You are on page 1of 2

Lawyer Blogs: Overview and Advice from Palm Beach County Bloggers

By Diana L. Martin the scope is too narrow, you may lose


and Christopher B. Hopkins interest, material, and readership. In 2006,
FloridaArbitrationLaw.com was founded
Both the public and the legal
because arbitration-related opinions and
profession have embraced web blogs as a
developments were coming out faster than
form of informative expression. A
law journal articles could be written.
movement is afoot for lawyers to host both
Arbitration revealed itself to be a healthy
“standard” websites and more informative
niche, as fresh material was available each
blogs. Many blogging lawyers are quick to
week to be processed into “bite size” blog Internet is likely to disappear.
confirm their business value; naysayers
posts. A good blogger will pick an The number one complaint from
scoff that blogging is a waste of time with
appropriate area of the law with an eye bloggers is the demand to find the time to
no business purpose. Our article will
towards the question, “Can I write about develop quality content on a regular basis.
explain lawyer blogging, provide advice
this twice a week for more than a year?” Reading cases and writing three to four
from Florida lawyer bloggers, and guide
Step two is to find a catchy domain paragraphs twice a week is harder than it
you to Palm Beach lawyer blogs.
name and register it, which typically costs seems. You need to be willing to develop
Website versus Blog? about $10 per year. Companies such as good writing skills, enjoy it, and be
Back in 2002, the American Bar GoDaddy.com can assist. Next, you need a patient as you gain readers and receive
Association concluded that more than 85% web hosting company, such as 1 & 1, feedback on your blog.
of law firms have a website. That is which will host your site and, preferably, Bloggers in a larger firm should be
impressive because lawyers are typically give you the software to create a crisp, mindful of how fellow associates and
late adopters of technology. A more recent readable blog. Other free options, such as partners view this new undertaking.
report from a Thomson-West subsidiary Blogger, Word Press, and Posterous can Surprisingly, some bloggers report
suggested that visitors to law firm sites also assist and reduce start-up costs. outright hostility and misunderstanding
read lawyer biographies and practically Alternatively, find a tech savvy out of fear that the individual blogger is
nothing else. Articles posted on a firm site professional, paralegal or student to set it somehow trying to “break out” on their
were often ignored. See http://bit.ly/lSthC all up for little to no cost. Bottom line: a own. While there are firms that have both
Enter the blog, which is typically a free- blog can easily cost less than one hundred a standard website and a blog embedded
standing website (e.g. BoatingLaw.com) dollars per year. in the same site, this practice eliminates
under a different URL address than the And, before you write your first post, the possibility of having a catchy domain
law firm (FirmName.com). On the blog, read the “Blogger’s Legal Guide” at name as well as a standard firm site. Also,
“posts” provide a few paragraphs of text http://bit.ly/wW1Uh for a list of dos and a blog on a law firm site may be
discussing a new case, legal development don’ts. disregarded as a biased advertisement for
or news. On the blog, it is customary for Blogging: Pros and Cons the firm. Alternatively, some firms may
the law firm name to take a back seat to If developments in your area of the want the blog-commentary safely hosted
the actual content. While informative, the law are whizzing past you faster than you at an arm’s length distance on a wholly
blog post is written in a lighter, more can update your (rarely used) personal file separate domain. Moreover, that perceived
accessible tone, often with some humor or cabinet, a blog is an excellent way to keep independence fits better with the blogging
personality. Depending upon the blogger, an online, searchable file of materials that atmosphere.
it can be a “straight” report or offer a you deem important to your practice area. The risk of blogging is that you may
perspective, but it should be concisely Yes, it is out there for others to see. But find yourself reading cases, magazines,
delivered because it will likely be read on- you will have better knowledge and access and journals for the sole purpose of trying
the-go via laptop or smart phone. to the information when you need it to vacuum up potential content for your
A general review of the “blogosphere (especially if you need access to it on the site. Some bloggers fear being accused of
“ demonstrates better blog posts are lively, road or in the court). Moreover, other having too much time on their hands or
direct, informative, and (at least lawyers relying upon your site for that readers will think the blogger is
seemingly) unbiased. Moreover, a good information can increase your reputation simply self-aggrandizing.
blog is thoughtfully updated on a regular and demonstrate your expertise in a So why blog? A blog will give you
basis – usually twice a week on specific particular area of law. credibility and expertise in your area. It
days – so readers know when to expect Tone and attitude are also important. also places your analysis on public display
new content. In sum, while a firm website While fired up behind the keyboard, you that is only a Google search away from
is an electronic billboard that requires only may succumb to denouncing insurance your next client. More succinctly, let us
general maintenance, a blog is a garden companies or the government – and it may borrow a quote from our friends at Drug
that demands constant tending. be well-received by your immediate and Device Law blog: “Blog for pleasure;
audience – but careful phrasing and a blog to stay abreast of your field of law;
How a Blog is Created and Updated
balanced approach may allow your blog to influence the public debate; blog
Step one is to decide what issue to
perspective to become more refined over to raise both your firm’s and your
address in the blog. If the scope of a blog
the years without risking “blogger’s personal profile in your legal niche.”
is too broad , you may lose focus, but if
remorse.” Remember, nothing on the
Continued on page 16
September 2009 Page 15
Florida Bar Board of Governors Report
At its July 17 meeting in Naples, The Florida Bar Board of Stone that Foundation IOTA revenues have been declining, from
Governors: $44 million three years ago, $24 million two years ago, and $11
■ Approved the “judicial candidate voluntary self-disclosure million last year to an anticipated $5.7 million in the coming
statement” as proposed by the Judicial Administration and year. The Foundation is pushing to increase lawyer pro bono
Evaluation Committee and slightly modified by the Program efforts and also to get more private donations, she said.
Evaluation Committee. The statement will be given to all trial ■ Received on first reading proposed rule amendments that would
court candidates in future elections and their answers posted on impose additional requirements on lawyers who are suspended
the Bar’s website. The approval included providing copies of the and have not been reinstated for a period of three years or
self-disclosure statement to candidates in Creole and Spanish, longer. The proposed rule amendments will come back to the
but it will be up to candidates to provide translations of their board for final reading at its September meeting. Among the
answers. proposed new requirements, lawyers would have to show that
■ Approved, on the recommendation of the Member Benefits they have taken 10 hours of CLE for each year or part of a year
Committee, an agreement with Affiniscape Merchant Solutions, during which they are ineligible to practice, show familiarity
which provides credit card services for law firms. Affiniscape, with the law, and if they waited more than 5 years to seek
when attorneys accept credit card payments for retainers, will reinstatement retake the MPRE and Florida portions of the bar
automatically deposit the retainer it the attorney’s trust account exam.
but take the expenses related to the transaction from the law ■ Heard President Jesse Diner announce what he sees as the major
office operating account, as required by Bar rules. Under the issues confronting the Bar this year. Those include: Working to
agreement, Affiniscape, which has similar arrangements with 40 implement electronic filing for the courts; continuing to
other state and local bars, will offer discounted rates for Bar advocate for adequate funding for the courts; defending SB
members. 2108 which passed this year and put the funding of court-related
■ Endorsed, on the recommendation of the Legislation functions of elected clerks of the court under legislative
Committee, the ABA position opposing the Federal Trade overview; pushing to address the legal needs of children,
Commission’s efforts to include lawyers and law firms in its especially carrying out recommendations from the Commission
Red Flag regulations requiring extra efforts by creditors to on the Legal Needs of Children; and helping lawyers address
protect debtors from identity theft. The ABA argues that the current difficult economic conditions.
existing ethical rules protect client information and that Should you have any questions, please contact one of the
providing legal services to clients does not make lawyers Circuit’s four representatives: Greg Coleman, Scott Hawkins, Lisa
creditors. Small, David Prather or Florida Bar President Jay White.
■ Heard a report from Florida Bar Foundation President Adele

Lawyer Blogs
(flbwatch.com) with links to nearly 100 InjuryLaw.Labovick.com, and
Continued from page 15
Florida lawyer blogs. SouthFloridaPersonalInjuryBlog.com.
Blogs As Marketing ABAJournal.com/blawgs and Miscellaneous: other helpful blogs
Many law bloggers will sheepishly blogs.WSJ.com/law categorize legal blogs include blog.PappasTax.com (tax),
admit that they get no more business from according to subject and region. RubinOnTax.blogspot.com (tax),
their blogs than they do from going to Commentary: AbstractAppeal.com, FloridaAssetProtection.blogs.com,
expensive conferences or speaking hosted by a St. Petersberg lawyer, provides FLProbateLitigation.com,
engagements. Yet many of us continue to a daily overview of new cases; more SoFloridaEstatePlanning.com, and
“market” that way. Locally, Palm Beach locally, FloridaLawCommentary.com, TimothyPowersOneill.wordpress.com
bloggers report generating up to ten files a JAAblog.jaablaw.com, (land use).
year from blogs while turning down other SDFLA.blogspot.com, and A review of these Florida law blogs
business along the way. For these authors, SouthFloridaLawyers.blogspot.com also may well inspire you to create your own.
blogging has led to being quoted in the provide South Florida legal news. Christopher B. Hopkins is a
Wall Street Journal, Daily Business Criminal Law: Several Bar members shareholder at Butzel Long, P.C. (Palm
Review, and the Palm Beach Post. It has host criminal law sites including Beach) and Diana L. Martin is an
also led to a flurry of emails from lawyers CriminalDefenseBlog.blogspot.com, associate at Leopold~Kuvin (Palm Beach
asking questions, seeking guidance in the FloridaDUILawyerBlog.com, Gardens). Hopkins@butzel.com and
blogger’s area of legal expertise. JusticeFlorida.com, and Dmartin@leopoldkuvin.com.
Regardless, be patient, treat blogging as a PalmBeachCriminal.blogspot.com.
creative professional outlet, and let the Civil Litigation: A great refresher Be sure to follow the Bar on its
marketing success develop on its own. before trial is to review Jury Selection Twitter and facebook pages. Go the
Blog (juryblog.com). Other Bar members the Bar’s homepage and click on
Legal Blogs to Consider
host litigation sites such as the icons in the lower right hand
Starting Places: a West Palm Beach
FloridaWorkersCompensationLawyer.com, corner, www.palmbeachbar.org
lawyer hosts Florida Lawyers Blog Watch
Florida-Personal-Injury-Lawyer-Blog.com,
Page 16 Bulletin