Lawyers have a reputation as technology laggards. But the legal profession was actually among the early adopters of blogging, and more than a decade later, blogging is an important part of many legal professionals’ toolkit.
As blogging has become a standard feature on most legal websites, ACEDS convened a panel of some of the industry’s leading bloggers to talk about how to use blogs and social media in today’s world. The Law Student Blogger and Social Media Seminar was held Monday, April 18 at the ACEDS E-Discovery Conference and Exhibition to address the needs of young lawyers, law students, and the next generation of legal professionals in order to network and advance their careers.
Tom O’Connor, a blogger and Senior E-Discovery Consultant at Advanced Discovery who attended the panel, is concerned that many litigation professionals do not see blogging as a business development tool. “People say to me, ‘Tom, it’s great you’re a thought leader, but how does it drive business to your company?’” he says. “Some people still see blogging as a hobby and not a serious activity.”
According to the panel, the primary reason to blog is that it gives the author a platform that raises them above their non-blogging peers. Doug Austin has been blogging for more than 5 years with almost 1,400 posts at ediscoverydaily.com, which is the blog for e-discovery vendor CloudNine Discovery. He says the site has 1,600 daily subscribers and has added a monthly subscription, which has attracted over 6,000 followers. “When I started, our company had just changed its name, so we literally had no brand recognition,” he says. “I can’t tell you how many relationships we’ve developed that came directly from people approaching us because they read the blog.”
Of course, social media has fundamentally changed the way people market themselves online. Rob Robinson, the panel moderator (who also writes content for CloudNine) says that social media has extended the reach of bloggers. “If you look at social media from a business perspective, you take online relationships and move them offline,” he says. “If you look at automated marketing platforms, you can find out who follows you that is in your industry, and you find ways to turn those contacts into relationships.”
Panelist Robin Thompson, the Vice-President of Marketing for BIA, says blogging remains one of the most successful types of branded content for her company in the marketplace. “About 60 days ago I had a decision maker with a major hospital send me an in mail and said they had been reading my content and reached out to me as someone who could help her build out her in house e-discovery department,” she says. “So it came back to us as revenue for data mapping and processing and things like that.”
Ari Kaplan, who blogs at http://www.reinventingprofessionals.com says the first reason to blog is to communicate with peers and establish yourself as an expert. Unlike Thompson, he prefers a more direct approach to blogging. “I use the blog to reach out to specific people I want to build a relationship with,” he says. “For example, I might reach out to you and say I want to interview you for my blog. It’s a surprisingly effective way to connect to the right people no matter how small or big your platform is.”
The panel agreed that for young lawyers or law students, blogging is an inexpensive and effective way to raise their profile above their peers who have no online presence. But above everything, the panelists say that to succeed, authors need to have an authentic, identifiable voice. They recommend not following trends or trending topics, but writing about things that genuinely interest the author of any blog. “At the end of the day, your core, or center of gravity, is important,” says Robinson. “You will be much more effective if you don’t just try to chase followers. I can do a post now and throw in a buzzword that will get traffic, but does that form a relationship? Not often.”
But above all, Kaplan says if someone commits to blogging they have to commit to publishing regularly. He says that if he goes more than a week or more between posts, it becomes difficult to reengage with the practice. “I always try to remember this is a vehicle to get people to take my call,” he says. “I care that someone will find value in me talking to them, which means I have to I really commit to not letting this go.”
Ari Kaplan blogs at http://www.reinventingprofessionals.com and is the author of the books Reinventing Professional Services: Building Your Business in the Digital Marketplace, and The Opportunity Maker: Strategies for Inspiring Your Legal Career Through Creative Networking and Business Development.
Doug Austin is the Vice President of Professional Services for CloudNine and is the editor of the eDiscovery Daily blog. Since its inception in 2010, eDiscovery Daily has published over 1,350-lifetime posts regarding eDiscovery case law, trends and best practices, which has included case law for over 300 unique cases.
Robin Athlyn Thompson was awarded the ACEDS Lifetime Achievement award in 2015 for her dedication and commitment to advancing education and certification in the e-discovery industry. As the Vice-President of Marketing for BIA, she is responsible for its marketing initiatives, and is creator and producer of BIA’s Knowledge Leadership Series.
Moderator Rob Robinson is a Managing Partner at CloudNine and writes and regularly posts on technology and marketing topics on the ComplexDiscovery.com blog, in Weekly eDiscovery newsletter updates, and on Twitter @ComplexD.
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