After some nine years on the Blogger platform, this week, 3 Geeks and a Law Blog has switched over to the LexBlog platform. We hope that you like the new look and feel of the blog.

There was a lot of work behind the scenes by the LexBlog staff and the members of 3 Geeks. Although I’m sure there may be a few tweaks that we’ll need to make as we discover what did and what didn’t migrate over, I think most of you should still be receiving email updates of new posts, and the RSS feed has been moved over to the new site, so there shouldn’t be any modifications on the readers’ side. Some of the new features makes it a little easier to subscribe by email (on the right-hand side), and you can easily share posts to social media through links at the bottom of the individual posts.

Continue Reading The New and Improved 3 Geeks Blog

It’s that time of year: time for top 10 lists for 2017.

What is your favorite top 10 list for 2017? Top movies? Top books? Top cars?

Well, here’s one more: our top ten 3 Geeks blog posts for 2017 in true Letterman style.

Top 10 3 Geeks blog posts for 2017 - Lihsa at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog

No. 10
Legal News Publishers: Stop Using the Term “Non-Lawyer”

No. 9
The Best Law Firm Marketing Bullshit — Tier 1

No. 8
“Do You Miss Me Yet?” – Reestablishing the Corporate Librarians

No. 7
My Remarks and Highlights from the AALL 2017 Conference

No. 6
One more time: law firm libraries are not about space

No. 5
Law Firm BS – Tier 3

No. 4
Who leads the law library? How about law librarians?

No. 3
Why sole provider isn’t really a thing and I’m not going to say it anymore

No. 2
Why now? The rise of alternative legal service providers

No. 1
On Law Firm Marketing Bullshit

And  that’s it, folks–happy holidays!

Writing, posting and sharing blogs by @Lihsa

I’ve been blogging for over ten years now. And during that time, I’ve learned a thing or two about the craft.

Blogging has quite a distinctive style. There are a couple of ways I could go with this post: talk about the art of writing, posting techniques or ways to share your post. How about all three?

Blogging better: how to not write a like a lawyer

Writing a blog post

Writing a blog post is as simple as writing an email. Literally. It should be just as conversational, just as casual and just as succinct.

Not even my grandmother wants to wade through 50 densely written paragraphs about my opinions on whatever is on my mind. Never mind that no one’s grandmother would ever need to see a list of footnotes and citations to further codify my thoughts.

I try to keep paragraphs to three to four lines—not sentences—lines. And, yes, to a lawyer, a sentence-long paragraph seems ridiculous. But have you seen the length of a lawyer’s sentence? A typical sentence, written by a lawyer, is usually three lines long. Full of dependent and subordinate clauses, a diagramed lawyer’s sentence looks like an oak tree.

In blogs, we are aspiring for palm trees: a long trunk, a few frothy fronds and maybe a couple of coconuts.

In short: keep it simple. If you can’t explain your topic to your grandmother, you need to try again.

Post a blog post

Think about posting a blog like drawing a map. There are certain elements in a blog post that signal to Google where your post is located. You need to drop cookie crumbs to lead Google to your blog.

Think of these as sign posts, guiding Google: “come this way: my blog post is exactly what you’re searching for.”

What are these signposts? On this allegorical map called Google, you want to include:

1. Title: it acts like the city name on a map

2. Headings: these are the city’s sites and restaurants

3. Hyperlinks: these are the addresses to your coolest friends’ homes

If you don’t use these signposts, your blog post will be lost in the vastness of Google tundra, with a mere pinprick flagging Google to your page.

But when you add these signposts, you not only drop a pin to your post, you are adding billboards, neon arrows and flashing lights. Google is then directed to your post because you have signaled that your post is exactly what Google is searching for.

Which brings me to the all-important keyword. Think of keywords this way: how would you explain your blog post to your grandmother? If your post is about the constitutionality of the freedom of speech, then these key phrases should, in some part, be a part of your post’s title, headings and hyperlinks. Again, if you can’t explain it to you grandmother, try again.

Sharing a blog post

So you’ve finished your post and published it. I bet you think you’re done, right? Oh, no, mon frère.

You have to tell somebody about your blog post. You can’t just wait on some random cat to search on Google for you. You have to share it (which is a very nice way of saying publicize it).

The easiest way? Social media. Yes, that’s right. You have to post something about your blog on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or something. You could go the old fashioned route and email your post to a bunch of people but then you’ve just turned your blog post into an annoying emailed newsletter.

Social media is the natural sibling to blogging—there are a whole slew of legal bloggers that congregate on Twitter. Injecting yourself into that stream is great place to start to be known and engage like-minded people. My own blog sharing has led to recognition, speaking gigs and rewarding professional relationships (see @LawyerCoach , @StaceyEBurke , +Jan Rivers@beingkatie ‏ and @HaleyOdom, just to name a few).

And, who knows, you may find that when you share your post on Facebook, your grandma may share it with her Facebook friends. And one of those friends could very well lead to your next future client.

I have said in the past that my job as a blogger is to get the conversation started.  By that measure, my last post was extremely successful.  Three bloggers, that I know of, felt compelled to write follow up posts to The Myth of Disruptive Technology,  and at least one commenter went so far as to “not suggest this post is without value”.

I think I agree with all of them, but I’m not sure I said anything they think I said.  🙂

Sam and I had a good laugh on Twitter about starting a conference to rival ReInvent Law called the Slow-Evolving Practice of Law Conference. Although, to be honest, I’m not against the idea of reinventing or disrupting law, in fact, it’s probably going to be the most outrageous and outlandish ideas coming out of ReInvent Law that will eventually be watered down and whittled away until they become the small incremental change that adds up over time. Big ideas most often lead to incremental change, while incremental ideas get swept away.

And I agree with Nina, Disruptive Technology and Innovation absolutely exist! The myth that I refer to in the title is “that you can buy, build, or imagine [a technology] that you can simply drop into your existing workflow and reasonably expect it to disrupt anything other than your existing workflow.” And I stand by that. I draw a distinction between technology that by its very existence will disrupt an industry (which does not exist) and a company that uses such technology to great effect in order to disrupt an industry (which happens all the time). Netflix, and other video streaming services, are the latter and, as Nina rightly states, they are continuing to disrupt other industries like cable television.  But again, it’s the business model that is disruptive, not the delivery mechanism. The delivery mechanism may make the business model possible, but on its own it’s of little additional value. It’s not the technology that’s disruptive, it’s how you use it.

And Steven’s post is fantastic, I went back and reread it three times. There’s some great stuff in there and some fascinating analysis, but my thesis was not that Blockbuster “failed by not responding earlier to Netflix”, but that Blockbuster “had no way to adopt streaming video without completely undermining the rest of their business.” They weren’t willing to undermine the good thing they had going, which was a rational, if ultimately fatal, decision.

When I first published the post on the LexisNexis Future of Law Blog, my good friend Ron Friedmann gave me a hard time on Twitter.

I joked that I couldn’t give everything away for free, but I actually alluded to the answer in the next sentence. “Now is the time to build a legal service delivery engine that can accommodate project management, automation, artificial intelligence, and extreme transparency to clients.” While that is definitely not a comprehensive list of the next great innovations in law, I think it’s fair to say that those four innovations are already happening. And those four innovations all point to one big historical change for the practice of law, process efficiency now matters. 

Maybe I should have said that efficiency is to law what streaming video is to the video rental industry?  I didn’t want say anything that concrete in the last post, because let’s face it, it’s ridiculous. Although, I can’t help but think there’s a parallel between Blockbuster not being able to stream video and remain profitable and some firms not being able to increase efficiency and remain profitable.  After all, profit has been based on inefficiency in law firms for a long time. Technology may be able to help, and some of those technologies could be called potentially disruptive, but technology alone will never make you disruptive, or efficient, or profitable.  I think my original point was something along those lines.  Although to be honest, this has been interpreted in so many different ways, I’m not entirely sure what I meant originally.

Still, I can take some solace in the fact that at the very least my original post made Byron think. And that’s good enough for me.

Sometime over the last weekend, 3 Geeks surpassed 2 Million pageviews.  That either means that 2 Million people have visited our site once and never returned, a whole bunch of you return fairly regularly, or a few of you are completely obsessed with Greg. 

It’s mostly the middle one, but don’t underestimate the Greg Lambert fan club. To a certain demographic, a Lambert sighting is more precious than seeing Elvis hanging with the Beatles at the Loch Ness Monster’s summer place.

In celebration of our 2 Millionth pageview, I thought we’d take a brief walk through a few 3 Geeks Milestones.

  • Toby’s first mention of Alternative Billing: KM in Action

I’ll let the others tell their own stories, if they want to, but I want to share briefly how I came to be a part of this terrific group of people.

I pulled a Jerry Maguire.  My first post, was not written as a blog post, it was a memo to all of IT in my firm.  It was all so clear to me.  I saw the future taking shape and a whole lot of people moving ahead blindly working the same way they always had.  I was always one of the more progressive voices in the firm, but somehow I reached a point where it wasn’t enough to just raise my objections or voice my opinions in meetings. I wasn’t getting through, so I was compelled to put my thoughts in writing and send them out to all interested parties via email.  I included everyone in IT, including the CIO, and I hit send… and waited.

Over the next hour, I imagined all possible responses from “You’re an idiot, stop sending this crap.” to “You’re fired, get out.” But there was no response.  Nothing. Nada. No emails. No phone calls. My message had once again gotten lost in the ether.  I decided it was time to move on. After all, if I think this job is going away, I might as well go find something else to do.

Then the phone rang.  It was Scott Preston, the CIO.  Hours seemed to pass from one ring to the next as I debated whether to answer.  Was I in trouble? Would he be angry? Was he calling to say HR was on their way to my office with security?

I picked up the handset cautiously.  “Hello?”

“Ryan!  Hey, it’s Scott. Listen, I think that piece you wrote is really great.  I’ve got some friends who publish this blog thing.  Would you mind if we posted this?”

And the rest, as they say, is history.  Thank you, Scott.  And thank you Greg, Toby, and Lisa, for letting me crash your little party.

On behalf of all four of the 3 Geeks, and all of our guest bloggers over the years, to everyone who habitually reads the drivel we shovel out, a heartfelt and very sincere

THANK YOU!

We could not have done it without you!

This post originally appeared on the HighQ Solutions blog.

I
was in London last week and some colleagues and I were discussing blogging.
One asked a very pointed question: How do you get people to comment on a
blog post?  The short answers is, you don’t.  You never will.
Occasionally, when the stars align and you’ve written a brilliant post
on a hot topic, then and only then, you will get a comment or two.  But
even then, it is very likely that at least one of those comments will be
correcting your grammar.

When I attend conferences there are
always a handful of people that come up to me and say they read and
enjoy my blog.  About half of the time they will follow with a
discussion about something I have written in the last few months.  These
are the comments that people don’t leave on the website.  At first, I
was bothered by this.  I thought, “Well, why didn’t you just say that
when I wrote it?”  But I’ve come to think of blogging as starting a
conversation with whole group of people, many of whom I have never met. 
Some of those people will continue that conversation with other people
they know.  Some of them will run into me at a conference and will
continue the conversation with me directly.  And some of them will only
continue the conversation silently in their own heads. I have come to
see any continuation of a conversation that I start as a sign of a
successful blog post.

But still there is the question of how
to write a blog post that interests people and gets them to continue
that conversation? There is no short answer here, but I have a few tips:

  • Forget about any other kind of
    writing you do.
      Blogging is not journalism, it’s not letter writing,
    and it’s certainly not legal writing.  In fact, I would argue, blogging
    is less like any other kind of writing and more like speech.  Write the
    way you speak, without the “ums” and pauses, of course.
  • Read your finished posts aloud. This
    engages a completely different part of your brain and you will find that
    you stumble over words and phrases when speaking aloud that didn’t
    trouble you when you were reading silently to yourself.  These are the
    areas to rework.
  • When you rework your post, make
    clarity of purpose your only concern.
    You will find that otherwise
    unacceptable punctuation, grammar, spelling, and formatting sometimes
    gets your point across more succinctly than writing “correctly” does. 
    Go with it.
  • Be personable. Remember, this is a conversation. Nobody wants to talk to a boring person, no matter how interesting the subject.
  • You are not reporting the news.  This
    is a big one for external facing law blogs to remember. If you are
    reporting content that you found on Lexis or the New York Times, then
    chances are your audience has already read it somewhere else, written by
    someone who actually writes for a living. Why compete with
    professionals? Link to those other articles for the details and instead
    write about your take on the subject. 
  • If you are funny, use it.  If you are
    not, please don’t.
      When using sarcasm or satire, always make it very
    clear. I don’t care how obvious it is to you, someone will not get it
    and that can be very dangerous. Make sure Sarcasm or Satire are included
    in the Tags on your post when you use them.
  • Be provocative.  Never lie, or argue
    against your actual position (unless doing satire – see above), but it
    doesn’t hurt to take a slightly stronger stance than you would
    otherwise. Nothing gets attention like a bold statement confidently
    made.
  • Don’t forget to use the title. Only
    on a personal blog can you choose your own title, usually you have an
    editor giving your post some boring title that YOU wouldn’t even click on. The
    title should get your audience’s attention, but it also creates a frame
    that sets up their expectations.  Use those expectations to your
    advantage, make people see things differently than they expect from your
    title.
  • Choose topics that bother you. 
    Things that happen, that surprise or upset you; things that you find
    yourself day dreaming about at inopportune times; ideas that get stuck
    in your head; these are the best topics, because they will also get
    stuck in the heads of your readers.
  • Publish immediately.  When you feel you have your ideas down, publish.  Do not sleep on it.  Do not wait to see what you think the next day.  You will hate it.  You will see every flaw and error.  If you wait, you will never publish.  If you cannot publish, or you are not done by the end of your writing session, then start over from scratch the next day and publish as soon as you’re done.
  • Don’t write too much.  You do not
    have to be comprehensive. Set up the conversation.  Throw out a few
    points to think about and then let it go. Remember, you want to start a
    conversation, not finish it.  (This post is already too long and chances
    are good that you haven’t actually read this far.)
  • Leave the audience with a rhetorical
    question, a bold statement, or a thoughtful turn of phrase. 
    Give them
    something short and concrete that summarizes your post. Find a phrase
    that sticks in your mind and it will stick in theirs too.

Which
leads me back to the issue of comments. After writing a blog for about
three years, I think I now understand why my favorite posts, the ones
I’m most proud of, are the least likely to get comments.  I think it is
precisely because they make people think.  Readers are left with an idea
that is new to them.  It is probably an idea that I have spent days or weeks
formulating, and I’ve just dropped it on an unsuspecting public.  If I
have expressed myself well, and gotten my ideas across, then the readers
too will have to sit and mull over my ideas for a while.  By the time
they realize they have something to say on the subject, they are no
longer on the page, or near a computer.  They may not even remember
where the original idea came from. But when they see me at a conference,
or a seminar, or on a train, or waiting in line for a bathroom, that’s
when they will come up and say, “I read your blog.”  And then our
conversation – the one that I began writing by myself, weeks or months
earlier – will continue, as if we were old friends who had simply paused
for a moment.