Robin Shea is a great example of not just blogging best practices, but the “avoiding legalese” motto which her firm, Constangy, Brooks, and Smith LLP aspires to. It’s no wonder she’s made the ABA’s Blawg 100 three years in a row.
As we continue to interview each LexBlog Network member who made the Blawg 100 this year, Robin was kind enough to share some of the blogging acumen she displays on Employment & Labor Insider with us.
What discipline have you set up for yourself to help your blogging process?
My blogging minimum is one substantive post a week, published on Friday morning. I spend most of the week being on the lookout for one or more good topics. I try to leave the office as early as possible on Thursdays so that I can work at home Thursday afternoon and evening with a minimum of distraction. I usually write one substantive blog post and one or more “lighter” ones, gather the links and art, and polish as much as possible before going to bed on Thursday. On Friday, I get up very early, do a fresh read and edit (with coffee), and post. It makes for a pretty intense schedule on Thursday evenings-Friday mornings, but it works well for me, and it’s become a routine.
Which bloggers do you follow, who inspires you (legal or not)?
I have several favorite employment law/HR blogs, including (but not limited to) Dan Schwartz’s Connecticut Employment Law Blog, Jon Hyman’s Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, Bill Goren’s Understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act, Suzanne Lucas’s The Evil HR Lady, and Eric Meyer’s Employer Handbook. I also follow the commenters on Disqus who were booted off Above The Law (ATL Surrogate) and Ann Althouse, and Scott Greenfield’s Simple Justice. I also follow a lot of political blogs, but we don’t need to go there.
What has been your biggest obstacle to overcome in your blogging career?
I really haven’t had any. I love blogging. When I retire from my law firm (many years from now, I hope), I know I will start my own blog. Lyle Denniston (SCOTUSblog) is my role model, although I don’t expect to be able to sell my retirement blog to Bloomberg BNA.
Do you have a favorite post?
There are several that I enjoy re-reading, but I guess the all-time champion would be a post that I wrote in 2013, “Better Think Twice Before Suing Your Employer (four reasons why).” By law blog standards, the post got a huge response — mostly from employees who believed they were not being treated fairly at work. Of course, I couldn’t give them advice because I represent employers, but being able to hear from employees was great. When I finally closed down the comment section this year, we had received 534 comments. (DISCLAIMER: A lot of those were my responses to commenters.)
What has made you a successful writer and helped you get to the point where you are?
I worked at a newspaper before I went to law school. I think that experience gave me the right mentality to do this – I got used to deadlines, quick turnarounds, short paragraphs, catchy headlines, careful editing and proofreading, all of that stuff. I can write in a more formal, legalistic style when I need to, but I really prefer the “newsy” style. The other thing that has contributed to my success as a blogger has been the support of my law firm. If you have writing ability and a supportive law firm, you have just about everything.