Establish Goals

Good afternoon from Seattle and to the rest of the country where it’s already afternoon as well. I’m starting a little bit late. We usually do this at eleven o’clock Pacific Time every day. What we’re doing is joining the #Blog4Good Campaign to institute a program of lawyers from coast to coast, associated with various bar associations and major law firms and whatnot that are cooperating to get more and more lawyers blogging.

By nature of where things are at today, it’s all about the pandemic and the virus and the legal issues that arise out of that, whether it’s relating to consumers, small business people, corporations, senior in house counsel, you name it. It was run across the board. What LexBlog is doing with the initiation of the #Blog4Good Campaign is empowering lawyers who are not blogging to blog by providing them the platforms at low-cost or free if they need them and showcasing the good blogging of the lawyers that are already blogging.

At the same time, I’m going to run through 45 points that I think make for effective blogging. This is going one point a day so we’re only going to be four points in today;  this is going to continue into July. They’ll all be broadcasted here on Facebook Live and they’ll also go up on the YouTube channel there. We’ll get them transcribed for further information and maybe at some point, get this reduced to a book so that you have just the opportunity to pick up this information.

Before I forget, the New York hat is really to recognize the great work that they’ve done in New York at bringing down the bell curve. I’m on the opposite coast, but kudos to all of you and what you’ve done. From what I hear, New York is getting ready to open up, it may not be the same but it could be better than it even was before. Some of the things that they’re doing and proposing now, when you think back to what we are faced with compared to now coming up on Memorial Day…It’s pretty amazing to bring that curve back down so kudos to New York and to Queens where I was born.

What we’re talking about today is establishing goals. What often happens with lawyers, law firms, any legal professional when they start a blog, is that they have a goal of having a blog. I’m serious, maybe they’ll say, “Our practice group wants to have a blog. What’s the goal?” “Well, we need to have a blog, our practice group has to have one.” “Why?” “Well, now somebody, the partner head for the practice group, thinks we ought to have it.” “Why?” “Well, everybody has one. There’s other firms that have one and we think we should have them.” These are really not goals that you would think of from the standpoint that as the people would have a goal.

If somebody’s going to go run a marathon, they’re probably going to put a timeline. They’re not going to say, “I run a marathon because somebody else does it,” or that type of thing. You have some goals attached to it, and they should be real. You should write them down on a piece of paper. Otherwise, what’s going to happen is when you get to the end of the year, you’re not going to understand whether you’ve accomplished anything or not because you’re going to have wandering generalities as far as what we thought we were going to do, and nobody’s held accountable in the process.

The other thing that you’re going to have to do is not fall for anything because somebody’s going to come along and say, “You should do it for this reason, do it for that reason, do it for that reason.” When you don’t have any goals, you have nothing to use to see if that reason is real or not. You want to say, “Why are we having a blog?” There could be a myriad of reasons that you’re having a blog. It could be to improve my lawyering skills in a particular area of law. Nothing would be better than following other writers and developments in the news and whatnot and sharing your insight and commentary as you read.

It could be nothing more than taking a blockquote and sharing it and citing the person and saying what you thought is the result of it. If you did that twice a month, it’s 26 thoughts that go through that in the course of a year. You’d probably be a better lawyer. That could be one goal. A goal could be to write better. I know that sounds silly but it could be. Maybe it’s to write as people, write as opposed to how lawyers write. Maybe it is to develop business, which is a lot of people’s goal. If it’s to develop business, how am I going to measure that? A lot of people will fall to stats and traffic and they don’t really think of it in the beginning but they do.

I tell them if you’re going to follow the stats from traffic, and usually, what they’re thinking about is somehow that ties to revenue, which is a tremendous leap of faith that somehow web traffic generation to revenue. If you want a story, I can share mine from when everything was page views in 1999 during the dotcom era, and then somebody found out the Emperor had no clothes and the whole dotcom economy crashed because it wasn’t going to be based on page views and traffic as a sign of valuations for companies.

There’s nothing that your CFO or your accountant has that keeps track of that says, “Can you give me the stats and traffic because we include those in the financial reports for the people that are managing your firm.” It’s not done. It has to be based on sound things. The other thing that I will tell you, LexBlog has been around since the end of 2003, beginning in 2004. Never once have we done things to chase stats. I wouldn’t know how to get to the stats on my blog. I wouldn’t have an idea where to log in and to get them. I can’t think of the last time I looked at where they were.

The idea that you would use stats to arrive at something just seems very fleeting. You’re going to hear people talk about, “We’ll put your blog in your website.” Why would you put your blog on your website? Because you’re going to get more traffic to your website. It’s like if it’s something that doesn’t matter, we’re going to pull out over here, put it over here to have more of these so that I can get credit for doing something with your website. It’s not stats, and it’s not traffic. That shouldn’t be your goal.

I would rather have the goal of being recognized as a leading lawyer in employment law in Connecticut. That’s Dan Schwartz I would be talking to momentarily as soon as we’re done here. By the end of my second year of blogging, I would like to be making incrementally more in revenue than I’m personally bringing into the firm and have at least a million dollars more. Maybe at four years, I would like to be bringing incrementally more into the firm or to myself two or three or four million dollars more.

Those are real things. Those are real things that could happen. You can do that through blogging. There are women and men around this country that are bringing in millions of dollars only because they blogged and only because of the relationships they built on the blog. It wasn’t because of web stats and traffic but they blogged and somehow they picked up these great clients, whether they’re in a consumer-level or at a business level.

I would look at the revenue side, I really would, because other people are doing it. What makes you any lesser than them? You should look at the revenue side. Anybody that says, “Well you really can’t tell where the work is coming from when it’s coming from the blog.” I hear that all the time. “We don’t know where the work is coming from when it’s coming from the blog.” There’s this idea that there’s going to be a button there that the lawyers’ cooperation is going to click and say, “Well, that’s my lawyer. I like the way they blog. I think I’ll hire them for this major deal.” Even a consumer isn’t going to hire a probate lawyer because they’re able to push a button on a blog and now we can track it. Any good lawyer knows where their work comes from. They know it. Somebody will say, “I got your name from so and so,” You may have had a relationship with “so and so” because of a blog. Some people actually will contact you and say, “We really like following your blog. We like it. We’ve been big followers for years.” I’ve had lawyers tell me, “We’re big followers of your blog for years,” some major corporations. They’re meeting people in their in-house counsel group, or it could be in their HR group, it could be various types of things, but it is revenue, and you should sit there and align it with revenue.

If you’re sitting there practicing, if you’re doing it in a practice group, you’ve got 6 or 8 or 12 people, you’re just blogging because somebody says you got to do a blog post every two weeks and that person’s got to do a blog post every two weeks and we’re doing it because, “We’ve got this many stats or this many subscribers,” and nobody’s aligning it to revenue. To me, that just seems the height of folly. Because lawyers are billing out anywhere from 300 to 800, some $1,000 an hour, and they’re going to spend two hours on a blog post or three hours on a blog post, and then it goes right out of the door, it would be a total waste of money to say, “We’re doing it for stats.”

I would be aligning it to revenue. I mentioned before, being a better lawyer, I tend to meet bloggers that blog their own stuff. I’m not meeting people that have a content writer that used to practice law or be a journalist that puts up stuff for the lawyer because he doesn’t do much for the lawyer’s acumen from blogging. How’s your career growing now that your blog is growing? If your blog is going on and somebody else is blogging for you, it’d be like saying somebody else went to law school for you and getting to be a better law student, you’re going to be prepared to be a lawyer, somebody went for you.

Blogging is a thing that improves your skills as a lawyer. It improves your analysis of issues. It allows you to see things out there that other people don’t see. It allows you to be a better lawyer for your clients. Those lawyers that blog are better lawyers for their clients. Those lawyers that hire somebody else to blog for them…well, first of all it’s probably unethical because it’s misleading to not disclose that you didn’t write what the public believes that you wrote, but secondly, it’s just an awful thing that isn’t doing anything to improve the lawyer’s skills. You’re losing out on just a tremendous opportunity.

The last thing to think about is what if you understood the net. To understand the net doesn’t mean that you understand how to run a Google search. It understands how to use the net as a communications medium to build relationships, to build a reputation, to build your name for a certain lawyer, to become a better lawyer. It’s now 2020. In 1996, when I started to use the Internet as a practicing lawyer to answer questions and whatnot, I didn’t know anything about it. Quite frankly, beginning in 2003 when I’m getting ready to start Lexblo, I didn’t know anything about blogs or blogging or anything like it, but what if lawyers could begin to understand the internet?

From 1996 to 2020, the number of lawyers that understand how to use the Internet compared to ’96 is damn few. They really don’t have a clue. They have no idea how the internet is used as a communications medium, how to listen first, and then how to engage the people that you are listening to, and how to do that in a strategic way so that you’re framing the room and begin to have a conversation with those people via your blog and the engagement you’re introducing into the room after you’ve listened. People have no clue what that is.

Then the different things that come into. What is the role of a news aggregator? Most people haven’t even heard of a news aggregator. How do you setup a news aggregator to see the type of information you’d like to see, so as you blog about that type of information you’re raising your reputation in becoming a trusted source for other people. How do people use Twitter in a really effective way to be able to listen to what’s going on out there and to share things that people appreciate and value? How do you use LinkedIn in a way far beyond a resume? How do you use Facebook as a way to introduce all of these conversations and engage with it?

These are skills that are far, far, far beyond the average lawyer. They don’t have a clue, or they say it’s not them, or they say they don’t have time for it, like they know how much time it takes because they never even tried. To understand the internet and to understand how to use it in a way that can help yourself, can help your family, can help other people, is a huge thing. I tell people, if at the end of a year, you understand how to use the internet better than you did when you started to blog, wouldn’t that be extraordinary? Because at that point in time, you could use the internet to do all these other things. To become a better lawyer, to raise money, to do things for your family, to do things for other people. All of those things will come into play.

During that first year, you will feel those things along the way. You will feel a little bit of love from the outside world. You’ll start to realize that these goals might just be accomplishable, if that’s even a word. Then talk to the lawyers out there that have accomplished some of these goals. Are they real? Is it possible? Could I really do this? It might not be the lawyers that you know where you’re from that believe in any of these. It might not even be somebody in the marketing department or the business development is the firm, because maybe they haven’t blogged to build their career personally.

What I would do is make sure you’re establishing goals, write down why you’re blogging, eliminate stats and statistics. You can learn things from stats as to who might be looking at it, who’s subscribing to your blog, it is somewhat motivating. I would tie it to revenue, so that you’re putting a line item in revenue as to what I want to accomplish at year one, what I want to accomplish at year two in revenue. I would put those things in Post-It notes near my computer or wherever I’m going to be blogging.

I need to take note of what I want to be, what areas I want to grow my reputation in, and I need to make that an item. I’m going to be a recognized lawyer in this area. Then I’m going to understand the net and realize what that means. That’s it for today. I hope you have a good rest of the day. We’ll be back tomorrow, hopefully at 11:00, and we’ll talk about having a group blog versus an individual blog. There’s a lot of differences between the two. Take care.

Sophia Singh

I am a senior at Fordham University Rose Hill in the Bronx, majoring in political science and English with a history minor. I plan to attend law school after graduating. My writing on tenants’ rights in New York was inspired by my own…

I am a senior at Fordham University Rose Hill in the Bronx, majoring in political science and English with a history minor. I plan to attend law school after graduating. My writing on tenants’ rights in New York was inspired by my own experiences listening and learning from Bronx residents.

You can reach me at ssingh77@fordham.edu