12/5/08

Large Law Firm Blogging - Do You Really Want Your Firm To Own Your Blog??

This week, we've been listing all the large law firms that we could find that publicize the fact that they have attorney written blogs. We broke it down into those that were proud of their blogs vs. those that seem to be luke-warm to the fact that these blogs exists.  There are a few more categories we could also cover, such as those firms that would ban blogging by their attorneys, or attorneys that have stealth blogs that either haven't been discovered by their firms Marketing Department or Senior Partners, or are just plain ignored by the firm's upper echelon. These would be interesting (but difficult) lists to compile, but what interests me the most is the attorneys that have blogs, but don't necessarily want the firm to have anything to do with them.
There were a few comments on the previous posts that said that they actually wanted to keep their personal blogs, well... "personal." And, they had a number of reasons to keep the firm from taking ownership of the blog: 
  1. Personal blogs do not have to be "screened" by anyone in the firm before being posted. This allows for attorneys to post quickly to breaking news, or just whenever the mood hits them. 
  2. If I move to another firm, I can take my personal blog with me. It would tragic to have to leave something that you feel is your own and turn it over to others to manage (or destroy) when you move on to another firm.
I've also been thinking of what are the benefits of having your firm taking ownership (or at least promoting and supporting) a blog.  So, I came up with this list:
  1. I have a multi-million dollar organization with thousands of clients and a global (or at least national) reach supporting my efforts.
  2. Others in my firm can team with me to work on a specific legal topic blog.  Spread the effort of maintaining an up-to-date blog across the Practice Group, thus making the blog more diverse and current.
  3. I feel somewhat less guilty if I blog between the hours of 8-5.  Hey, it's for the Firm!!
  4. Hopefully there is someone in Marketing that can help promote the blog.  A kind of built in Search Engine Optimizer and editor right on staff.
  5. My blog can lead to me being asked to speak at conferences on specific topics and the firm will see it as professional development, not just personal gratification.
I'm sure there's more, but I thought I'd leave a little something for all of you to leave in the comments section below.
To spruce this post up a little bit, I thought it would be interesting to survey the readership to see what they think about the relationship between a law firm and their attorney blogs.

What Type of Relationship Would You Want Between Your Blog and Your Firm?


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7 comments:

D. Todd Smith said...

The short answer for me is "No." My blog is part of my personal brand. If I ever went back to firm life (large, medium, or small), I would have a hard time agreeing to any situation that wouldn't allow me to take it with me if I leave. The firm would benefit from whatever business the blog helps be bring in while I'm there.

Greg Lambert said...

Todd,

I think it really boils down to how the blog was developed. If you develop one on your own, nurture it, promote it, and make it part of your personal identity, then you don't want anyone else telling you what to do with it.

If, on the other hand, it is a blog that is developed by a Practice Group and is treated more as a newsletter type blog, then it may not get the personal identification that blogs like you and I have developed. But, they tend to not be as good (in my opinion) as they are usually so "mechanical" in nature that they don't really gain a personality. To me, the one's with personality are the one's that I follow.

Carolyn Elefant said...

I have covered this topic in my book, Solo by Choice. With uncertainty rampant in the industry, no enterprising associate who helps to start a blog should ever do so under auspices of the firm, because the firm will keep the blog when they leave. Greatest American Lawyer Enricho Schaefer has posted on how his former firm at one time claimed that his blogs belonged to the firm. So the answer to your question should be an emphatic NO.

Greg Lambert said...

Thanks Carolyn. I'm going to check out Solo By Choice.

The "firm" blog in my mind should be something like Bracewell's "Energy Blog". Where you truly have a group effort creating something on a specific legal topic that conveys to the world that your firm is the top dog on this topic.

The focus of the Energy Blog seems to be pretty narrow and is more of a "newsletter" than a blog. In fact, just in writing this reply, I noticed that there is no way to "comment" on any of the Energy Blog posts. hmmm... now that kind of takes away one of the best features of the blog.

D. Todd Smith said...

There's definitely a place for blogs to promote a practice group within a firm, though I agree with Greg's observation that they tend to lack "personality." On the flip side, the load of generating content can be shared among several people, which would take a lot of the pressure off.

Doug Cornelius said...

Greg -

Having just a left a firm that ignored by blogs, I thought I would lend my perspective. The Firm dissociated itself from my blogs (I repeatedly asked for a reference in my bio but was denied)

It was great that I could take the with me and that there was no editorial control imposed on me.

It is the law firm that loses out. The positives get associated almost exclusively with me and little with the firm. It was relatively easy to find out where I worked so there was some association with the firm.

On the other hand, I understand the need of the firm to keep the blog at arm's distance. It is difficult to produce content that is not objectionable to all of the firm's clients. A firm inevitably has clients positioned on different sides of the issue.

Ideally, I think a legal blog should not be formally branded by the firm and should not have the firm's name in the blog title or URL. The blogger should clearly state that they work for the firm, but the views do not necessarily reflect those of the firm. The law firm should link out to the blog, but not have it integrated into the official firm site. Link the blog in the person's bio and let the firm's clients know it is there (but the views are those of the individual).

The firm gets the benefit of association for good blog posts/discussion and can disassociate for those that are bad or contentious.

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