Connecticut is small. But the Connecticut Employment Law Blog makes every development feel like a big present.
As we continue our celebration of the LexBlog Network members and the Blawg 100’s 10th anniversary, we chatted with Shipman & Goodwin‘s Daniel Schwartz—who got inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013—about how he makes his site so indispensable.
How do you keep yourself relevant?
Hard to believe it’s been 9 years since I started the blog. Somehow, over that time, I became the go-to person among some (and certainly not all) lawyers and human resources professionals on all things employment law in Connecticut. Having inserted myself in that discussion, I’ve tried to add value where I can.
I’ve always tried to zig where others zag. It’s certainly easier to follow a crowd, but I really try to stay relevant by writing on what other people AREN’T writing on. After all, who needs to read a post on a new decision that 10 other people have already written about.
But in doing so, I’ve stepped off the train of trying to be “first” in discussing a case. My practice is as busy as ever and I just can’t put that pressure on myself anymore. Instead, I’m trying to be the voice that people want to hear from. That, I think, keeps me relevant to the practice.
What are the challenges of blogging for so long?
2016 was really the first year where I started to branch out from the blog a bit and the blog became a little bit of a chore. The posts were starting to feel repetitive at times and in trying to stay fresh, I really resisted the urge to just go on auto-pilot. At the same time, I’m also conscious about giving others at my law firm a practice for them to grow as well. But it turns out that not everyone has the same motivation to write as I do. Trying to find a balance of posts by myself and others, while keeping the blog fresh has been a challenge this year.
The other big challenge is that there are more law firms blogging and more platforms than ever to share information. Why blog when you can tweet or put up a post on LinkedIn? Add to that a law practice that is bustling and you’ve got a lot of things to juggle.
But it turns out that blogging that long gives you some perspective too. I realized that whether I posted twice a week or four times a week didn’t really matter. So I started really focusing on substance and not just posting something every day. That too has made the blog still feel fresh.
Do you have advice to bloggers starting out?
I’d ask: Do you like to write? Do you like to write a lot? If not, find something else besides a blog to do because it will become a chore. There are so many platforms available for attorneys to separate themselves out. Maybe do some Facebook Live sessions. Or do a Google Hangout. Or a podcast. Make sure that a blog is the thing for you because I’ve seen too many blogs peter out after a few months because the blog has become a chore to the attorney.
What does success look like to you; what makes a post feel great?
Last week, I was invited to participate in a panel discussion by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, a key state agency in my practice — the state equivalent to the EEOC. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity but for the blog. Then, during that discussion, another panelist brought up a post I had written about the agency. Still others in the audience mentioned that they were faithful readers. To me, that was extremely gratifying to be part of the conversation about the topics I had raised about the agency. It means we can be part of solutions for clients and that you are thought of favorably by your peers. That type of professional recognition is among the most satisfying of my career.
What has made you a successful writer and helped you get to the point where you are?
I think it too a while, but I finally found a “voice” in my head that I could translate into blog posts. What do I mean by that? It means it was the point at which I stopped writing like a classically trained lawyer, and started talking like I was talking to my neighbor. That has made the posts more interesting and has improved my writing outside the blog as well. I became more comfortable with the tone I was taking and threw out the “wherein” or other legalese that can creep into our writing. It gave me a platform to practice my writing several times a week.
The other key is that I stopped writing for others and started writing for myself. I started writing on things that I was more passionate about and stopped writing on topics that I didn’t really care about either. I think passion is really important on a blog; if you care about it, it’ll show and vice versa.