How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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I listened to your podcast. You addressed the negative side when it comes to an attorney and her blog. You said that 'potential clients' may not be coming in via the blog.

I see a blog as having value from one attorney to another attorney in a particular area of the law. You handle PI cases. Someone in FL (my home state) may search for a PI attorney in yours, and perhaps in Google find you first. I see your blog as being well written, timely information. Will I pick up the phone and call you? Or do I take a chance by going to lawyers.com and typing in injury?

In the old web boom, I see blogs potentially having value as a "B2B" proposition, not a B2C one.

I suppose that captive counsel with a blog won't expect to drum up work via a blog. Perhaps a sole practioner or small firm that handles Estate Law could have drawn interest by blogging during the Shiavo wall to wall coverage. I would guess that tech and IP counsel in areas may as well.

Don't forget both side when addressing the issue. I am guessing that very little 'bidness' will come in to your office from people hurt in car wrecks, or med mal, for that matter.


Mk: Most of my business comes from other lawyers who refer me cases. Given my practice is set up like this, is it possible to use my weblog to market to other lawyers? And do I care?

First answer: Yes, it's possible to use a weblog for marketing. One method: a weblog gets your name to the top of a search engines, where newspaper reporters see it and then call and quote you. This has happened to me a number of times. Attention by the mainstream press helps with lawyer-to-lawyer marketing.

Second answer: I don't really care too much about using this weblog or my others for marketing. Marketing is only one of many purposes for my weblogs, and it's a small purpose. For many reasons, it doesn't concern me very much if I don't get business from my weblogs.

But there's a larger concern: what if a weblog has a negative marketing effect for a lawyer? What if weblogs drive away business? That would concern me.

One reason it might happen: Weblogs seem very complicated to those who don't know much about them--most lawyers, say. Weblogs seem like they take more time than they actually do. That explains why lawyers might draw the conclusion that a lawyer with a weblog must not be very busy or very successful.

But do they draw this conclusion? Yes, most certainly. It's why I'm probably going to revamp this weblog from the ground up. I wasn't messing around with this podcast. I was serious.



I don't know that you should change it. As a small town lawyer who has a decent size PI practice, this format is exactly what would lead me to refer cases to you. It's informative in a way that is engaging, rather than the typical "Has received multiple jury verdicts, such as..." which you typically see. I think plaintiff's lawyers, who are presumably your potential referees (sp?) appreciate the style as most of them are somewhat unconventional. You have to be to give up the security of hourly work. The only ones who are going to worry about the time you spend on this are those wedded to the billable hour and are attempting to determine the dollar value of each word typed.

Of course, I haven't seen your new format, which may be even better.

But I have to confess, I think this blog is one of the best on the net, and after checking the Razorback sports sites, is the first place I go in the morning.

OK, sss-kissing over. I think I'll go mess with Ted "Unintentional Comedian" Frank some more.


I recently posted some thoughts about lawyer websites and "blawgs", which (as an homage to the popularity of my blog) generated no comments. I don't market through a blog, so what do I care? ;-)

Actually, Matt's comments about Ted Frank tie into this discussion quite well. If your goal is to do something other than to directly promote your legal practice, be it to promote yourself, a product or online service you are marketing, or to generate traffic (e.g., for the purpose of generating ad revenue on the blog or on a different site), a weblog can do you proud.

I'm not sure how many people won't take a lawyer seriously because the lawyer has a weblog. If the question is about clients finding a practice through a weblog, even if some won't click past the weblog to a firm, some will - and they're clients you presumably won't find without the blog. Ted's use of blogging probably helped him transition out of his former legal practice and into his present role as an advocate for our nation's chambers of commerce and insurance companies, qua "tort reformer". Various law professors have gained public prominence (of a sort) through blogging. But if lawyers who might otherwise refer you cases stop referring them because of the blog - a potential problem I have not previously heard described - that's a legitimate concern.


Matt: Thanks for your kind words. Again, however, I never expected this weblog to generate a lot of business from other lawyers, and that's fine--I have plenty of cases in the pipeline, and there are other purposes that make the weblog worthwhile, e.g., putting out my stance on tort reform.

With that said, I do care about my professional reputation among my peers. The thing that concerns me is that the weblog could have (or is having) a negative impact. "I've got these 250 Bextra cases to refer out," some lawyer might be thinking, "and I know about that guy with the weblog and, through the grapevine, his successes with other mass torts, which I knew about long before his weblog--but gosh, now that I find him so entertaining, it's hard to take him seriously as a mass-tort lawyer. So I'm going to have a beer with him--can't wait!--but in the meantime, I'm sending my Bextra cases to that powerhouse in Texas."

I don't like that sort of thinking. One thing I could do is talk more about my successes. The risk is that I'll end up offending many of the people who were reading this weblog (no one likes to hear a plaintiff's lawyer brag), which diminishes the weblog's reach and defeats its whole purpose. I think I know how to do it without this risk, by means of memoir-type posts that are set in the past and in which I'm only a sideline character. I've made veiled references on this weblog to the story line these posts would focus on--a true story--but I haven't started posting about it yet. I'm not sure I ever will. But I've got the permission of the main participants, so maybe I should.

Aaron: Thanks for your long comment too. Ted Frank's experience at Overlawyered is probably a very good example of the positive effect a weblog can have on a career. I don't know the specific role Overlawyered played in Ted's new job, but it probably played a large role. Similarly, with me, the opportunity to write the book I'm doing for James Publishing wouldn't have happened without the weblog.

The main problem with weblogs is that they are perceived to take a lot of time. (Look at me now, interrupting my "real work" to post this comment--though in fact, I'm doing it when I would normally be eating lunch.) I think if a weblog gives the impression that it's taking a lot of time, then it can have a negative effect on how others view the weblogger profesionally. Not surprisingly, this negative effect is something that blogging evangelists--and I count myself in that group--don't talk about. I decided to talk about it.

In the meantime, I'm going to change some things about this weblog. I plan to do it publicly--explain what I'm changing, and why. A lot of my content might end up moving over to the Illinois Trial Practice Weblog, which is my more "professional" face. My posts might get shorter. The "creative" stuff might show up in other formats, rather than being put out on this weblog in "real time." (If I published a book of essays or a novel, people would just think I'd been working on it over the past few years, and wouldn't worry about its impact on my day-to-day professional time. But if I publish them here, people wonder what I was doing the day before.)

I'm not exactly sure what I'll change, although I know that as of today, this weblog is going to come to an abrupt halt. I'll then rebuild it from the ground up with a different type of content now that I know a little more about what effect having a (fairly popular) weblog has on my public image. It will probably end up being a retooling, not an abandonment--Legal Underground Version 2.0, something like that. If people quit reading, so be it.


I understand your concern. I will abandon my blog when I graduate from law school for the similar reasons, though I do love keeping it.

I'll miss your blog, though.


It's a good discussion. FWIW, I don't care what lawyers who won't take fifteen minutes to learn something new care. A friend laughed at the idea that blogging would hurt his reputation. "Keep winning cases, and you'll have more clients than you know what to do with. But when the phone keeps ringing off the hook, you might regret getting what you wished for."

Plus, there's a younger generation to think about. Those of us growing up on blogs might think less of people without one. I know that it's unlikely I'd work for a firm that did anything but encourage my blogging. Is that wrong of me? Nope. Those who lack the vision to see the future of blogging probably lack the vision to work up cases and to creatively plead and litigate the way I've been trained to. So they can take a hike.

Still, I think that the proper format should be about 85% useful information with about 15% look-at-me/off-topic stuff. By consistently publishing professional materials, you showcase your talents. But publishing the occasional personal post, you demonstrate your personality. You become a useful source of information - with a face.

So while I (regretfully) agree with Evan's decision to change things, I encourage him not to change so much that we wind up asking ...

Why is Evan so stuffy?


Your tagline says that this is the weblog that asks the question: Why are lawyers so stuffy?

You're answering it: Because that's how they make money. If they show a humorous or human side, they lose business. What an aweome profession!


AmbImb, I don't think it's just the profession of law. I think it's all of us, and by us I mean human beings.

Did you see the post I did (a long time ago) about the repeated studies that demonstrated that people in general -- all American adults, when taken in statistical samples -- rated women who had children as markedly less intelligent than almost any other group? That perception is incredibly deeply ingrained and has little to do with law as a profession in general. It's why my blog is pseudo-anonymous, and why I'll stop it when I start work: because a blog in which I talk about my kid will hurt my business and thus hurt my kid. Sad, but true.

I suspect a similar problem exists for any professional occupation based on expertise. Humans do not like to see their experts as fallable. A blog that talks about things other than strictly professional matters humanizes the expert in ways that many of us do not want to see. Oh, we might claim we do, but we lie. I bet that if the same study that was done for mothers was repeated for professionals based on what we know of their personal lives, the more we know about them as people outside the office, the less, on average, we'd rate their intelligence. We, as humans, crave, like, and pay for mystique.

I'm very sorry to see Evan change his blog, but I completely understand why.

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