"What do blogs do?"
"What benefits can I get from a blog?"
"What do I write on my blog?"
..there are not a single set of right answers.
Sometimes those of us who spend too much time thinking about law firm blogs make it seem like there are very simple finite answer to these (and a thousand other) questions about legal blogging. We often assume that we know the best answers to these answers, and so we give clear answers as if they were absolute.
Here's a secret...there are not absolute answers.
A lawyer who is thinking about blogging must realize that there are MANY different types of blogs. Anyone who tells you otherwise is pigeon-holing the medium. In general, the basic idea of a blog is not complicated--it is an online space where constant, time-stamped content can be added and shared with the public in a running, easy to read way. It is a diary, journal, newsletter, thought-stream, article database, and many other things.
From the legal perspective our law firm blog writers often find it helpful to identify the difference between "Lawyer Blogs" and "Law Firm Blogs." These are two different ideas, and provide different potential benefits. It is important to consider the distinction when planning how to best use these online spaces in your own practice. Some legal marketing gurus even forget to distinguish between these two. Instead, they often write of one type of legal blog, claiming that anything else is not following best practices.
We disagree. Lawyer Blogs and Law Firm Blogs can often complement each other.
So what is the difference?
Lawyer Blogs are focused much more on the personality of the individual attorney whose name is stamped all over the blog. These types of blogs are often less effective to have law blog ghostwriters, because no matter how good the ghostwriter, they can never fully mimic the style/interests/flair/personality of the attorney. Lawyer Blogs are much more focused on the personal quirks of an individual attorney, showcasing their likes, dislikes, opinions, and role within the legal community.
Law Firm Blogs are different. They are better thought of as a public resource provided by the firm itself. They are more often directed at the general public, whereas Lawyer Blogs are often geared toward other attorneys or opinion leaders in a particular field. Law Firm Blogs are about a community and the sharing/curating of information. While a Lawyer Blog might analyze the legal issues of a new Supreme Court case in depth, a Law Firm blog would mention the case and explain to community members whether the case has any real implications for regular situations or if it is mostly intricate legal details. Legal ghostwriters are often quite helpful with Law Firm Blogs because they involve more basic concepts of identifying issues in a community, sharing basic legal knowledge, and acting as a general legal resource (not a reservoir of an individual attorney's personality).
Both Lawyer Blogs and Law Firm Blogs can be immensely useful for attorneys and their firms. Lawyer Blogs are best to engage with opinion leaders, get news media attention, and perhaps build up strong referral systems. Law Firm Blogs are better at engaging directly with the public, helping in certain search engine optimization efforts, and becoming a go-to stop for local community members in need of legal help.
Many firms can benefit from both types of blogs. Posts can be mixed OR two different actual blogs can be used.
Anyone who sells you on ONE type over the other is being short-sighted.