destinations on notice with a list of the top 10 most dangerous places to visit on a cruise. And if you think putting them “on notice” with a simple listing is taking things too far, you should see the response, as the Minister of Tourism and the Minister of State for National Security for the Bahamas were put on the spot by the media to answer to their country’s place atop Walker’s list.
And Walker’s not the only one on our network who blogs as an advocate, and for a cause—but there can always be more. But even if you’re wary of making enemies, of setting out to stir the pot, there’s still so much to gain from blogging in a way that goes beyond reacting to the latest legal tidbits.
So, lawyers, get your head up—take a look around at what interests you in the world, think about what you’re passionate about and explore what you think is going to make a big difference in the world. Odds are, your audience—and potential clients—would enjoy reading about it.Photo credit: Brian Koprowski