Letterpress BlogAttorneys looking for a strategic edge in a tough economy should take a few minutes to read how some New Hampshire lawyers are enhancing their practices and raising their profile.

Their solution? Blogging. And the lawyers interviewed by the talented Dan Wise of the New Hampshire Bar Association share the reasons that a law blog makes the difference. Here’s part of the story opening:

“‘I thought [blogging] was a great idea, but I figured other people must already be doing it,’” says [attorney Kysa] Crusco. ‘When I went home and did a web search, it turned out that there weren’t many, if any, family law blogs. The nhfamilylawblog.com URL was available, so I reserved it and contacted Lexblog. They got my blog up and running, and I started writing. I was able to see an immediate effect in articles that I posted and the potential clients that were calling for a consultation.’”

Kysa touches on what continues to be a surprise to me, 15 years after the first law blog was launched (though there’s debate on who was first): The surprise that, all these years later, relatively few lawyers write a blog. And that is a missed opportunity.

Let’s examine the necessary elements:

  1. There are 26 tools—if you count every letter of the alphabet.
  2. There is some modicum of writing ability.
  3. There is some practice knowledge.
  4. There is a small (and shrinking) technology aspect.

We already know that lawyers avoid math, not words, and every lawyer I know possesses a large amount of practice knowledge. So … what’s the boggle?

Typically, it comes down to a misunderstanding of strategy or—more particularly—differentiation. Here’s what I mean.

You probably think that potential clients can distinguish you from other lawyers in your practice area because, um, you went to a good law school. Or because you were in the Order of the Coif. Or served as Assistant Managing Editor on your law journal.

Of course, none of that distinguishes you (except to your mom, who always asks what was up with that “Assistant” in your title).

What does distinguish you is something that is wholly unique. No, not your fingerprint or hair whorl. I mean—writing.

The “creating content is hard” worry may be a significant one to you. But remember that more and more people will gauge your abilities not by your resume, but by a smidgen of content on your website. And they will devour that content; if it’s helpful stuff, they will come to you for more.

New Hampshire Bar Association logoThose who want to buy legal services are not seeking a terrific writer, so don’t let that put you off. But they do seek a person behind the website. They want to hear how you think.

A blog can do that. Sure, it takes a commitment of time. But at least it’s not math.

I was particularly intrigued by some of the findings of the New Hampshire Bar:

“To research this article, Bar News reached out to Bar members to submit information about their blogs and we have compiled a selective list. We also have conducted numerous searches on Google—just as many potential clients do—to find New Hampshire lawyers’ articles and blogs. The results were disappointing. There are only a few freestanding blogs offering timely advice that showcase the ability of lawyers to plainly explain current questions of law. Unfortunately, many blogs or articles on law firm websites are either out of date or populated by content designed not for readers, but for search-engine robots.”

blogging cartoon via AMP

Blogging: It’s just not that hard. (click to enlarge.)

I wonder what my results would be if I were to search for Arizona lawyer blogs. This past year, we did start a Blog Network on which any Arizona lawyer may add their link (and where we currently have more than 60). But there must be more out there.

And before you abandon blogging plans as a fad or idea that doesn’t gel with the profession, remember, as Dan Wise writes, “While SEO techniques are helpful in the 21st century world of digital marketing, certain old-fashioned values still apply: Success comes to those who prepare carefully and commit themselves to a strategy for the long haul.”

Sound like you? I thought so. Now, go back and finish that New Hampshire story.

Please contact me if you ever want to talk about blogging. I’m curious how it affects your practice.

We all have heard the message more than once that social media is becoming essential for lawyers and law practice. But do we believe it?

How many lawyers (show of hands) participate in social media beyond some Facebook convos with their high school buddies? How many think that social media may be of some utility in certain other practice areas, but certainly not in theirs?

The April issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine will have some content regarding social media—in regard to employment issues for your clients and in regard to why you should be blogging yourself. But then I looked over at LinkedIn.

You know LinkedIn, that most buttoned-down and business-oriented of all the social media—the place where even the most traditional lawyer should feel at home. This ain’t Tumblr (which I like too; follow me here). And on LinkedIn, I specifically looked at the State Bar of Arizona’s page.

Yes, the State Bar has a LinkedIn page, where there is the occasional great Q&A string. But so far, not many Arizona lawyers have availed themselves of the community offered. Have you?

My inquiry about lawyers and social media is fueled not just by the only-moderate response to the Bar’s LinkedIn group. In addition, online last night I spotted an event that tells me we better get going on this social media thing. (And yes, I saw the event on Twitter.)

Up northwest at the Seattle University School of Law, a social media panel is occurring today, Wednesday, perhaps while you’re reading this blog. The teaser for the “Social Media Panel” is a simple one: “Want To Know How Social Media Can Really Benefit Today’s Law Student and Lawyer? Attend This Event And Learn How LinkedIn Can Work For You!”

More information is here.

Kevin O'Keefe

The session will open with a one-hour session on maximizing the use of LinkedIn for career searches.

Hold up: One HOUR? I’ve never had any training on LinkedIn, and I suspect it has far more functionality than I could imagine. I am beginning to wish I were in Seattle.

Then the law students’ day continues with this: “A panel of local attorneys and entrepreneurs will discuss strategic ways to use social media in the legal profession and the impact of social media on the legal community.”

That panel will include Kevin O’Keefe, CEO and Publisher of LexBlog, Inc.

In case you don’t know, Kevin O’Keefe is the author of the great blog “Real Lawyers Have Blogs” (guess how he feels). It’s housed on his LexBlog Network (he’s the CEO). More about Kevin is here. And you can follow him on Twitter (@kevinokeefe).

So here we have a law school providing its students instruction and guidance on social media. Assuming the event is jammed, students are voting with their butts and their time on what direction they see law practice heading: the way of social media.

Would such a seminar be helpful to Arizona lawyers and law students? I think so. But what do you think? Shall we (or I) begin to explore the possibility?

Here’s how you can tell me: Start a new conversation on the Bar’s LinkedIn group. Or send me a tweet (@azatty). Or even post a comment below.

Inquiring—and social—minds want to know.