Monday, January 28, 2013
Monday, January 21, 2013
Monday, January 14, 2013
1) Write consistenly. The single biggest mistake made by law firms (especially solo and mid-size attorneys) is failing to write enough. It is not acceptable to crank out a single post every month or every other month. At the very least, one post a week is needed so that your blog becomes a weekly destination for some and triggers search engines to identify new content connected to your name frequently. There are two main ways to write more often: hire others or set a schedule. No matter what it takes, just do it.
2) Write sufficiently. Writing weekly (or daily) is always the goal. However, it only counts if the individual post is of sufficient length and quality. Writing three sentences with a link to a court opinion does not quite cut it. Instead, the posts need to be 450-600 words. When commenting on a court opinion, there needs to be a layman's summary of the case with perhaps inclusion of outside perspectives and details on the long-term implications. In other words, value to the reader needs to be provided. If the whole purpose of the post is to send people elsewhere via a link and short paragraph, then you will not see benefit.
3) Stop overdoing the links. If there was a single difference that you should make in your legal blogging in 2013 and compared to 2012, it is the way you approach links. A year ago, many SEO advocates continued to push to idea that a firm needed to have many "Goldilocks" keyword phrases (i.e. Miami car accident attorney") and link those phrases to set pages on the firm website. No more. That sort of overt spamming simply does not work. And it will begin to cause actual harm to your SEO efforts the longer you drag them out. This is actually good news, because is means that more natural writing is now more beneficial writing. Talk with blog writing professionals on the specifics of linking in 2013, but never forget that the overt link-baiting is a thing of the past.
4) Stop writing briefs. The best legal blog writing threads the needle between writing mundane dense material and that which does not project expertise. In other words, the tone of the best legal blogs is light and understandable to all community members. Yet, it still must share useful legal information and ensure readers understand that the attorney is familiar with the law.
5) View the blog as a library. Wherever possible, the blog should be a comprehensive package of information, not isolated articles. In other words, you should cross reference old posts where applicable and build on material that has already been published. This encourages readers to delve into your archives, often getting lost in old posts that provie a wealth of information on any given topic. All of this makes for great SEO and better conversion rates for potential clients who stumble upon the blog.
Monday, January 7, 2013
This month's edition of the ABA Journal pointed to a story that likely caught the eye of most legal bloggers--if they hadn't seen it already. The article suggests that the matter was definitely decided, but that is misleading, as the legal battle continues.
The issue first made headlines last October when the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals out of New Orleans issued a ruling on a unique case involving a domain name for a legal blog. Essentially, a worker's compensation lawyer was sent a cease and desist letter from the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) because we owned and blogged on legal developments in the area at the domain name: www.TexasWorkersCompLaw.com. The TDI claimed that state law prohibited the attorney from using the state department's name and purview. Amazingly, the department threatened to hit the man with a $5,000 daily fine for using the words "Texas," "worker's," and "compensation" in any order on any marketing or promotional efforts.
This obviously seems egregious, and fortunately the attorney stood his grounds. Filing suit and claiming violations of the 1st, 5th, and 14th Amendments, he argued that the blog was merely informational and that if applied in this manner the state law violated his basic free speech rights.
In October of this year the federal appeals court ruled on an appeal of the matter after it was dismissed by a district court for failure to state a claim. Fortunately, the Court sided with the attorney and noted that the state made no attempt to show how this law was narrowly tailored to meet a substantial state interest. The matter was revived and the case will seemingly proceed, though information on its current status remains elusive.
A full copy of the court opinion can be Downloaded Here.
This case is obviously one of significant importance to everyone in the legal world, as sharing information with others online is virtually universal. In the years and decades ahead it will obviously be second-nature for all firms to use predominately online tools for communication, education, and information-sharing. This particular legal case includes a few complex issues of intellectual property, free speech, and equal protection. However, at the end of the day, it is hard to imagine how courts will disallow use of basic words like "worker's compensation" and a state name for those who provide support services for residents. Obviously there is a difference between using those words and actively masquerading as a representative of a state agency. The law in question was obviously intended to prevent the latter, and it won't be too difficult for the court to make assessments about whether that decepetion was at issue in this particular case.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
***If you do nothing different, you'll get nothing different. Too many of us are not 100% satisfied with our business or operations, yet we do little to change anything. We often fall for the trap that things will change on their own. They likely won't. In virtually all cases trying something new, anything new, is better than the status quo. Commit to a spirit of trying something novel this year.
***Being efficient is better than being busy. As attorneys we always have more things that we "could" do or "wish we could" do than time to do it. There will never be time and physical energy to fit in all of our "to do's" in any day. Selection matters. Doing what is most important is far more valuable than just filling time. Yet, so many of us continue to think all tasks are of equal value--or least our actions suggest we believe that. Instead, we should prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. Do what matter most first. Delegate properly. And do not be afraid to cut out things that serve no purpose.
***Let go of complete control. It's a trait that lawyers have in abundance: the need to control all aspects of their situation. That is most true for solos and attorneys in medium sized firms. You've spent so much time building your practice that it can be very difficult to hand over any aspect, no matter how small, to another. But the need to control and micromanage can act as a tight constriction on a business's ability to grow. One person (or a small group of people) can only do so much. Knowing when to let others in and giving them the space to work for you may be the best decision you make this year.
Here's to all of us having a terrific 2013. Buckle up and hit the road.