Controversy Over Value of Legal Blogs
In his article entitled "A Contrarian View of Legal Blogs", Joe Hartley looked at how well legal blogs fit into a firm's business plan.
According to Hartley, "(I)f you are in a narrow area of practice with rapid developments, a blog can nicely advertise your expertise, although you do have to worry about giving away the store. It can, if you think it appropriate for your business plan, burnish your reputation as an expert in a specific field. If you are something of a celebrity, people may even enjoy reading your opinions on developing events. But if you're like the vast majority of lawyers, you don't fit into this category. "
In his conclusion, he asks why the big rush to legal blogs:
"What, in legal practice, is so crucial that it needs to get out immediately? I can't think of much of anything that actually fits into the business plans of most law firms. A well-written piece in your firm's library of available articles, composed without the pressure of immediate deadlines, will serve your firm far better than following the blogging crowd and joining the cacophony of loud voices and empty content."
This prompted a piece by Robert Ambrogi entitled Blogging's Contrarians.
The gist of his response to Hartley is that "his ultimate conclusion -- that a library of articles on a law firm's Web site will serve your firm far better than a blog -- is simply wrong. A library of articles has value for showing your firm's capabilities, but a library will not draw visitors to your site with anywhere near as much certainty or power as a blog. To the extent that marketing on the Internet is about attracting visitors, a blog will dramatically outperform just about any other method there is."
But, as he writes, "Blogging is not the be-all or end-all of legal marketing. It is, however, highly effective for raising one's visibility and stature on the Internet."
Ambrogi's text attracted very balanced and intelligent comments.
In Canada, of course, there are so few lawyers who blog that the issue may not yet be as important. And since I come to the issue from the library side of things, the motivation for blogging is somewhat different: most law library blogs are an extension of more traditional current awareness and resource sharing tools (though we do love the compliments and the indirect marketing buzz...)
Still, Canadian law firms have an advantage in that they can watch the American experience with blogs to evaluate exactly what purpose they can and should have: probably a bit of marketing, a bit of reputation boosting as technologically cool, a bit of public education too.