One of the many joys of indulging in end-of-year wrap-up projects is re-hashing the stories told by the clients you’ve worked with over time.

While going through past episodes of This Week in Legal Blogging, I was reminded of the passion and talent that we have in this community of legal bloggers. It’s clear that lawyers are using both the style and content of blogging as an outlet to connect with readers in their own real, authentic ways. Here’s what I found to be true throughout these interviews: the best legal bloggers didn’t worry about what everyone else was doing. They did what worked best for their niche and their clientele. Our community shares their approaches below.

On style and length, it’s not a one-size-fits-all

LexBlog founder and CEO Kevin O’Keefe has a very straightforward approach: write what needs to be written. Once you’re done, publish the post. To quote his exact thoughts on length, a blog post should be:

“However long it takes to say what you have to say. No more. No less.”

Whether it’s short, long, punchy, or fluffy, your style needs to work well for both you and your audience. Farrell Fritz’s Peter Mahler takes a long-winded approach, one that works best for his readers:

“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.”

On the other hand, legal bloggers like Scott Key at Georgia Criminal Apellate Law Blog prefer a shorter approach. Scott encourages bloggers to take the pressure off themselves and just start small:

“Blog posts don’t need to be some big sprawling document because nobody’s going to read that. You can write a couple of paragraphs and they’re great… blog posts don’t have to be a masterpiece.”

Kevin LaCroix of D&O Diary agrees that short, condensed posts might just be the best approach to getting your point across:

“I think the best blog post is short and punchy and says what it says, and that’s it.”

Writing for your audience: be intentional, be relatable

It’s crucial for legal bloggers to keep their audience in mind while writing. Jamie LaPlante, author of the blog Ohio Employment Law Matters, points out that lawyers do not make up her blog’s entire readership. Targeting the desired audience—while also being aware that not all readers have law degrees—is a fine line to tow. Jamie explains how she does it:

“I try to write it so that someone who does not have a law degree can read it easily and digest. So the typical HR person or business owner or someone who needs business law advice would read it. I try not to write it so that it can only be read by a lawyer.”

A legal blog is a tool for gaining the credibility and trust of current clients, potential clients, and other lawyers. Sandra Edelman, co-creator and co-editor of the heavily praised IP law blog TheTCMA.com explains that legal blogging should be informative above all else. She notes that:

“If it’s a law blog, as opposed to other types, you should really be trying to be informative. Don’t lose sight of being informative to being clever.”

Being informative doesn’t mean your blog should lack personality. Scott Key, one of the most informative bloggers in the industry, states the following about writing to his audience:

“In doing a law blog, you want to be informal and relatable, but write with some authority as well. I think the creative side of blogging definitely keeps my writing muscles a little bit more creative.”

It’s critical to remember that readers need to be told how a post relates to them. How does a change in the law, or a topic that you’re covering, affect their lives? If your content does not maintain relevance to the lives of your audience, readership drops. Dan Schwartz of Connecticut Employment Law hits the nail on the head regarding reader relevance:

“I think if there’s anything I’ve 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 switched to 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.'”

Stuart Kaplow, author of Green Building Law Updates, knows a thing or two about the importance of connecting with readers. If your posts revolve around metrics, SEO, marketing, or numbers, Kaplow suggests re-evaluating your focus. The best thing that you can do for your blog is to write to the people who are reading it. The rest will surely come. Kaplow sums it up perfectly:

“One of the lessons that I was taught early on that I would pass along is about this whole idea of the metrics and the whole idea of looking at the number of subscribers you have to email. I’m sure that would be of some interest to some folks, and it may have some merit, but it bears little if any relationship to what we do. I would urge folks to write to their target.

Don’t be afraid to find your voice

Tanya Foresheit of Focus on the Data mentions that blogging is one of the outlets that she’s capitalized upon to humanize herself through writing. The passion she has revealed in herself through blogging has led to great success over the years,

“One of the things that I have tried to bring to blogging, which kind of comes from that background, is I like to make it my voice. If you are inspired by a subject, the thing will write itself.”

Not all lawyers are focused on the idea that blogging is about connecting with people; relationships are what make authoring a blog so worthwhile. Charles Sartain of Energy & the Law knows this and explains that his style also focuses on injecting humor and personality into the blog. Blogging, just like any other relationship, boils down to how willing one is able to be real, authentic, and personable:

“What I learned is writing for a general audience, writing as a bit of an entertainer instead of a purveyor of knowledge is not the same as writing for a judge. I try to put some personality and humor into it; I don’t know what readers think about it, but I try.”

Jamie LaPlante codifies humor as a vessel for connection and humanization,

“I try to always include a header picture. I also try to inject more humor. I was a lot more serious in my writing early on because you’re a lawyer and you’re supposed to be. I try to make them a little catchier now, if I have time to think of something catchy to say.”

 Linsday Griffiths, another powerful legal blogger and Executive Director of the International Lawyers Network, stresses the impact and benefits that she’s experienced from blogging. She leaves us with a final thought:

“Don’t be afraid to find your voice, get out there and do it…I can’t under-emphasize the impact that it’s had on my personal and professional life in a really wonderful way.”

I’ll let you in on a secret. Blogging isn’t easy, but it’s sure to be worth it

Countless interviews later, I picked up a theme from seasoned bloggers: great blogging, the kind that lands you a trusted reputation, and a large clientele, takes time.  The ROI does pay off, but most likely, not in the first few months. Blogging is a muscle that takes strengthening, and your audience is a crowd that needs convincing. Reputations take time. Trust takes time.

David Johnson of the Texas Fiduciary Litigator Blog tells people that they have to blog “for 3-4 years” to really get into it and that “they need to be patient.” He insists on what all longtime legal bloggers already know, “It’s not an instant gratification type of thing.”

Jean O Grady, Senior Director of Research and Knowledge at DLA Piper and author of Dewey B Strategic, says this about keeping up with a blog:

“If your blog gets stale, people won’t come back, so I have tried to keep at least once a week.”

The front end of launching a blog might seem like a job and a half. Karen Rubin, co-founder of The Law for Lawyers Today understands the grind that’s required to gain traction during the first few months and years of a blog. She explains her group’s approach:

“We started plugging away with weekly blogs, we took it very seriously and cranked out content every week, which I think is very important, to have regular communication, regular posts, regular content.”

They say it takes 10,000 hours to become a pro at something. Conditional learning happens through practice, dedication, and results; only time will yield true benefits. That’s why Leonard Gordon, chair of Venable‘s Advertising and Marketing Group, believes that having associates write and speak at an early stage in their career will have serious payoffs down the road. He notes:

“I think it’s [blogging’s] an incredibly worthwhile investment for the firm and for the younger associates too. They get comfortable writing, and then we also do webinars.”

Jeff Nowak, author of FLMA Insights, confirms this idea:

“You have to start with passion and perseverance. Don’t spend your time worrying about what the stats or the data look like. Do it because you want to do it and you want to help people and all of that other stuff is going to come with it. You’re going to gain that trust, you’re going to gain the clients, you’re going to gain the SEO over time.”

Most importantly, choose LexBlog as your turnkey solution ☺️

As Lisa Stam found out early in the game, LexBlog is the key to success.

“I reached out to LexBlog because I kept seeing that name at the bottom of all these great blogs out there. I reached out, and things were up and running by early 2009.”

Just write the dang post. We’ll do the rest. Don’t believe us? Believe Francis Pileggi, author of the 16-year-old Delaware Corporate & Commercial Litigation Blog, which has earned impressive recognition such as  Top Blog by LexisNexis and a spot in the ABA Blawg 100. After reporting that he would be able to trace millions of dollars brought in directly through the blog, he gave us this statement, with which I’ll close:

“I did some sleuthing and some online investigation and I found the legendary Kevin O’Keefe who I’d read about was just starting this company targeting lawyers and lawyers who wanted to have a blog. I spoke to Kevin and he explained what was involved and it turned out to be relatively easy to do because LexBlog would do all the background work and all I had to do was provide the content.

Photo of Shale Heidinger Shale Heidinger

Shale started with LexBlog June of 2020. Having worked in the community industry the previous two years out of college, she joined the LexBlog team to advance the growth of the legal blogging community. With a passion for narrowing the justice gap and…

Shale started with LexBlog June of 2020. Having worked in the community industry the previous two years out of college, she joined the LexBlog team to advance the growth of the legal blogging community. With a passion for narrowing the justice gap and making legal services more accessible to all, Shale will be dedicated to empowering bloggers with resources, fostering relationships with clients, and advocating for meaningful connections among the legal community.