David F. Johnson is a practicing Winstead trial and appellate lawyer who has worked on financial litigation for his entire legal career. He is also the author of the Texas Fiduciary Litigator Blog, which reports on legal cases and issues impacting the fiduciary field in Texas.
David sits down with Bob Ambrogi to discuss his legal focus in fiduciary law and what experience has been blogging in this niche. He discusses the process of narrowing his focus and how this made blogging an enjoyable hobby. He also discusses his writing style, use of social media and marketing, blogging’s impact on his practice and client base, and the importance of patience.
Here’s the full episode and, down below, we have a selection of the best exchanges.
You’ve got the blog Texas Fiduciary Litigator. Tell us about the blog; what’s its focus?
There will be a number of cases that directly or tangentially hit on important fiduciary issues. So I post updates every week on that case law. And then I have my own interest articles that I’ve written on fiduciary, and I put those up on the blog as well. There’s not a trust case that gets decided that’s not on my blog. About 80-90% of the estate cases get on the blog. Closely held business, maybe even some employment and other fiduciary issues get on the blog. I find they all kind of interact and intersect at some point, so I try to keep my pulse on all of that case law in this region. One reason I really love my practice is that this area of law is never well settled. There’s always common law coming into play to challenge what’s established; I find intellectually stimulating.
What got you interested in blogging in the first place?
Well I actually had another blog earlier, the Financial Appellate Voice. The thought was that if there was a financial appellate case happening in Texas, I was going to blog on it. This was back when I was doing my appellate practice. The problem was it was too diffuse. It was too much to do, really, for one person. So, I decided that I wanted to focus more narrowly on the fiduciary side because that’s what I really did. And that blog really took off, so I just sort of abandoned my first blog and started a whole new one around 2014 or 2015. Since then it’s been so much easier to hit on the area I practice in, and I want to keep up on the case law anyway. So, it fit perfectly that way. To answer your question (why did I do it?): I’ve seen lots of great lawyers who don’t have client bases, and I’ve seen lots of mediocre lawyers who have tons of clients. And I never understood that. I had to get really familiar with content marketing and telling people that I’m an expert in a certain area of the law. This blog was my way of getting my name out there and telling people that David Johnson knows what he’s talking about in the area of trust and estate litigation.
Have you seen positive marketing results directly from the blog?
It’s had a huge impact on my practice. I had to be patient though. You start, you get some clients that you hope are your friends and support you by sending your information around, and it grows organically. I start with one follower, it turns into 150 followers, etc. Also, when I put up a blog post, it gets linked to LinkedIn, it goes to Twitter, sometimes it goes to my firm’s Twitter account, and it’s all kind of multi-media oriented. So, I would say that my client base has grown four-fold in the last five or six years, and maybe it’s just my age and coming into my own in my career has a lot to do with it, but I have to give a lot of credit to my blog as well.
Is your firm supportive of blogging?
It is. It supports the blog financially, and I’m sure everyone has their own opinions on stuff, but from a resource perspective they’ve been great, and they always give me an “atta boy” when I get awards for it. There’s other blogs in the firm, and they get started and are excited and they just kind of go away because they lose interest. I tell people they have to do it for 3-4 years to really get into it; they need to be patient. I don’t think there’s any right or wrong way to blog; I have a partner who blogs very differently than me but we both enjoy it.
Do you have any advice to share with other legal professionals who are just starting out in blogging or are considering doing so?
Firstly, have patience; it’s not an instant gratification type of thing. Secondly, think ahead. Have a lot of material ready so that when you have dry spells, you have something to post up there. And third, try to be as specific as possible and focus in on the specific thing you want to talk about. That’s been the key to any success I’ve had with this thing.
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