Richard Beem just got back from vacation, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t thinking about his work.
During his travels, Beem makes a point to meet with people from his law groups around the world. The trips can still be mainly about vacation, but Beem finds those meetings can teach him a lot about the work he does.
“When I blog I look at things that are current, I look at new cases, new developments,” said Beem. “When I meet with people in their own country, I get to know them better, know their practice, and learn more about our practice. It gives me a much deeper feel for what the country’s really like, and learning what’s on people’s minds.”
Of course that’s not the only thing inspiring Beem’s blogging. The blog, Beem on Patents, has “no shortage of topics” to write about with all the new developments in his area, according to Beem. The blog also draws on his experience clerking at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, where he worked very closely with the Patent Office, as well as his decade of blogging experience.
Ten years ago it started, as it often does for lawyers, as mainly a way of getting his name out and keeping it out in front of people who might require his services. In his time since, it’s evolved as an outlet where he can really share his insight on the latest goings-on in the patent world.
“I don’t like boring, and I don’t think lawyers should be boring. I think an effective advocate is someone who can communicate with people on a personal level, as well as communicating in a way that’s technically correct,” said Beem.
“In patents you have technical areas of the law that are somewhat arcane, but you also have technology at the heart of most of our cases. It’s very easy to be boring. But the people who decide these cases are largely juries, who don’t have technical degrees. So the first thing I try to do is engage people.”
Consequently, Beem has been an early adopter of most social media, from Facebook to Twitter to Youtube, where he has made a number of video blogs (with some 70,000 views). It’s these networks that he feels he gets his best responses.
“On the blog, more often than not, most people don’t respond very much. I figure for every person who responds there’s probably another ten people who are reading it. But on Twitter I have about 3000 followers—far higher than the number of subscribers to the blog,” said Beem, who finds that it’s worth the bit of extra work to leverage his content across Twitter and LinkedIn.
“So even if they don’t go to the effort of subscribing there’s still a way for them to get to the content…I get comments, I get replies, I get retweets. The motto of Twitter is ‘join the conversation,’ and it’s true; and even with the very limited number of characters it can be effective. You can do a blog, explore and develop a subject more fully, and then tweet it and engage.”
But it’s not all fun and games. For Beem starting a blog post is a lot easier than finishing one, and often easier than keeping it short, practical, and understandable.
But even if he’s not the first to comment on a news item, Beem is always after ways that he can better share what he knows and learns with the community; whether through upgrading his blog responsive design to make it clearer for the mobile readers, or with his cohorts out in the real world.
“I had some very good discussions with a fellow leader in the intellectual property community; he was very interested in the subject I was blogging about and we got a good dialogue going. I encouraged him to post a comment, but I the side discussion might’ve been even better,” said Beem. “Blogging really engages people, and that conversation wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t published.”