Monday, 10 June 2013

Understanding Legal Blogging

Understanding legal blogging

As Andrew Sullivan said in his essay 'Why I Blog', the blog is the new literary form of our age. And as Matt Mullenweg, the creator of the ubiquitous blogging platform WordPress said: blogging has given 'equality of access' and therefore utterly utterly democratised the ability to publish. Everyone now has a soapbox and a real voice that can reach a global audience. Matt said:
"Before the widespread rise of the Internet and easy publishing tools, influence was largely in the hands of those who could reach the widest audience, the people with printing presses or access to a wide audience on television or radio, all one-way mediums that concentrated power in the hands of the few."
The same applies to lawyers. Lawyer can use the new form to give expression to their ability and expertise. By doing so they can build an audience, a following and a reputation as the go to authority on a given matter. Nowadays it's not enough for a lawyer or law firms just to carry on with their affairs in the offline world, they need to get online and carve out a space in the online world. And a blog is at the heart of this.

As Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog said:
'A lawyer's home base on the web is their blog.'
However as Charles Christian has said before, lawyer struggle with blogging because flatly, they mistake the form. As Charles Christian said:
"Faced with a writing project of any sort, the lawyer (or their marketing department/business development or KM team) goes into Law School mode and begins planning out a blog posting of such length and complexity that it would impress a Supreme Court judge."
Laywers blog in really dense, flabby, circular prose. The type of writing you see in legal academia. However the man and woman on the street isn't going to read this.

How should lawyers blog? Lawyer's need to write their blog posts the way they talk. Andrew Sullivan rightly said in this Atlantic piece, 'Why I Blog' that the 16th century French essayist Michel Montaigne is "the quinessential blogger".

As did Sarah Bakewell as noted in the New York Times. She said:

As Slate Magazine staffer said, research has proven that short, snappy writing is the key to blog posts.

Seth Godin put it well in his interview with copyblogger. When asked if he ever gets writer's block, Seth said of his take on blogging [emphases are mine]:
"This [writer's block] is a fancy term for fear. I avoid it by not getting it. Because I write like I talk and I don’t get talker’s block."
Fellow Slate Magazine staffer, Matt Yglesias perhaps best caught the essence of what blogging is all about in a panel discussion available here. He said:
"Blogging is an iterative discovery process."

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