On This Week in Legal Blogging, Bob Ambrogi sits down with Jean O’Grady, founder of Dewey B Strategic—which will celebrate its tenth birthday early next year. Jean is the Senior Director of Research and Knowledge at DLA Piper, a title she has held for 13 years. Noticing a lack of women bloggers in the space, Jean decided to start Dewey B Strategic in part to fill that gap as well as be a voice and advocate for librarians who were receiving a negative reputation in the media.
Jean touches on her motivations for blogging and the opportunities she’s received—which differ from others we’ve had on the show. She doesn’t see blogging as a way to bring in business or market the firm, but rather she has a passion for writing and learning new things and uses the blog as an outlet for that. It’s given her a number of international speaking and editorial opportunities as well as expanded her network in ways beyond what she would have imagined. Jean offers advice to those contemplating starting a blog, emphasizing the need for passion and knowledge.
Here’s the full episode and, down below, we have a selection of the best exchanges.
How do you decide what you’re going to write about? Do you have a routine around it?
It’s definitely based on time available because I have lots of other things going on in my life. Am I interested in it? Do I think I have the expertise to evaluate the product? Sometimes people come to me with products and it’s just not a good fit. I tend to focus on things where I can add some value or some insight or I’m genuinely curious about what they’re doing. I like to blog twice a week, I don’t always get to do it. If your blog gets stale, people won’t come back, so I have tried to keep at least once a week.
If you’re not excited about it, you just can’t find the time. I had some great ideas that I never got off the the ground and I I still have the folders like I started collecting materials and maybe someday I’ll get back to them but. I don’t know it it it is. It is tough, and so it’s it again the pressure to keep the blague alive. You focus on what ‘can I get out this week’ and sometimes that pushes away. The more, the more you know maybe the more important issues.
Do you think blogging has changed your career?
I love writing. I love following the stories. I think maybe I was always a frustrated journalist and it got me an opportunity. So it’s sort of like fantasy baseball fantasy journalism. You know, right now I sort of have my own disciplines and routines about it. The other great thing—and this always makes me laugh.—it really is a strange passion because I love understanding information and I love watching new things happen and I love small companies that come up and can possibly disrupt what is going on.
I love it when these little companies come along and they have a new idea and they are seeing an opportunity that no one in the big company saw. I will be at a conference and these young San Francisco startup types of people come up to me and say, “Oh, you’re Jean O’Grady. I really want to talk to you” and I just laugh because, you know, I’m a baby boomer and they really want my advice on positioning their product.
If somebody were to come to you today and say, “I’m a younger legal professional and I’d like to start a blog,” what advice would you give somebody?
Find something you’re passionate about. I think the important thing is to have both enthusiasm and expertise, those two things really help. Develop friends, it’s been one of the best things has been the way it has exploded my network. I know people like you and Colin, and when I go to conferences, I have an excuse to talk to anybody.
It’s really been nice, the social part of it in terms of learning more, it is like endless learning because you know I am talking about a market segment that is exploding with innovation so you can basically never get bored. There’s always something around the corner.
Any other final thoughts or advice you want to share?
The biggest thing for me to overcome before I started was fear of being criticized. That was a really big fear, like I’m going to say something out into the world and sometimes people are going to piss me off and be mad at me. It was sort of almost a relief, because that happened early on when I did that blog post about the myth and the madness of cost effective legal research.
I got that all out of the way early and you know, there have been times when people misunderstood or maybe I even got a fact wrong, if I am wrong I will go back and I will correct it. You need to be fair to people, I always want to be viewed as being fair and giving people a fair shot so that’s important to me.
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