Earlier this year I did a random blog post that just talked about legal blogging as if it was a book because I couldn’t find a book. Somebody had asked me, did I have a book? I said, “No.”
The first thing I did was I just came up with a list of what the chapters would be, what the topics you would have to cover in a blog. There happened to be 45 of them, which sounds pretty ridiculous. What’s more ridiculous is that I would even write a whole book that long. In any case, with the pandemic hitting, I’m seeing more and more lawyers come online, and I’m seeing more of them just reach out for random information and run with things. You feel bad about how people are struggling. When you can help, you want to help.
I’m going to begin for 45 days to talk about each one of the topics in the chapter, Legal Blogging. If people have questions, they can e-mail me, put them up on Twitter, put it in comments with Facebook. That’s fine as well. I’m wearing a Mets hat just to honor all the good people in New York City and particularly in Queens, which was probably the hardest hit borough, at least the hospitals that were understaffed. I was born in Flushing so that’s the reason for the Mets hat which is in Flushing.
The first chapter of the book is passion. You have to have passion about what you’re going to blog about. You can imagine, when I used to do every strategy call for the law firms, I used to say, “Let’s get out a magic wand and wave it. What would you like to do as far as work, and who would you like to do for? Just write it down on a piece of paper.”
I could only imagine having the partner heads for practice groups talking about, “Is this guy nuts? He’s told us to get out a magic wand. I thought he was helping us to do marketing for the firm.” That’s something I stuck with all the way, the magic wand. Who do you want to represent and on what topic? I think what lawyers have to think about is, “what were the things I really most enjoyed, maybe a little last year or two years?” I worked as a lawyer in a small firm, and I cut my teeth from having no book of business, and taking what the people that hired me gave me, which certainly opened my eyes to just a broad range of things before I could figure out what I really wanted to do, and feed the family at the same time.
If I was passionate about it, if that was trial work…as scared as I was to get in front of a jury, to make as many mistakes, beat the defense lawyers that had many more years of experience, never having tried cases before and having to try a case…that’s just what filled my life with the greatest thrill and excitement.
I think a blog has to be that same way. If you’re going to be successful with your blog, you’re going to have to blog what’s going to happen around the blog for the people that come to it. The similarly situated, or similarly passionate people about that topic, they’re going to have to be passionate about it. If you say, “I’m not passionate about anything,” then you got to say, “What could I get passionate about?”
Really, if you’re going to be a lawyer and say, “I’m sorry. I have no passion about anything in my life, so I’m just going to blog,” then good luck to you attracting any audience, or any potential clients, or any referral sources that think your worth anything. You’ve got to get passionate about something. This could be an area that you’re not even working in, and especially when we’re in this pandemic when everything has been turned upside down. That can be good for you too. How many times in an industry is everything going to get turned upside down, and there’s going to be a lot of people that used to be at the top are going to be the equals of people that weren’t at the top. Everybody’s going to get a chance as this thing sifts out not over just this year, but over the next two, three, and four years.
What are the opportunities? What could you get fired up about? What could you get fired up to be: the leader in your city, your state, the country on a particular topic? You could start working on something and blogging on it without ever having done that work before if that’s something you could be passionate about. You don’t have to burn the boats behind you, so to speak, and say, “I’m never going to do the type of work I’m doing right now, and begin to blog on something I could get passionate about.” You’ve got time to blog now. You just have to watch less Netflix and Hulu during the pandemic. You should be thinking about what areas of law that I’d like to learn, and this is all in passion.
What would I love to learn that I don’t know in the area of law today? What is that area that I would’ve loved to get after? You’re not going to have to travel across the world to go to conferences for this thing because there aren’t going to be any large conferences in law until probably the end of 2021, if not 2022. You can go virtually, and you could meet people at virtual conferences, and you can mentor behind them. That’s the desire to learn.
Then there’s the desire to give. Where can you give? When I interviewed Jeff Nowak who writes a blog on FMLA in Chicago in December and I said, “What got you into blogging? What makes you blog?” He goes, “My desire to help.” I said, “Come on. At some point in time, you must’ve said I’m doing this for business development, or to make a name for myself.” He said, “Never.” He goes, “I am always motivated by helping people.”
His people that he’s reaching, tend to be people– as far as HR executives and whatnot– HR executives with FMLA issues, and they’re reaching out to him. I think recently he wrote, with the pandemic, “I’ve never blogged as much before, ever.” That’s because he saw the need to help people. They were facing a myriad of issues that they had never faced before with this pandemic. He just was motivated to help people, so you better be thinking about an area that you think you can help people. People represent a lot. It’s not just saying, “These are people that are consumers, or unemployed people, whatever.” People are people in companies, they’re struggling. They’ve got a lot of issues to face. Could be a general council, could be an executive. They need answers to questions that they’ve never ever faced before. There’s interpretations of law that we’ve never had to interpret before. There’s executive orders coming down that they have to deal with. People like Jeff Nowak are kicking it out, and helping those type of people, and they appreciate it. If you’re blogging well, you’re going to attract like-minded bloggers. It just happens. We’re not going to cover all the subjects in Chapter One. If you build it, they will come with a blog. This is very much a field of dreams. If you build it, they will come. Some of the people that are going to come are going to be like-minded bloggers in the United States, and sometimes from around the world. Do you want to meet those people? Are they the type of people you want to learn from? Not just who they are, but what they have an interest in. So, be thinking about who I’m attracting, the bloggers and the people. As you intersect with those bloggers, they’re going to build your reputation.
It has to be fun. Blogging is very fun to do. If you’re doing something that you enjoy, if you believe in it, if you have a desire to learn, if you have a desire to give and you’re working in an area, or building a name in an area that you’d like to get known in, it’s just a lot of fun. It’s a lot better than trying to figure out how I’m going to go out, and you can’t go shake hands today or go to events. That’s over, so blogging can be as important as anything.
The other thing, and I would remiss if I didn’t just raise it right now with the pandemic because I will talk about niches next. You have to get focused on something that people would find of value today, and you can’t blog like on the other side of the interstate, where everybody on one side of the interstate is dealing with pandemic, and you’re just talking about building a practice on what everybody else was doing two months ago. You’re going to have to do something to help people. When I talked to the Washington Bar Young Lawyers Association last week I used an example of workers’ compensation for healthcare workers with COVID claims because there’s nobody that blogs that. I could imagine a lawyer that was doing family law. They could say workers’ compensation has its nuances that I don’t understand at all. I could go to the state site on the Department of Labor or Workers’ Comp and begin to read about it and start to understand workers’ compensation. I could begin to paraphrase or even put the state information right up and then start to read what’s been written around the country for healthcare workers, and just provide a resource for it. Imagine being a nurse that’s 24-years old; all they wanted to be was a nurse. Now they’re a nurse, they’re scared out of their minds to go to work and the next thing they know they’ve got COVID and they’re out of work. Maybe they have some resulting injury as a result of it. Where do they go? Imagine being able to just Google that information from a doctor’s office or at home and finding that information because there was a lawyer that cared.
So, be thinking about it that way. What are the things that people really need? You’re going to see businesses boom as a result of the pandemic while other businesses slide because those businesses started to look at “what did people need the most of” and “what could we provide that those people needed”. I think with the blog too, you can get passionate about helping people and you can start to think about the pandemic and start to think about those niches that I could even begin to cover that aren’t being covered by other people. It really doesn’t matter if you’re going to generate a huge amount of work. You’re starting to build a name for yourself as a lawyer that is willing to help people. That’s not altogether bad. All this information is on my blog. There is a post that I will put up on Facebook and share it in other places, legal blogging book, 45 chapters long. I’ll be back on, tomorrow at eleven o’clock, Pacific Time. You guys have a great day.