Earlier this week, LexBlog shared a press release announcing that the network would be opening its network up to all legal bloggers. At the 2018 Legal Marketing Association annual conference in New Orleans, Kevin O’Keefe, the CEO of LexBlog, and Bob Ambrogi, the Editor-in-Chief, sat down to discuss the announcement, and to answer some questions about their vision of making LexBlog the largest legal news distribution network on the planet.
Kevin O’Keefe: I’m here with Bob Ambrogi in New Orleans. We’re just wrapping up the Legal Marketing Association Conference. Bob, your head’s down pretty low right now. Maybe we can tilt this up a little bit, so you can see us- we don’t have David running the camera for us as we probably should, and I haven’t mastered this. The biggest thing we did here was we announced we were opening the network, so we’d go live. What does that mean to you? You did the formal announcement on Monday morning.
Bob Ambrogi: Did you say where we are? You said we’re in New Orleans, but we’re here for the annual meeting of the legal marketing association. What we announced this week is that we’re opening up the LexBlog network to any blogger that wants to be part of it. We’re getting photobombed by Heather Morse right now, hey Heather. So what we announced is that we’re opening up the LexBlog network to any blogger that wants to be part of it. So whether or not you’re a customer at LexBlog, it doesn’t matter. If you’re a lawyer or a legal professional blogging and you want to be included in what we’re putting out. Just go to LexBlog.com/join, fill out the information, give us your RSS feed, and we’ll make you part of it.
Kevin O’Keefe: What’s the long-term vision mission by opening it up? I mean, how did that all come about?
Bob Ambrogi: The long-term vision is that we want to create the ultimate, leading legal news and commentary network based on blogs. We were talking about this earlier, because we actually originally started talking about doing this idea of building around the blogs that are on the LexBlog network. But then we thought there were so many important, valuable blogs out there that aren’t necessarily LexBlog customers and part of the LexBlog platform. And if we want to really create a news and information network that’s going to be useful for all lawyers in all kinds of practices, in all locations, then we may have to be inclusive of everybody. So that’s really the goal, to make this representative of all of the voices out there in the legal community.
Kevin O’Keefe: Yeah, and you really don’t know what you’re getting into when you get started. So this was a maybe 10 days ago, we talked internally about, whether we could do a press release announcing that we would open up the LexBlog network to other firms. We’re going to New Orleans, so let’s put together a press release announcing what we’re doing with the philosophy from you, as editor-in-chief and publisher, that goes out on Monday morning when you blogged it. I sent emails to leading law firms that do a lot of publishing that happened to have professionals here, from chief marketing officers through business development directors and whatnot. Asking if they wanted to get together and before I left Seattle people were already tweeting about your blog post.
Bob Ambrogi: I was getting great reception from it, so I was really glad to see that people are excited about it. We had a lot of people respond this week, and sign up already – lot of leading bloggers are adding their voices to this network that we’re going to be rolling out there.
Kevin O’Keefe: The other thing that was fun was sitting down with these firms, elite firms that we have as customers already for license software, but now the other firms want to get on the platform, and the reasons varied from greater visibility for the lawyers to ‘gee, it’d be an impetus for our lawyers to continue to blog well’ because they’d be in a publication. The questions we got were all over the board. Like, how does this differ from a distribution? You got that question a lot. How did you answer that?
Bob Ambrogi: Well, I mean I’m not going to name names, but a lot of people would ask, ‘how do you differ from, say, a JD Supra, or other sources. They’re all very good companies, very valuable companies, but the biggest difference is that there is no pay-to-play a aspect here. Your blog can be part of what we’re doing without you having to pay us a penny. If you’re a lawyer out there, you’re going to be able to read all this stuff without having to take out a subscription, it’s not going to go behind a paywall at some point. All of this, ultimately, is going to be a free distribution network for blog content throughout the world.
Kevin O’Keefe: And people asked, how do you make any money? We have a business by licensing software. But what was refreshing about it was to realize there’s a role for LexBlog, because we believe so much in how law blogs may represent the most vibrant legal commentary on the net, and so LexBlog has a role to fill in highlighting that
Bob Ambrogi: And not just the most vibrant, the other key thing is often blogs are the only source reporting what’s going on right now. I keep using the analogy of when a new case comes down, and often a blogger is going to be the first one writing about the case, then day two you’re going to have several bloggers writing commentary and analysis about that case. And what we want to do is pull that all together in a way that makes it easily accessible and really useful, and that highlights the bloggers who are writing about this stuff. It makes it useful for the readers, who need that content, who need to know about that stuff.
Kevin O’Keefe: So we came here with a range from a 100 to 200 posts a day. My guess is by the time that the content is loaded from the firms that wanted to proceed, that’s going to jump to somewhere between 200 and 300 posts a day. And if I had a guess, I think you’re going to see 600, 700 posts a day by the end of the year, which is a staggering amount of legal content. That puts the onus on us now, to begin to go to work. But I that was a great conference. When was the last time you were at a Legal Marketing Association conference?
Bob Ambrogi: I haven’t been to an LMA conference in a number of years. I used to come to this conference quite a bit, but this is my first one in a number of years. Really good conference: interesting discussions, interesting people here. Since I tend to personally focus so much on the legal tech side of it, it’s fun to get out and hear what these folks are talking about, and thinking about it. And they’re thinking about blogging, interestingly. It was interesting how many conversations we’ve had with people who are rethinking their blogs, in a positive way. Re-launching them, re-focusing on them, re-developing them, launching new blogs. There’s a lot going on with regard to blogs, and we’re talking to more of the larger firms sector at this conference. A lot going on.
Kevin O’Keefe: Yeah, very matter of fact about their importance. At the same time they might be spending literally half a million to a million dollars on websites and things that are important to the current place, and they’re placing great importance on the blogging that the lawyers want to do and how that fits into the picture of everything they’re doing. Another large thing that happened here was that we got t shirts. Mine was still wet because I washed it from yesterday, but Bob has the official L – he’s wearing the Superman L on his chest. Greg Lambert, who publishes at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog wants the LexBlog L for Lambert.
Bob Ambrogi: And we just moved their blog over to the LexBlog platform.
Kevin O’Keefe: Which is also exciting, bringing on rock star bloggers. Nike went out and got athletes to wear their shoes, this will not be as highly viewed, but going and getting rockstar bloggers, that was pretty sweet.
Bob Ambrogi: Pretty soon you’re going to want to add me to your platform.
Kevin O’Keefe: We’re working on that! Aimee’s in Seattle right now, going through the migration of a lot of content and probably seeing the errors that are coming up in the system. So maybe next Friday? Maybe I’ll fly out to Boston and hand it to you. But yeah, thank you very much for coming this time. It was great.