A lot of people think of blogging as nothing but a marketing tool. We disagree, and evidently, so does William Silverman.
Silverman is the Partner leading Proskauer Rose‘s pro bono practice and serves as co-editor in chief of Proskauer For Good, the firm’s corporate social responsibility and pro bono blog. A few weeks ago, he joined Bob Ambrogi on This Week in Legal Blogging to talk about the positive results of blogging for public service. Read on for his unique and important insight.
It’s a better way to celebrate your efforts
In the pro bono world, publicity isn’t profit-driven, but it’s still important. This work is extremely important for marginalized and low-income individuals who can’t afford typical legal rates; therefore, getting your name and relevant news out there as a pro bono lawyer is vital to creating as much positive change as possible.
“In the past when we would want to talk about an event or something new that we were doing, we’d issue a press release,” Silverman said. “A press release that has no newsworthy value that nobody would read was a waste of time, just to be put on our website, seemed sort of a waste of time.”
The question, then, is how do you publicize in an accessible way that won’t be ignored?
“The blog is more substantive and has compelling content that somebody wants to read so it’s a much better way for us to share our experiences and our events with the outside world,” he said.
Blogging is a more personal and conversational way to communicate your ability to help, and, especially in the pro bono world, how much you care.
There’s a lot to write about, and a lot to be gained from writing
Most legal fields have a lot to offer in terms of post ideas, and, according to Bill, pro bono work is no exception.
“There are an unlimited number of stories and pro bono experiences and volunteer work that you can write about,” he said.
Bill described some of the standout posts he’s written and seen over the years and how it served as a benefit to both the authors and the audiences.
“One occasion I went to the border to do immigration work,” he said. “I did three posts on my experiences down there; it gave me a really good outlet to share my firsthand observations in a way that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.”
“Anyone at the firm can write. We have our summer associates and pro bono interns write posts. Our best single blog post, which is actually now part of a Yale Law school class syllabus, was written by a pro bono intern.”
Clearly, blogging can help spread important information about the work that paid legal work may overlook, while simultaneously accelerating the career and expertise of the authors who are heavily invested in this work.
It allows you to remain consistent in your firm and lead in your field
Like we mentioned, blogging is about more than marketing. It’s true in any practice area
“There’s a marketing component to it, but if you simply try to market your pro bono by touting your successes and patting yourself on the back, no one is really going to care or read it,” Silverman said. “It may make you feel good, but it’s not going to be very compelling.”
A point Silverman highlighted so well is that a pro bono practice is no different than any other—the bar is still high. He explained:
“The idea was really to align it with the other departments. If you look at our other departments and even other firms, the lawyers want to be thought leaders They write about current events and recent decisions. They want clients to see that they’re experts on the field and call them up and hire them.
My view is there should be no difference with pro bono. We should be viewed as the leader in the work that we do, and we should become aware of what’s going on.”
And, of course, it helps you remain true to your cause. If your legal work is aimed at helping others, blogging will only amplify and accelerate the work you’re doing to achieve that goal.
“We should use blogging to advocate for change,” said Silverman, “so that we’re looking beyond the individual case and trying to effect change in a more global fashion.”