On This Week in Legal Blogging, Bob Ambrogi sat down with Shipman & Goodwin lawyer Dan Schwartz. Dan is no stranger to the world of blogging—he has been running the accolade-winning Connecticut Employment Blog since 2007. Dan set out to blog about noteworthy developments for employers in Connecticut as part of his mission to make a name for himself as a premier lawyer. Outside of his blog, Dan represents clients on a variety of employment issues, including discrimination, whistleblowing, benefits, and much more. He is also a member of his firm’s multi-disciplinary Data Privacy and Protection Group, and he frequently presents on the topics on which he litigates.
Dan discusses what motivated him to start a blog, including an early background in journalism as well as how his goals have been fulfilled and surpassed, thanks to all of the benefits that blogging has brought. He details how he was a blogging pioneer at his firm and how he rose to become one of the most prominent and influential legal bloggers in the country. He talks about blogging through the pandemic, seeing how blogging has changed over the course of the last 13 years, and knowing your audience. He ends with some words of advice for people who are interested in blogging.
Here’s the full episode and, down below, we have a selection of the best exchanges.
What do you cover at Connecticut Employment Law Blog?
When I first met Kevin back in 2007 at an ABA meeting, I was trying to find out what I should name my blog. Kevin said, “What’s your target? What are you trying to accomplish?” And I said, “Well, if I could be a premier employment lawyer in Connecticut, that would be great.” He said, “Well, you know, Connecticut employment law blog is pretty open.” So that’s what I cover. That’s the name of the of the blog, and it is really designed to have new and noteworthy developments for employers in Connecticut. I’ve tried to maintain that mission throughout. I think as time has gone on, I’ve even become a little more laser-focused in terms of just really keeping the focus on Connecticut. I think early on, I would touch on some national topics a little bit more, but there’s far too much traffic out there to try to keep up. So I think as time has gone on, and it’s become about asking “What is the information that would be useful for employers in Connecticut?” And if I can’t answer that question with a post, I won’t post it.
Back in 2007 when you were thinking about starting a blog and wanting to become the preeminent employment lawyer in Connecticut, where were you at that point in your career? What were you doing at that point?
I was with another law firm that was very helpful to my my career. I’m indebted to them for even entertaining me—it was Epstein Becker and Green at the time. They now have obviously a lot of blogs, but they were sort of taking a chance. I came up with an idea that this might be something I would be interested in partially because I had done journalism in college. I’d love to just write my opinion and make a career out of it—so starting a blog is sort of a first attempt at that. Obviously, I never thought 13 years from now, I’d still be doing this. I’ve been contacted by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg and Employment Law 360. And, candidly, while I like to think of myself as a good employment lawyer, I know that the blog was a key part of that. There’s no other means to increase the profile, other than being one of the very, very few attorneys that have the highest profile cases in the nation. The rest of us are fighting for airtime.
How has the blog raised your profile? How did it play out in terms of what you wanted to do and the goals you have for your career? Did it help or hurt it?
It increased my profile with my peers, that was an unintended consequence. But as a result, I got to meet a ton of people who I never would have thought about. It also gave me a platform and a springboard to make introductions. One of the clients who I have now was an avid reader of the blog for a year and eventually had a lawsuit and reached out to me and said, “Hey, I’ve been reading your blog. Would you mind helping? I don’t know where else to turn.” It struck me that it went in line with something that one of my former mentors said, which is that you want to be the lawyer that clients think of first when you have a need because you’re never going to necessarily know when your clients are in trouble.
Oftentimes clients may make keep things close to the vest, and they have a variety of places they can turn to write. They have lawyers, bombarding them with mailings and other things all the time. I know when I’ve had a client, you know, get a lawsuit filed against them, they’ll hear about it from five or 10 other lawyers before they actually get served for the lawsuit itself. And so the only thing that sort of saves you from that is if you are the person that your client or potential client is going to think about. That’s what the blog has provided to me. People think about me because they’ve read something from me or they saw something from me. It doesn’t always get me the case or land me the work, but it gets me in the door. So, I always tell people who have a blog, if you think the blog is going to solve all your problems, that’s the wrong way to think about it. But the blog is going to be a tool to help you solve some of those problems. That’s the way to look at it; it gets you in the door and gets you some name recognition. I’ve become a better lawyer because of the blog.
Before the pandemic, how did you maintain your schedule around blogging? How do you find time for blogging now? How do you keep up with the legal issues that you need to keep up with?
It’s been interesting. There was probably a time in middle-to-late last year when writing wasn’t coming as easy. I was just not finding enough topics really interesting. I think I write when I’m interested or when I think that there’s something important to say. I recall wondering last year if it was time to stop. Did I finally reach that point where I’ve run out of things to talk about? Boy was I wrong. During this pandemic, particularly early on, there were developments everyday. I realized I was very lucky to have a platform that made it so that people already trusted me and wanted to hear from me and I them. I knew how important it was for them and I knew how important it was to get it right—not necessarily to be first but to be right. I think if there’s anything I’ve sort of learned over writing the blog, it’s that I shouldn’t be trying to break news. That’s what I tried to do early on, but there’s far too many professionals who are doing that. So, instead, I sort switched by adding context and analysis to the news instead of reporting it. The pandemic has given even more importance to that; “Here’s what this means to you.” There’s no playbook for what’s going on right now. Nobody’s lived through this.
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