Law Life: Blogging for lawyers has changed

By Nicole Black
The Daily Record Newswire

When I first wrote about blogging for lawyers in 2006, the benefits were clear-cut.

At the time, publishing a legal blog was one of the only ways to create an effective online presence, and was well worth the effort expended to maintain a blog.

Starting a legal blog was an easy way for an attorney to showcase his or her legal expertise while quickly increasing a law firm’s search engine optimization.

Blogs also were one of the best ways to meet and interact with other lawyers on a national scale. Professional networking was a breeze: There weren’t many lawyers who blogged, and those who did blog quickly became familiar with one another. Likewise, it wasn’t particularly difficult to establish a name as a legal blogger since there wasn’t much competition.

Choosing a focus for a blog also was a simple proposition. At the time, only a few legal blogs existed, and finding an unexplored niche you enjoyed and furthered the goals of your law practice rarely was difficult.

Things have changed a bit since then, but a few things remain the same.

First, well-written lawyer blogs continue to be a good way to increase a law firm’s SEO, since search engines rank attorney websites higher that are updated frequently, repeatedly use key words relevant to a lawyer’s areas of practice and  have many inbound links from other websites.

Second, blogs continue to be a good way to showcase an attorney’s writing skills and expertise. A well-written, interesting blog post on a timely topic shows a potential client you’re capable and up to date on changes in your areas of practice.

Bloggers who are generous in linking to other attorneys’ blogs and engaging in conversations with other practitioners on their blogs find that blogging remains an effective way to connect with lawyers in their practice areas, although social media sites largely have replaced that particular function of blogging.

Since 2006, however, many things have changed, reducing the payoffs of legal blogging.

Competition for SEO is fierce today. Newly created blogs have a much more difficult time breaking into the search engine rankings, especially in areas of law such as personal injury, since there literally are hundreds upon hundreds of personal injury bloggers, each repeatedly using the same key words and writing about the exact same topics, over and over.

Along that same vein, because of the proliferation of law blogs, choosing a niche also is far more difficult. Chances are, a number of other lawyers already are blogging about the very topic on which you wish to write. Differentiating yourself from the pack can be difficult — especially when, like many lawyers, you would prefer to simply offer an update on changes in the law or summarize new cases, rather than offer your opinion on a divisive topic.

Professional networking via a legal blog also is less effective in 2010. It used to be that blogs and listservs were some of the only ways in which to meet and interact with lawyers in other parts of the country. Now that tech-savvy lawyers are flocking to social media sites in droves, blogs no longer are the most effective way to connect with other lawyers.

The good news is, legal blogging is not dead. It’s simply changing, in large part due to the influence of social media.

Social media sites have replaced some of the functions of blogging, since many such sites are more effective at achieving some of the benefits blogging used to offer, such as professional networking. On the flip side, social media sites provide newfound and very effective forums for promoting blog posts.

I’ll discuss this phenomenon further in a future column and explain how social media can be used to promote your law firm’s blog and your law practice simultaneously. In the meantime, rest assured that while social media have changed the nature of law blogs, legal blogging still can be worthwhile endeavor.

Nicole Black is of counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach in Rochester. She co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise, and is currently writing a book about cloud computing for lawyers that will be published by the ABA in early 2011. She is the founder of and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at