Sunday, May 18, 2008
The American Lawyer ran an interesting article on May 2, 2008 entitled Cutting a Winning Edge in Law Firm Blogs which is about law firm blogging-particularly large law firm blogging. A survey showed 26% of the American Lawyer Top 200 law firms have blogs. The article questions why blogging has not caught on more. It cites concerns that blogging will cut into the all important "billable hour" and the fact that something might be posted that a client disagrees with. The article also questions how much business blogs really generate, but then goes on to cite a firm which attracts up to 10% of its business from its employment law blog. As the article states:
Here's the first thing firms need to know about blogs: If you want to get rich off the Internet, marry a Google shareholder. Yes, there have been lawyers -- and firms -- that have gotten work when someone read a post and liked what they saw, but it's not an everyday occurance. Daniel Schwartz, a partner at Bridgeport, Connecticut's Pullman & Comley who started his Connecticut Employment Law Blog last year when he was a partner at New York's Epstein Becker & Green, estimates that 5 to 10 percent of his practice is due to his blog, which gets about 300 visits a day. And he'll regularly get several calls each week from prospective clients who read his posts. But the vast majority of those calls -- perhaps 95 percent -- are dead ends, matters that fall outside his practice. In fact, most law bloggers say that the bulk of the correspondence they get, typically in the form of comments that readers post on the blog or e-mails sent to them, is spam -- people looking to sell something or tout their own blogs.
The real payoff is indirect. "I can't tell you of any new cases we've brought in directly as a result of the blog, but there have been intangible benefits," says Carlton Fields's Allen. "We're providing a service for our clients, doing summaries of recent class-action decisions and arbitrations. They don't have to pay for it, and they love that. It enhances our reputation as a go-to firm for class actions."
Because a blog needs to be updated constantly (or readers will stop coming back), it forces lawyers to stay up-to-date on current developments in their area. Blogs also often lead to media inquiries. They're an easy way for reporters to find experts on a topic, which increases the lawyer's visibility, as well as the firm's.
I have a good friend who is partner at a so call "premier" large NYC management side labor law firm. He has told me several times that he would have serious problems with any of his associates writing an article or a blog posting without it first being vented through the firm partners. They do not want anything said that may hurt a client.
Because of this, I have lost a lot of respect for attorney law review articles and blogs. Today, I have much more confidence in reading something from a law school professor because they are less likely to presented a slanted view.
Having said that, I too am a practing lawyer. I try to be objective and that is one of the major reasons this blog is on the law professor blog network.
Mitchell H. Rubinstein