Woes of Legal Blogs

Former legal blogger, Mark Herrmann, may be the smartest law blogger.  Because he’s a former law blogger.  Obviously, I do this voluntarily so there’s not too much complaining which would be well received.  I liken the feeling to people who own boats and exclaim that the best days for a boat owner are only the day you buy the boat and the day you sell it.  If you are thinking about blogging, give thought to the following.

Herrmann wrote an article, “Memoirs of a Blogger,” where he puts the postscript on his involvement in a fairly large legal blog.  In the piece, he discusses the various blind spots which existed and plagued him as a law blogger.

What resoundingly comes across is the fact that blogging turns casual law reading into a hunt.  As he puts it, you no longer “gently” keep abreast of your area of practice.  You hunt down material.  What he does not mention is the “so what” factor — how do I know that I am not simply wasting time and having this go out into the ether?  Does it really matter if I only do one post this week?

Herrmann also did not face any backlash in his firm for writing a blog.  I think a lot of lawyers do.  First, he co-wrote his blog with a lawyer… from another firm.  He did not mention that anyone in his firm had a problem with that — but firms are jealous things.  In a lot of firms, co-working with another law firm beyond “co-counsel” on a case can easily launch whispered questions of disloyalty.

Consider this second scenario: the blogger writes something that a client doesn’t like, another lawyer in the firm doesn’t like or something that gets used against the firm in a case.  Stack a blogger’s interest in a silly little blog against any of those situations… and the blog loses.  In a split second, years of hunting material and designing a site goes down the drain.

Third scenario: no one in your own firm even knows your blog exists.  For that, you have to simply love the hunting and writing.  Over time, that should solve itself.

Fourth scenario: lawyers in the firm don’t get it and don’t like the individuality.  Herrmann refers to this as the cult of personality but, realistically, I don’t see blogs in that kind of hipster light.  This can be the most pernicious of all of the foregoing scenarios since it undermines your actual, human working relationships.  A blogger may knowingly or unknowingly pick the wrong choice.

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