Peter A. Mahler, business divorce and commercial litigation attorney, of Farrell Fritz joined This Week in Legal Blogging with Bob Ambrogi. He represents control and non-control owners and often works with family-owned businesses. He is also the author of the 13-year-old New York Business Divorce Blog. Peter loves writing and has received several accolades for his work with law reviews in addition to his practice.
Peter discusses the nature of his work as a business divorce lawyer and who he finds himself communicating with the most. He then tells viewers about the process of starting his blog in 2007, why he decided to do so, and how Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog helped the process. Peter further discusses working with other lawyers on the blog, who his audience is, and how it has helped his business grow. He closes with advising people interested in blogging to find their niche, stick with it, and watch the successful results speak for themselves.
Here’s the full episode and, down below, we have a selection of the best exchanges.
You’ve been writing your blog, New York Business Divorce since 2007. What got you started down this road? Why did you start to blog in the first place?
I had been doing some writing for legal publications all the way back to the late ’90s. I was writing articles for the New York Law Journal and the New York Bar Association’s Law Journal, so I was starting to get out there and get a reputation and that led to invites to speak. Fast forward to about 2004 or 2005, I started to notice a few law blogs, including LexBlog. Around that same time, I remember getting some calls from prospective clients, and I said “Well how did you find me?” They mentioned that they’d seen some of my print media articles online. I love to write, it’s the way I always thought I’d be able to draw some attention and bring in clients because I write very well. Somehow I made that connection between law blogs and people finding me online.
Around 2006, I got more serious about it. Nobody in my firm knew about law blogs, so I had to overcome some inertia to really get the blog started, and by 2007, I was really pushing it. I got in touch with Kevin O’Keefe. We started, and I went live at the end of 2007. I started publishing pieces every Monday, and I haven’t missed a post since; here we are thirteen years later. I do once a week religiously. I joke with people that if they don’t see that post on Monday, they should go look for an obituary. Keeping that schedule is key though. There’s a core group of loyal readers (mostly lawyers and judges), not even prospective clients necessarily, who have come to expect it. Some have told me that the first thing they do when they get up on Monday morning is take a look at my blog. The pieces that I write (I’ve brought a few people in to share the writing over the last few years) are long form writing—against Kevin’s rules—because I can’t help myself. I think my audience appreciates that long form, which I’m used to now.
Who are you thinking about when you’re writing your blog posts?
I don’t think I’m thinking about one slice of the audience. I’m not writing a brief, I want business owners and appraisers to be able to read and understand it. However, I do want lawyers and judges to read it as well because I get business from them too, sometimes if a firm is splitting. I will never put some sort of closing line saying to give me a call. I let the pieces speak for themselves, and that seems to have worked. I’m surprised that other business divorce lawyers in localities haven’t tried to emulate what I do, like in California or some other big states. One of the great things about litigating in New York is that there’s always something to write about. I’m not sure that’s true in other states, particularly in other states that don’t have the same volume of court activity.
Do you get a lot of business from your blog?
Most of my business comes from my blog. It surprises me just as much today as it did when those first calls and emails started to come in. Most of those people aren’t subscribers, they’re business owners. Over the years, more and more business owners have grown tech savvy and decided to Google when they need help. With the right search, I come up on page one. They may not read everything, but they’ll get a sense from looking at my blog that “Hey, this guy knows what he’s talking about.” It’s been a real recipe for marketing success. It’s really worked because this is such a micro-niche practice. I don’t know if there’s any business divorce person publishing the way I do. It’s worked out very well.
And I get that business directly and indirectly. If I’m getting it directly, the person will call me and when I ask how they found me, they’ll say they saw my blog. The indirect stuff is harder to pin down. I’ll get a call from a business owner and they’ll mention a lawyer that I’ve never heard of. I make the assumption that the lawyer knows me from the blog. There is a sort of environmental impact of blogging, where people just know what your specialty is from exposure, and they aren’t seeing others in New York promoting that specialty.
Any final words?
Nothing terribly original. I’m channeling a little bit of Kevin O’Keefe by constantly beating the drum of niche blogging. I think it’s a great vehicle to not only become more proficient in an area you like but also for marketing yourself online. The more narrow your area is, the more likely it is that you’ll bring in the business you want. If you’re watching this and thinking about starting to blog, that would be my advice. It’s not original advice but it’s good advice.
• • •