State of AmLaw Blogosphere

There have been some great reports on law firm blogs recently.

Kevin O’Keefe published an update to regular reporting of law firm blogs: State of the AmLaw 200 Blogosphere, November 2008

Greg Lambert put together a list of Large Law Firm Officially Sanctioned Blogs and followed up with a Report Card on Whether The Law Firms Were Blog-Proud or Blog Tolerant. The report card credits those law firms that make it very easy to find their attorney blogs as being “blog-proud.”

Kevin lists 159 blogs at 72 of the AmLaw 200 law firms. Greg lists 141 blogs at 56 firms. Kevin points out 37 blogs were not firm branded. Greg should add a third list of those firms that are “blog-intolerant.”

The remarkable side of these stories is the tremendous growth. Kevin point out that in August 2007, only 39 firms were blogging with only 74 blogs. Over the past 15 months, those numbers have doubled. It looks like Kevin is single-handedly responsible for the growth with 79% of the firm branded blogs using Kevin’s Lexblog platform.

LexMonitor – Aggregating Legal Blogs

There is a new legal blog aggregator: LexMonitor.com. It was set up by LexBlog, the purveyor of legal blogs. As they describe LexMontor:

LexMonitor is a free daily review of law blogs and journals highlighting prominent legal discussion and the lawyers and other professionals participating in this conversation.

Pulling from nearly 2,000 sources and 5,000 professional authors, LexMonitor will shine a light on the ongoing conversation among thought leaders in the law for the benefit of the legal profession and the public at large.

The great aspect of this site is it’s power as a research tool. I ran a search for “Massachusetts Easements” and up come two blog posts on the topic. One was my post: You Can Construct a Sewer Line In Your Private Right of Way. I was testing to see if it would pull up a post from Friday.

This a great tool from Kevin O’Keefe of Real Lawyers Have Blogs and his team.

Real Judges Have Blogs

Today’s Boston Globe has a Page One article on US district Court Judge Nancy Gertner and her blogging activities: Off the Bench, Judge Blogs Her Mind.

To those of you who read Robert Ambrogi’s Law Sites, you have already heard this story about Slate.com’s Convictions Blog. I was surprised to see the Globe put it on the front page.

[Gertner, whom President Clinton nominated to the bench in 1993, has long written on legal matters in law journals and newspaper op-ed pages.

For the past nine years, she has also taught two courses on sentencing, one a semester, at Yale Law School, her alma mater, where she shares her insights in her characteristically chatty manner. So blogging, she says, is not a radical departure.

“I saw this as the new media version of what I’ve always been doing,” the former criminal defense lawyer said recently at her office at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse. “If this is where people are getting information, this is where we have to be.”]

Judge Gertner has written four posts so far. She joins Judge Richard Posner, Judge on United States Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals as a blogging federal judge. Judge Posner blogs on The Becker-Posner Blog.

Is anyone else aware of other judges who blog?

Blogging in SharePoint 2007

The Firm has taken its first steps into Enterprise 2.0. Using SharePoint’s blog platform we launched our first blog today. Mark Puzella, David Hosp and Robert O’Connell started their Trademark, Copyright and Trade Secrets Blog.


They put up four posts the first day and a had handful of comments. (The comments were mostly the authors trying out the comments feature on the blog.)

In early April, we upgraded our intranet to SharePoint 2007. The blog feature works great in SharePoint. Certainly you can’t add on the numerous widgets and other tools that you could with WordPress or Blogger. You can add categories to the posts. At first we thought you were limited to one category per post, but quickly found the setting to allow multiple categories per post.

Most of our planned uses for blogs are targeted at hosting firm announcements. It was great to have lawyers dive in and want a real law blog. I hope the Trademark, Copyright and Trade Secrets Blog will be a beacon showing other lawyers the power of blogging inside the enterprise. This may also lead to some external blogs.

State of the AmLaw 200 blogosphere

Kevin O’Keefe of Lex Blog has but together his latest status report on big law firms that blog: State of the AmLaw 200 blogosphere, March 2008. Kevin includes a list of the firms and list of the blogs.

Since August of 2007 the number of AmLaw 200 firms with blogs has increased from 39 to 53. Since many of the firms have multiple blogs, the number of blogs has increased from74 to 110. That is great growth

Why Are Legal Blogs Undervalued?

Over at the Drug and Device Law Blog one of the authors stirred the pot by posting: Why Are Blogs Undervalued? The post got picked up by the WSJ.com Law Blog: Law-Firm Blogs: Marketing Device or Mere Diversion? Since, the Drug and Device Law blog called him out, Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith, Esq. also chimed in: The Marketing Value of Publishing: 1440 to 2008.

The first thing to think about with a blog is how is it different from the other publications from your firm.

Is a legal blog really all that different than the client alerts and updates sent out by law firms? At the core, there is no difference. Information is just published to a website, rather than producing a pdf file and sending it out by email. With a blog the information is generally sent out by RSS feed, but can be sent by email. As of this morning, 15% of my subscribers get my feed by email rather than RSS.

A blog allows easier publishing. If I find an interesting case or story, I can have a post up in minutes. The client alerts do not match that speed. Most publications do not match that speed.

I do not agree with Mr. Hermann’s fourth proposition that blogging is too much work for too little financial reward. It is nearly impossible for most big laws to justify that any particular marketing effort leads directly to new work (with the exception of an explicit client pitch). I never hear anyone saying that should not produce client alerts or substantive articles for public consumption because they do not generate enough business. Clients of big law firms expect to receive regular updates of changes in the law that affect their business.

Blogging, like any marketing or networking activity is about building your brand. With lawyers and other professionals that means showing your expertise, engaging in conversations about your expertise and publishing your expertise. Blogs allow all of these. And certainly do a better job than most firm’s rather static websites. Over at the Drug and Device Law, they measured 25,00o page views per month on their blog. They call that a “drop in the bucket.” But I would guess that number rivals the page views than their law firm website gets. And that is with zero assistance from their IT departments or marketing departments and zero out-of-pocket costs.

All of the dangers that people express are there because people can find the content. Blog posts get indexed by search engines and the linking and and cross-linking are the magic ingredients that makes your blog rise up in the search results ranking. People can find the bad content. But they can also find the good content. All that good content rises up and enhances your brand.

Lifestream – Aggregating Youself

As social media is spreading and as I am using more social media tools, I find that the information about me is being spread across more and more sites. Of course one of of the great things about most “2.0 tools” is that they allow you to easily manipulate the information.
I created a lifestream using Yahoo Pipes:
http://pipes.yahoo.com/dougcornelius/lifestream

Shortly after putting that together I ran into Friend Feed:
http://friendfeed.com/dougcornelius

I am recombining the feeds from several sites into one more comprehensive stream. Anyone who is interested can see a large swath of what I am writing about, what I am doing and what I am thinking about.

Now translate this to a use inside the enterprise. It is possible to pull disparate communication and authorship from a particular person and display that information in one place inside the enterprise. You can combine someone’s internal blog, external blog, internal postings, internal tagging, external tagging and other sources and create a dynamic profile of that person. If you then store that “story” as it grows, you are creating a searchable repository of experience, expertise and interest for that person.

Currently, my friendfeed and lifestream are both pulling together information I add from:

Of course, like any good “2.0” tool, my friendfeed and lifestream each have a separate RSS feed that you can subscribe to or easily publish.

Blogging at Sun Microsystems

As a blogging lawyer, I tend to keep an eye on Mike Dillon. Mike is the general counsel of Sun Microsystems and writes a blog: The Legal Thing.

Mike was interviewed by Real Lawyers Have Blogs. A few things caught my eye in the interview.

One, Sun has between 3,000 and 4,000 employees blogging externally, including their CEO. As of this morning, they had 4039 blogs, with over 94,000 entries and over 96,000 comments. They leverage these blogs in one platform so you can search across all of this blog posts: http://blogs.sun.com. I ran a search for “knowledge management” and got over 8,000 results back. This robust collection of blogs is a tremendous knowledge resource. It seems like a great way for the company’s employees to stay connected and for the customers of the company to be connected with the company.

The second was his take on in-house lawyers blogging:

“It’s surprising to me that more GCs don’t blog. But, I think there are two factors behind this. First, attorneys are by trade somewhat conservative and risk adverse (I still remember attending legal seminars in the 1980s about the terrible risks associated with a new type of communication called “email”). Consequently, I think many of us focus more on the risks of divulging confidential information or violating the attorney-client privilege; risks that while possible are more than offset by the value of a blog.

The second issue is generational. I doubt that few GCs of large public companies today grew up using wikis, social networking, mash-ups, virtual communities or blogs. The current generation of law students cannot imagine life without them. They understand the incredibly rich and powerful benefit of these knowledge sharing and communications tools. And, they doubtlessly will apply them in their legal practices as they become GCs in the future.”

Third, I discovered that Sun has collection of blog postings from Sun’s alumni. I particularly noticed their legal disclaimer:

“The individuals who post here are part of the extended Sun Microsystems community and they may not be employed or in any way formally affiliated with Sun Microsystems. The opinions expressed here are their own, are not necessarily reviewed in advance by anyone but the individual authors, and neither Sun nor any other party necessarily agrees with them. This site aggregates content posted on third-party sites. The content posted here may be hosted at third party sites in no way affiliated with Sun.”

Obviously, Sun’s adoption of blogging comes from Sun’s open corporate culture and focus on building communities. In the process they are building a rich knowledge repository that can be leveraged by their employees and customers.

Are Lawyers Blogging? – Yes they Are!

Lawyers are blogging. Kevin O’Keefe of Real Lawyers Have Blogs noted an article in the Financial Post: Blogging Can Be Useful As a Low-cost Public Relations and Marketing Tool. They cite an American Express Survey that 5% of businesses with 100 or fewer employees have blogs.

Kevin goes on to note that law firms adoption of blogs are on pace with other businesses. With “40,000 small law firms and 2,000 lawyer blogs, our profession is right on pace.” Kevin also noted that 39 of the AmLaw 200 firms have blogs: State of the AmLaw 200 Blogosphere, August 2007.

Over at my Real Estate Space blog, I compiled a list of 39 blogs that originate from Massachusetts based lawyers: Massachusetts Blawgs.

I have found that law firms (including my firm) are unsure how to deal with blogs. There is a lot of concern about how blogs amplify bad content and make it easy to find that bad content. They are rightfully concerned about preventing the release of confidential client information, inadvertently creating attorney-client relationship, stating positions that are adverse to clients and attorney advertising restrictions.

I think the mistake is thinking that blogs only amplify bad content. They amplify all content. Good content rises to the top as well. I ran an example of a Google search for “bad boy guaranty” (that’s a commercial real estate finance term). My blog posts on bad boy guarantees at Real Estate Space appeared on the top of the search results. Similarly, a Google search for “Interwoven Express Search” pulls up my posts on Interwoven’s new search tool in the top position. (Ahead of Interwoven’s website.)

Those results do not come from implementing expensive websites and SEO campaigns. (My blogs run on free blog hosting services, with no support from my marketing department or IT department.) The results come from writing content. If you are not writing content, people are not finding you. Some people may not like what you have to say and some people love what you have to say. You can’t please everyone. But you will not please anyone if you remain silent. Blogs are about having that conversation. Lawyers should join the conversation.

Massachusetts Blawgs

I decided to poke around and try to list as many Massachusetts based legal blogs as I could find. Here is the list. Sorry if I missed any. Send me the links and I will update this list.

Boston Criminal Lawyer Blog

Covers topics such as felonies, violent crime, assault and battery, drug offenses, and wrongful convictions.
Published by Altman & Altman LLP.
http://www.bostoncriminallawyerblog.com/

Boston Employment Lawyer Blog
Information on age discrimination, employment contracts, hostile work environments and other employment law topics.
Published by Conforto Law Group
http://www.bostonemploymentlawyerblog.com/

Boston ERISA & Insurance Litigation Blog
Covers ERISA, insurance coverage, and insurance bad faith.
Published by Stephen Rosenberg of The McCormack Firm, LLC.
http://www.bostonerisalaw.com/


Boston Immigration & Nationality Blog

Serving immigrants in the Boston and Framingham metro areas
Published by Joshua Daley Paulin
http://bostonimmigrationblog.com/

Boston Injury Lawyer Blog
Discusses topics such as boating, car, motorcycle, and pedestrian accidents.
Published by Altman & Altman LLP.
http://www.bostoninjurylawyerblog.com/

Caselines
This blog addresses topics in litigation knowledge management such as internal expertise identification, collaborative software for lawyers, search methods for lawyers, the convergence of ediscovery and enterprise search, and more.
Published by David Hobbie of Goodwin Procter LLP
http://caselines.blogspot.com/

Cogito Ergo Teneo; an intellectual property blawg
A blawg dedicated to reporting on recent U.S. copyright, trademark, and trade secret law, as well as any other interesting intellectual property news.
Published by Sean FWJ Fowler, general counsel for a technology company in Marlborough, MA.
http://cogitoergoteneo.blogspot.com/

CorpCollblog
The online home and blog of the Law Office of Woodworth & Frisella. They specialize in handling commercial collection matters for all kinds of business with a particular emphasis on software companies.
http://corporatecollections.com/

Eon
The blog of Professor Charles Nesson of the Harvard Law School
http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/nesson/

Erik J. Heels
Erik J. Heels is an MIT engineer, patent and trademark lawyer, Red Sox fan, and music lover. This is his blog about Technology, Law, Baseball, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.
http://www.erikjheels.com/

Et Seq.
The Harvard Law School Library Blog
http://etseq.law.harvard.edu/index.php

HealthBlawg
New developments in health care law and policy together with the observations and analysis of David Harlow, of The Harlow Group LLC, a health care law and consulting firm in Newton.
http://healthblawg.typepad.com/healthblawg/


Home Contractor vs. Homeowner

Addresses contractor and homeowner disputes.
Published by Andrea Goldman
http://andreagoldmanlaw.blogspot.com/

John Palfrey
As Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Executive Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, John’s work focuses on Internet law, intellectual property, and the potential of new technologies to strengthen democracies locally and around the world.
http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/palfrey/

KM Space
The Law Firm Knowledge Management Blog, with postings on knowledge management, enterprise 2.0, legal technology and the practice of law
Published by Doug Cornelius
http://kmspace.blogspot.com/

Law For Life
Estate planning, asset protection, elder law, probate, reverse mortgages and real estate
Published by Gosselin & Associates, P.C.
http://blog.lawforlife.com/

Law Links | Health Links
Connecting legal, health and marketing resources with a New England focus, by Amy Campbell of Infoworks! Amy also publishes Amy Campbell’s Weblog, thinking about new media, web marketing and law firm marketing.
http://lawlinkshealthlinks.blogspot.com/


Massachusetts Campaign for Open Government

Karla J. de Steuben created the Massachusetts Campaign For Open Government website after she was told by a Massachusetts town official that she could not have a copy of a public record she requested because it would only confuse her.
http://maopengov.org/blog.html

Massachusetts Consumer Rights
News on consumer rights issues in Massachusetts by Attorney Kenneth D. Quat.
(The posts on this blog are very sporadic)
http://massachusettsconsumer.blogspot.com/

Massachusetts Divorce & Family Law Blog
Boston area attorney Steven Ballard discusses recent developments in divorce & family law.
http://massachusettsfamilylaw.blogspot.com/

Massachusetts Driving Law
Information on Speeding Tickets, Drunk Driving, OUI, DUI, Moving Violations, Citations, Insurance Surcharges, License Suspensions, Registry of Motor Vehicle Hearings, RMV issues, Clerk’s Hearings, Junior Operators, Hardship Licenses, Revoked Licenses, Ignition Locks, Criminal Complaints, Criminal Charges and other driving related issues for Massachusetts Residents.
Published by Jessica A. Foley
http://massdrivinglaw.typepad.com/

Massachusetts DUI Podcast – MA Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer
Massachusetts DUI Attorney Russell Matson’s Podcast
http://www.madrunkdrivingdefense.com/podcast/dui-podcast.html

Massachusetts Law Updates
From the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries
http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/whatsnew.html

Massachusetts Personal Injury Blog
Information For Those Injured in Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Slips and Falls, Dog Bites, Massachusetts Medical Malpractice and other Accidents, by Boston Personal Injury Attorney Christopher F. Earley.
http://christopherfearley.typepad.com/massachusetts_personal_in/

Massachusetts Estate Planning and Elder Law
Information, resources and commentary about estate planning, elder law, MassHealth/Medicaid, care-giving, family matters and growing older in Massachusetts by Leanna Hamill, Attorney at Law. Hingham.
http://lhamillattorney.typepad.com/main/

MassLawBlog.Com
This site focuses on Lee Gesmer‘s practice areas: IP, business law, Internet law, antitrust and practice in the Massachusetts state and federal courts.
http://www.masslawblog.com

Media Law
A blog about freedom of the press
Published by Robert J. Ambrogi
http://www.legaline.com/medialaw.html

MediationChannel.com
Mediation can challenge people to see things differently, bringing new insight and and greater understanding of themselves, each other, and the underlying conflict. That’s the aim behind this blog — to invite you to see things anew.
Published by Greater Boston attorney and mediator Diane Levin
http://mediationchannel.com/

Medical Malpractice Law News
All the medical malpractice news and resources that are fit to click
(Posted anonymously)
http://medicalmalpracticelaw.blogspot.com/

OpenSourceLegal.org
This Website is intended to serve as a current reference for legal issues related to the use of open source software, especially software licensed under the GNU public license, such as Linux.
The Website is currently maintained by Peter Moldave, a partner at Gesmer Updegrove LLP
http://www.opensourcelegal.org/


Out of the Jungle
Thoughts on the present and future of legal information, legal research, and legal education.
http://outofthejungle.blogspot.com/

Patricia Bloom-McDonald, Attorney at law
Information on elder law and estate planning
http://mcbloomlaw.blogspot.com/

Real Estate Space
The Commercial Real Estate Finance Law Blog, with notes on real estate law and the real estate business from a Massachusetts lawyer
Doug Cornelius.
http://realestatespace.blogspot.com/

Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites
Tracking new and intriguing Web sites for the legal profession.
Published by Robert J. Ambrogi
http://www.legaline.com/lawsites.html

Standards Blog
Examines how standards are developed, and their impact on business, society, the world, and the future.
Published by Andy Updegrove of Gesmeer Updegrove LLP
http://www.consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/

Suffolk Law Library Blog
The blog of the Suffolk Law Library
http://suffolklawlibrary.blogspot.com/index.html

The E-Legal Lawyer
Covers small business, cyber law and employment law issues.
Published by Michael Goldstein.
http://www.goldsteinandclegglaw.com/blog

The TTABlog
Keeping tabs on the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Published by John L. Welch of Lowrie, Lando & Anastasi, LLP
http://thettablog.blogspot.com/

Velvel on National Affairs
This progressive blog sets forth the personal views of the Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law on national events. Occasionally, the responses to his views or other interesting articles are also posted.
Published by Lawrence R. Velvel
http://velvelonnationalaffairs.blogspot.com/

Blogging Lessons Learned from a Curmudgeon Turned Blawger

Mark Herrman, author of The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law, wrote a piece in The National Law Journal: Blogging Lessons Learned. It turns out he is also co-author of the Drug and Device Law Blog.

Here are his four lessons from legal blogging and my thoughts.

1. “Blogging about substantive legal issues is hard.” A blogger must regularly post fresh content about interesting issues. There is not always interesting legal content on the subject of your legal blog. Often times I will read a case that sounds interesting for my Real Estate Space blog, only to find out the case lacks much meaning.

2. “Blogging is personally satisfying.” Every blog post is a snapshot of an idea that I can easily retrieve. Even if nobody reads the blog post except me, I have created a resource for me. Of course it is great to see others referring to your article. [You like me. You really, really like me.] Even better is getting comments and criticism to help craft and fine tune my thinking.

3. “Law firms, like law schools, are clueless about how to value blogs.” Most law firms are not sure whether to encourage lawyers to write blogs or to forbid them? Should they sponsor blogs (to claim credit) or disavow them (to avoid risk)?

4. “Blogging pays off. It pays off in part by being a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Whether or not you know anything about the topics you cover in your blog, you appear to be an expert in that field. You can hold yourself out there as an expert. But unless people hear what you have to say (or read what you have written), they are not going to buy into your expertise. Also by blogging, I force myself to think about my subject for at least a few minutes a day. Blogging forces me step out of my workflow and “think” rather than just “do.”

Why Every Client Should Want an Attorney Who Blawgs

Teri G. Rasmussen of the Ohio Practical Business Law Counsel has a great post on Why Every Client Should Want an Attorney Who Blawgs.

Teri point out that her blawg gets twice as many hits as the website for her 30 person law firm.

Teri’s reasons why lawyers should blog:

  1. Knowledge Entreprenuer.
  2. Communication 101.
  3. Authenticity and “Real Voice”.
  4. Quality and Competence.
  5. Commitment to “the Law” Made Practical.

Thanks to Kevin O’Keefe of Real Lawyers Have Blogs for pointing this one out.

Cross-posted from my KM Space blog on law firm knowledge management

Why Blog? – Why Every Client Should Want an Attorney Who Blawgs

Teri G. Rasmussen of the Ohio Practical Business Law Counsel has a great post on Why Every Client Should Want an Attorney Who Blawgs.

Teri point out that her blawg gets twice as many hits as the website for her 30 person law firm.

This blog only generates about 15% as many site visits as my firm’s website. Of course my firm does have 850+ lawyers, dozens of marketing professionals and a professionally designed website. I just have me. Considering the resources on each side of the equation, I think my numbers are staggeringly high.

Teri’s reasons why lawyers should blog:

  1. Knowledge Entreprenuer.
  2. Communication 101.
  3. Authenticity and “Real Voice”.
  4. Quality and Competence.
  5. Commitment to “the Law” Made Practical.

Thanks to Kevin O’Keefe of Real Lawyers Have Blogs for pointing this one out.

CLawBies

It is award season. After Dennis Kennedy honored me with a Blawggie, our friends up North handed me a CLawBie. Steve Matthews put together the Canadian law blog awards.

Jason Eiseman and I are co-winners of the “Friends of the North Award” for reading, commenting and linking to Canadian law blogs.

Toronto has a great law firm knowledge management community that I have enjoyed meeting with in person. I equally enjoy reading what they have to say on their blogs.

Blawggies Award

Dennis Kennedy put up his annual tradition of The 2007 Blawggies: Dennis Kennedy’s Best Law-related Blogging Awards.

KM Space got the award for best new Best New Law-related Blog.

Really, it was an honor just to be nominated. But, I put together a short acceptance speech. I wanted to thank my wife for putting up with me and my children for still thinking I am cool. I want to thank Trudy Ernst, the Director of Knowledge Management, for encouraging me to keep it going. I want to thank the Marketing Department for not stopping me from blogging. I want to thank David Hobbie, of Caselines, for listening to my ramblings about blogging.

(The orchestra begins playing.)

I want to thank Dennis Kennedy and Kevin O’Keefe for their insight into blogging and lawyers in social media. I want to thank . . .

(And we go to commercial.)

Law Firm Blog Policy – Points to Consider

Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog Blog put together a great of list of points to consider as part of a law firm blog policy: Law firm blog policy : Points to consider.

With “blawgs” the big issue to consider is the ethical limitations imposed on lawyer expression. Most states have vague policies on blogs, whether they constitute advertising and the implications of getting unsolicited information from clients and parties adverse to your clients.

Kevin is a great evangelist for lawyers blogging. I drank his Kool-Aid and created my own legal blog: Real Estate Space [http://realestatespace.blogspot.com].