Blog evangelism. Check. Professional engagement. Check. Surprising questions. Check, natch.

Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity logoYesterday, I had the privilege to present on the topic of lawyers and blogging to a national law society. As expected, I learned as much as I imparted.

The Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity held their annual conference in Scottsdale, and it was a pleasure to meet with many of its members as I presented on how to manage the multi-channel chaos that faces us (and use a blog to build your practice and secure your image).

You can see the list of rotating workshops here. I’m sure you’ll agree, there was some pretty serious content on offer—plus blogging, by me.

As is my custom, I took a photo of my two workshop audiences as they began to drift into the room.

My first audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Much experience in practice, questions about functionality.

My first audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Much experience in practice, questions about functionality.

My second audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Younger attorneys and law students: Hard questions about blogging.

My second audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Younger attorneys and law students: Hard questions about blogging.

Each group was attentive, slept only a little, and had engaging questions at the end.

As occurs at the best conferences, some of their questions took me by surprise. But the surprises are where we presenters learn.

One young attendee asked about the overall professional wisdom of blogging. She related a story about a hiring lawyer who reviewed submitted resumes. When he spotted an applicant who touted their blog, he threw the c.v. in the trash. His reasoning: He didn’t want to hire someone who spent their time blogging.

Another young questioner said that she most often got advice to eliminate as much of her electronic contributions as possible, rather than add to them with a blog. She feared that every online offering, including blog posts, could eventually be sifted and analyzed and held against her by employers and professional colleagues.

Meanwhile, the questions I received from older audience members were more expected ones and had to do with functionality: Do I recommend WordPress over Blogger? How often do I post? Where do I locate public-domain images?

The risk-averseness-ness among younger voices took me by surprise. But these folks face a shifting world, one in which the media portray the online world generally and social media (even blogging) in particular as dotted with pitfalls.

So I responded (as I recall) that our best professional judgment will keep most of us from serious error online, just as it always has in person. A sober—even if occasionally cheeky—assessment of a legal topic is unlikely to cause anyone long-term harm. In fact, people (lawyers and non-lawyers) are more likely to be impressed by what makes your voice unique than they are by how well you recede into the mass of your navy-suited colleagues.

And, I pointed out, a post that assesses a recent Supreme Court case, for instance, is unlikely to generate the kind of professional shame that may accompany a naked drunk tweet. Professional tip: Avoid those.

I added that if your blog is well done, potential employers will spot the bottom-line value as quickly as they spot the book of business you may bring. Each is a professional asset that may be touted and capitalized on.

Finally, I added that if electronically stored evidence has taught us anything, it is that (1) yes, all that data (including your drunk tweet) will “stay out there forever,” but (2) it is amazingly expensive to go back years and years and years to locate a single tweet or a single Facebook post or a single screen-shotted Snapchat. An employer may not care to do that with an associate attorney applicant. I believe the media stories are largely a bunch of scare-tactic B.S. Then again, your mileage may vary.

Aside from the occasional hiring partner who doesn’t have a clue how to read resumes and assess value.

But those audience questions linger in my mind. They lead me to re-assess the part of my presentations that explain the value prospect in blogging. For clearly, the challenges and media scare tactics faced by younger attorneys and law students require a new and different response.

Thank you again to Phi Alpha Delta and its Executive Director Andrew Sagan for the invite. I had a blast—and learned a lot.

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