Why Bother Blawging?

Over at Spam Notes, Venkat Balasubramani (whose lengthy name rivals my own) poses the perennial question: “A Topic That Refuses to Die – What Drives the Law Blogger?What Drives the Law Blogger?“.

He mentions the “law marketing” and “client development” angles, which appear to be the driving forces behind most new lawyers (and many older ones) frantically jumping on the social media bandwagon. The fact that “Return on Investment” or “ROI” is difficult, if not impossible, to measure has no deterrent effect. “Publish or Perish”, once the mantra of academia, has now become the rallying cry of social media law marketing types.

Balasubramani concludes:

“…I’ll also add two more reasons to why people blog. First, because it’s fun. Bloggers are an opinionated crowd, and we like to get our opinions out there. Second, lawyers are creatures of affirmation. We live and die by the proverbial pats on the head, or by knowing we’ve gotten the better of someone’s argument. For better or worse, these are rewards in themselves. A third reason may be to contribute to the “collective consciousness,” but I don’t have any delusions that I have the necessary altruistic instincts for this to be a legitimate reason.

Finally, I’ll agree with both of them on the core point. Revenue isn’t even on my list of reasons of why to blog. Your mileage may vary, and I’m no “rainmaker consultant,” but the fact that no one has coherently put forth any data on what blogs clients read, or anything persuasive on the relationship between blogging and revenue should tell you all you need to know. An even more compelling metric for me (and I’ve said this before) is that when I sit down and tally the hours spent blogging, I can’t even think about doing the cost/benefit. It’s easily 3 or 4 vacations worth. And I take my vacations seriously.

Balasubramani is right: there is no coherent, verifiable data on what clients read or any research that correlates blogging and revenue generation. 
So what, you ask? Plenty. 

All you have to do is read Scott Greenfield’s Simple Justice blawg, the Ernest Hemingway of blawgers. Greenfield’s sisyphean efforts to halt the discouraging “race to the bottom” is the acme of legal blogging. Then there’s Brian Tannebaum’s, My Law License, which calls out the uncredentialed and unethical social media law marketing “snake oil salesmen” and their cheerleading squad of “Starbucks lawyers”. While I often disagree with his views, I highly respect Mark W. Bennett’s Defending People, who, in his own words, doesn’t “suffer fools gladly” and is willing to defend the integrity of the legal profession as vigilantly as his own clients.
So why bother blawging? Well, if you’re a real lawyer who wants to master your craft, then blawging is an end to itself.

If you don’t enjoy writing, don’t bother blawging.

If you don’t have any opinions, blawging is a waste of not only your time, but your readers’ time, as well.

If you don’t care about issues affecting your practice and the profession, you’re not cut out for blawging.

If you think that blawging will get you more clients, you don’t know the first thing about the business of law.

If you believe that paying a lawyer marketing firm which promises to get you top “SEO ranking” on Google searches or thousands of followers on Twitter, then I don’t care what you have to say, write, or think.

If, however, you are busy representing clients ethically, dispensing competent legal advice, and always striving to improve your skill set, then blawging may be just the ticket to becoming a better lawyer. When Socrates said that “an unexamined life is not worth living”, he didn’t mean only your personal life, he was referring to your professional life, as well.

4 Responses to “Why Bother Blawging?”

  1. Douglas Says:

    Good points overall.I would add one caveat though: A lawyer should not give legal advice on his or her blog. There is a difference between legal education, giving one's thoughts, and legal advice. Providing legal advice is a risky line to cross.

  2. The Trial Warrior Says:

    Thanks Douglas. If you read my disclaimer, you'll note that I do not dispense legal advice here. Also,I have addressed this issue in my previous post: Too Much Information: Blogging about your client's case

  3. shg Says:

    Thanks, Nino. It's important that this simple truths be stated, repeated and clarified at a time when so many are screaming that the only reason to write is to make a buck.I wonder how many read this and see themselves, while wondering how their SEO is doing.

  4. The Trial Warrior Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Scott. I wish SEO stood for "Save Ethics Online".

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