Lawyers Write Blogs About All Sorts of Things - The Evolution of Lawyer Blogs

The word "blog" is actually a contraction of the phrase "web log," and back in the day, folk wrote web logs or journals, usually writing about personal diary-like topics: day's events, family life, etc.  As the internet grew in popularity and technology got more user-friendly, it cost less in time and money to start a web log. 

People took notice.  Business minds pondered how these logs, or journals, could be revamped to sell products or services.  News junkies started blogs to share scoops (think Drudge Report).  Educators thought of ways blogs could provide learning opportunities and ways to share information over the web.  Political pundits started blogs to share their views (e.g., Little Green Footballs).  Families figured out how blogs could connect loved ones in all sorts of locations, even in war zones.  The list goes on.

In the midst of this, there were lawyers who started blogs with a personal touch.  They opined to their colleagues about pending cases, new legislation, the state of the law - and of the legal profession.  Some were more analysis-oriented than others, but it was usually a single attorney writing a short blog post (article on a web log) several times a month, or week, or day, like Howard J. Bashman's How Appealing where he's been writing "the Web's first blog devoted to appellate litigation" since May 2002. 

Then the idea hit for business development via a web log or blog.  We began reading more about "blawgs."  Law firm web sites were no longer cutting edge; now, blawgs were the new trend.   Law firm marketing strategies began to incorporate blogs into their rainmaking plans in much the same way that Web 2. 0 campaigns do now (i.e., the use of Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn). 

Blogs for lawyers and law firms diversified.  The intended readers of lawyer-generated blogs are varied: some are targeting potential clients, some are targeting referring attorneys, some are seeking to support an issue or to build public awareness about it.

Some blawgs consistently give opinion, some never do.  Some blawgs are funny, some are serious.  Some deal with the law, and some don't. 

Lawyers Who Blog About Things Other Than Law -- Ten Examples

For example, here are a few blogs appearing on the web today that are written by lawyers that have nothing to do with legal issues:
  1. Appalachian Trail Hike 2010 -- coverage of  hiking the Appalachian Trail " ... from the perspective of a lawyer, an ivy grad, and a city chick," via a blog on the Blogger platform (together with videos on MySpace, photos on Picasa, etc.), hiking from Georgia to Maine in one year's time. There's a documentary now, too. 
  2. Nathan B. Hannah, Attorney   -- periodic posts on jazz from a lawyer "who'd rather write music commentary."  Wish he'd write more - what's there is good stuff. 
  3. Ironlawyer -- an attorney posts about preparing for an Ironman competition with her husband - they completed a half-Ironman in May 2011.  Hopefully, there will be more posts after they recuperate.
  4. Paul's Travel Blog -- with periodic blog posts, this lawyer dedicates his travelogue to "...discuss[ing] a bit how a legal education changes your general behavior, decreases your appetite for certain kinds of risk. Now, it is true that the profession probably draws the risk-adverse simply because a legal education is seen as a "safe" field for moderate professional and economic success.... Yes, I believe that law school and law practice have made me a more cautious, risk-adverse person."
  5. Instapundit --  Glenn Reynolds is a law professor at the University of Tennessee who publishes a political blog as part of "Pajamas Media," whose personal passion is pondering "...the intersection between advanced technologies and individual liberty."  Instapundit has been on the web since 2001.
  6. Black Coffee and a Donut -- two sisters who are both attorneys have dedicated their blog to their foodie passion, and have a great food blog with very nice photos covering local restaurants as well as food finds during their travels (which do include Paris, of course).  Recently covered in the Baltimore, Maryland Daily Record.
  7. Everyday Simplicity -- my own blog, begun in January 2006, where I post regularly on issues of living a simplicity lifestyle, which includes issues like going green, downsizing, career change, recipes, cleaning tips, and being more frugal. 
  8. LeffStyle -- former NYC entertainment lawyer blogs on interior design with lots of photos, who educates readers not only on design, but designers. Chic and fun.
  9. Michelle's In Cambodia -- as a lawyer who moves overseas to Cambodia to teach English and have adventure, Michelle is as much a photographer as a writer and there are many wonderful photos uploaded here on her blog documenting her journey as well as her periodic posts.
  10. ProFootballTalk - an all-things-football blog, hosted by NBC.com as of June 2009, with lawyer Mike Florio as its editor; Florio also contributes posts to its "Daily Rumor Mill," with news tips as well as his viewpoints on all things pro football.  It's not known how much Florio got paid by NBC when he sold his blog to them, but he's remained at its helm as editor since the sale. 


Tip on Finding the Time To Write That Blog Post

Blog posts are more than tweets or likes - you have to find a topic and spend some time writing at least a paragraph or two.  This is true when you're writing a personal journal type of blog.  If you're writing another kind of blog -- informational, research-oriented, etc. then it means even more involvement.

Which I discuss with my lawyer clients regularly because if it isn't a panic on finding something to write about, it's about finding the time to write the post (let's not even get started on the comments).  Here's something that helps: a timer.

That's right.  A timer.  Any old kitchen timer will do, as will the one on your phone or your watch (ahem).  However, here's one that I really like because it appears onscreen at the bottom of your window:  FocusBooster.

FocusBooster is free.  It's a part of a larger time management technique that you may find helpful (many do) but for now, I have to say that downloading FocusBooster and having that little timer bar counting down the seconds as you are typing away keeps you ... well ... FOCUSED.

It alarms at 25 minutes.  Then you get a 5 minute count.  Once that dings, you've got to restart FocusBooster.

The beauty of FocusBooster is that if you play your cards right, you'll hit that green square and get going, and before 25 minutes are up, voila!  Another post on your blog.

Try it.  According to Lifehacker, it's the most popular software of its kind out there right now. 


5 More Tips on Finding Things to Write About in Your Law Blog

Last fall, I wrote a guest post for Scoop, JD Supra's blog, that gave attorneys tips on finding topics for blog posts.  I won't repurpose that content - if you want to read those tips, go check out "5 Tips for Finding Things to Write About in Your Blog Posts or Legal Articles" over at JD Supra's blog. 

This time around, I thought I'd discuss themes and scheduling.  Magazines, for example, work in the long-term and not only do they have their publications scheduled months, if not years, in advance they also have annual theme issues (e.g., the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue; Time's Man (or Woman) of the Year; People's 50 Most Beautiful). 

You can do this, too.  Here's what I mean:

Five Tips for Finding Things to Write About in Your Next Blog Post

1.  Tie your practice area to a theme and write your posts around that theme for a certain period of time.  For example, tax attorneys might take six weeks near year-end and write a series of posts dedicated to issues surrounding tax strategies, charitable deductions, pending tax legislation, etc.  Stagger the posts over the last two months of the year.  Plan for it. 

2. Have certain "annual" blog themes.  Hurricane season starts June 1st every year, and here in Texas as well as the rest of the Gulf Coast, we are well aware of it.  Personal injury blogs could calendar that date and each year write a series of posts that deal with hurricane preparation, how to file a claim, warnings that homeowner's coverage is not the same as flood insurance, etc. 

3.  Consider pending legislation and what will happen when/if it passes and write a series of posts on the new law(s).  For example, Florida recently did a big whammy on its state budget by gutting a lot of state oversight agencies.  Conservationists are upset; developers are excited.  Posting a few short articles on what has happened and what it means is good for blog readers and it also provides the lawyer with a solid base of reference links along with an ability to demonstrate his or her legal acumen by explaining what the new statutes mean to the rest of us.

4.  Look at what is going on in your world, bite the bullet, and write about it.  Get personal and share with your reader.  Is the tanking economy causing your staff to start talking about car pooling, or are you seeing more people bagging their lunches now?  Write about this.  Here in San Antonio, for example, there is a growing number of thieves who are stealing pedigree dogs out of homes.  Heartbroken pet owners are offering huge rewards ($4000 was on a Reward poster at my local taco house last week) no questions asked.  Makes me angry.  If I were writing an animal law blog here, I'd be writing about that trend. 

5.  Create a blogging calendar and block out themes that correspond to your practice areas.  Personal injury could split the year with two months on Med Mal, two months on Wrongful Death, etc.  Then, within those themes, search for news stories (local is better) that correspond with the theme of that time period.  And, don't forget to link to the news story and do not cut and paste from it.  Use your words, and use the link as your support.