Over a year ago I mentioned that the Gartner Blog Network gave law firms a model to use (along with specific instructions and guidelines) to set up a firm-wide blog network for your firm. Since that time, I’ve talked with individual bloggers at firms and the answer has always been that their firms don’t want to take the risk of allowing their lawyers to blog on a firm-wide platform. Of course, the number one reason that was mentioned time and time again was the fact that they didn’t want some lawyer giving legal advice through a blog. My answer to that is, if you can’t trust your lawyers to follow rules of ethical conduct on a blog, then why give them email, or a telephone, or let them ride up the elevator with non-firm people?

Well, just to embarrass you once again, it seems that another group of professionals that lawyers listen to have started a blog platform for their attorneys to contribute. Westlaw’s Reference Attorneys have set up their own blog where they focus on the needs of Summer Associates and produce blog posts that point out some of the needs expressed by Summer Associates and relay that to others. The bloggers share information that comes in from Summer Associate calls in order to identify trends (such as issues on the gulf oil spill), and get someone to blog about how they’ve handled the issues so that others can benefit from the experience. Mike Carlson, Reference Attorney with Westlaw, talks about the reason for setting up the blog as a way to enter the space that a segment of their customer base is using. In fact, Mike mentions that they see a number of attorneys (not just Summer Associates) that are Googling on legal topics and find their blog in their Google results. Once they find the blog, they also give the West Reference Attorneys a call.

Let’s think about this for a minute. West Reference Attorneys have a common blog where they discuss trends they are seeing in legal research; their customers find them through searching legal topics; their customers are then reading the blog, and some even make a follow-up call to the reference attorneys to get more information. Seems like a decent business idea to me.

I suggest going back and taking a look at my post on the way Gartner established guidelines for its bloggers and see if it couldn’t be adapted to your firm or practice group. Blogs and social media are all about discussion and interaction. If you’re not doing something in the social media world, you’re missing out on that conversation.