Socially Aware has seen a lot of success in its years. But if you ask the editors they say all that hard work was worth it for the connections they’ve formed.

Of course that means public connections. With the blog, Morrison Foerster has carved out a niche—social media and emerging technologies—that allows them to put the full creativity and passion of their attorneys front and center, which is attractive for clients, journalists, and other people not in the legal industry.

“It’s almost always the case you go into a company, and before you walk in the door they say ‘we’re fans of the blog,’” said co-editor and partner at the firm Aaron Rubin. “It acts as a force multiplier.”

As if that’s not a good enough sentiment to be met with it’s clearly not a unique experience. Rubin says they routinely get client work, cold calls from journalists looking for a quote, or magazines in the legal field who are looking to republish or expand stuff from the blog.

But Rubin and his co-editor John Delaney say one of the best things is the interpersonal connections they’ve made from the blog. Though the sidebar on the blog boasts a couple dozen contributors, the actual number of people from the firm who’ve chipped in at one point or another is closer to 100. Working with that many people, across a number of subject areas, has helped them foster a camaraderie with co-workers throughout the firm.  

“Aaron and I get to email and talk to each other several times a week…Through the blog we get to work with lawyers in the firm we haven’t had an opportunity to work in our day-to-day practice. It’s been a great tool for getting to better know our colleagues and what they do,” said Delaney, who’s also a partner at the firm. “Successful blogs take on a little bit of the personality of the lawyers in the firm, and Morrison Foerster has always been very collaborative and community oriented.”

John Delaney
John Delaney

And even that sense of community isn’t cagey; they love meeting law teachers and other bloggers at other firms because they all share the same interests. It’s all part of the passion that started them down the blogging path six years ago, once they realized there was a dearth of information for clients of theirs to turn to for guidance on emerging technologies.

“New technologies arise and they create a lot of business opportunities, but also a lot of legal issues. Our clients—and all companies—can’t sit around and wait until the law becomes clear; they need to build a business and grow a business,” said Delaney, one of the two lawyers who started the blog. “As technology lawyers, we were receiving a lot of calls from clients asking about LinkedIn, or how Facebook works; what to worry about. And one of the things in social media is that there are still a lot of legal issues we deal with everyday that aren’t clear…And we were kind of disappointed that there was a growing blogging community around the business side of social media—tips for marketing, and such—but there wasn’t anything similar on the legal side.”

And so, a newsletter was born. Then, when the newsletter became quite popular, the firm green lit the blog a move Delaney and Rubin agree makes more sense.

“It’s a little absurd to have just the newsletter about social media, like dancing about architecture,” said Delaney. “Running a blog gives us real insights into the business side of using social media. A lot of lawyers advise clients in a vacuum, in the abstract terms of clients’ underlying business challenges. But in the social media space, our clients challenges are our own.”

And it helps that work they do is so accessible. Part of the work Delaney and Rubin are always in the thick of is editing everything that’s going to be posted to the blog, making sure it follows their standards. The goal has always been for Socially Aware to be more like the fun journalistic writing you read on the weekend that presents serious thinking without the pretentious style associated with legal writing—which means no footnotes.

“We look at the blog as it’s serious, and it addresses real legal issues. But our writing style has humor to it; it’s not stodgy, and not a legalistic kind of writing. And we find that makes it appealing to not only other lawyers but to the business and marketing sides of companies,” said Rubin.

Aaron Rubin
Aaron Rubin

That thinking isn’t limited to the blog. Rubin and Delaney are aware of what a moving target social media law has been (and seems to continue being). Running the blog keeps them on top of the issues in their area (in order to “feed the beast that wants three articles a week,” said Delaney) and keeps them wading through the wealth of news coming their way and finding the right content for their readers.

In the beginning that meant clearly legal related. But Rubin notes that the scope of social media has evolved, and encompasses more things than it did back in 2011.

“We’re constantly having internal analysis. Some things are clearly legal related, but what about the business of social media, or the culture of social media? We don’t want to go too far in that direction and dilute what we do,” said Rubin. “Is it something that’s already going to get covered in the non-legal media? Is it something we can have a unique perspective on?”

These are core questions that many legal bloggers ask themselves as they put their fingers to their keyboards. But combined with the Socially Aware team’s inventive enthusiasm, the blog seems to be unstoppable.

Their unique perspective has lead them to experiment with their platform, taking forays into business commentating and (very successful) infographics. It’s clearly lead to productive meetings, both within and outside the firm. But best of all, Rubin, Delaney, and the team enjoy it.

“We’re in the middle of this amazing transformation of society. Every year there’s more disruption, there’s greater and greater leas in the IT and digital space. That’s our beat. That’s what we cover,” said Delaney. “With the topics we’re covering there’s a real focus on what the emerging best practices are…At the end of the day one of the things we’re really proud of is that the blog has given us a public voice in helping to shape what the emerging best practices should be.”