by Debra Talcott
“I have been blogging for three years—as long as I have been an attorney,” says Schmidt. “When I left my previous firm in 2011, I offered to continue writing their blog, and thus the idea of ghost blogging was born.”
Schmidt says solo practitioners and small firms need to find new ways to distinguish themselves and create niche markets, and that blogging is an effective way to do both. Yet, some attorneys lack the time or confidence to use this form of communication as a way to grow their practices.
“Seventy-six percent of potential clients go online at some point in the process of finding a lawyer. Legal blogs give those clients insight into the person they’re hiring, and blogs demonstrate the lawyer’s expertise in a way no other advertising can.”
Before accepting a new client of her own, Schmidt meets personally with the attorney to discuss topics the blogs will cover, the attorney’s areas of practice, target audience, and appropriate tone for the blogs.
“I offer several packages and add-on services, which I will explain, and we will decide what schedule works best for him or her,” says Schmidt. “Once we have an agreement, I will write an article or two and send them to the attorney for approval before we go live. That way the lawyer knows what they are getting before it goes public.”
Schmidt admits that some lawyers are uneasy about offering legal advice through blogging.
“But writing a blog is no different from contributing articles to a local newspaper or magazine or writing a book,” explains Schmidt. “It is my understanding that since there is no personalized information, there is no relationship. Any ethical con-
cerns can also be addressed with a standardized disclaimer and by encouraging commenters to contact the attorney for a consultation if they have questions.”
A 2009 graduate of Cooley Law School, Schmidt comes with far more and varied writing experience than the typical attorney.
“I have a bachelor’s degree in English with a creative writing focus from Michigan State University. Most lawyers don’t have the same writing background, and it definitely gave me an advantage on law school exams and in Law Review.”
Schmidt considers herself fortunate to be able to blend her passion for writing with her law practice.
“I get my love of writing from my mother, who worked in a high school helping young writers for many years, and I believe people do their best work when they do what they love. I have always been a writer and wanted a way to build more of that ability into my work as a lawyer. Since I enjoy writing blog posts—a rare quality, I am sure—Legal Linguist seemed like the perfect fit.”
Schmidt welcomes anyone who wants to begin blogging to check out the blog section on the Legal Linguist website for tips and strategies for legal blog writing. There readers can learn about key factors that lead to effective blogging, such as using plain English and adopting a friendly, rather than technical, tone.
When she is not writing blogs, Schmidt enjoys writing in the fantasy and science fiction genres.
“Most of my stories are inspired by various injustices I see in the world. I wrap those injustices in a fantastic setting inviting readers to look at these problems in different ways. I have yet to formally publish any fictional writing, but I have several stories in the works.”
A native of Macomb County, Schmidt lived in Lansing and St. Joseph before settling in Ferndale and opening her practice, which specializes in family law, criminal defense, and civil rights.
“I live with my partner, who is a software developer. His knowledge has given me an edge on understanding the technology behind blogging and Internet marketing.”
Like most writers, Schmidt enjoys an interesting variety of activities that enrich her life and offer exposure to topics that might end up in her creative writing.
In her free time, Schmidt shares her expertise and time with the ACLU of Michigan, where she serves on state and local boards and lawyers’ committees. She also volunteers at the Affirmations Community Center in Ferndale on the organization’s Faith Alliance.
“I have always seen the legal profession as a public service. Working with nonprofit organizations is important to me and allows me to help those whose voice would not otherwise be heard.”
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