Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Lawyers and Weblogs

For about a year and a half, Evan Schaeffer, a tort lawyer in Illinois, has written a blog called "Notes from the Legal Underground." He gently pokes fun at the legal profession, talks about what it's like to be a lawyer, talks about other weblogs, and has consistently come up with fresh ideas for how to take advantage of the weblog form -- weekly features, recurring post types, guest bloggers, podcasts. His weblog's a good read, if you care about lawyers.

But he's tearing it up and starting from scratch. Over the weekend, he posted a podcast talking about how while the conventional wisdom in the blogosphere has been that having a weblog helps a lawyer, because it gets their name out there, can demonstrate an expertise, can lead to referrals... Evan now thinks the conventional wisdom is wrong. He thinks having a weblog like his can hurt a lawyer, because clients wonder why their lawyer is spending so much time posting to a weblog instead of working on their cases. And potential clients may take having a frequently-updated weblog as a sign that the lawyer doesn't have much else to do.

Thought-provoking. Sounds like it makes sense, but also sounds pretty stupid. If you found out your lawyer played golf a lot, it probably wouldn't register as a negative. And weblogs take less time to update than people think. If I were a potential client, Evan's weblog establishes him as someone who thinks well and can write well. This is a plus. Perhaps it also indicates his interests go beyond practicing law. I'm not sure this is a bad thing. Then again, I'd be a lousy potential client.

I think the bigger problem is even thinking about weblogs in terms of generating business. I'm not sure that should really be the point. I feel like too much is said about blogs as unique or revolutionary, or somehow changing things. Blogs in and of themselves aren't much of anything. It's the content that matters. It's just another way of getting content out there. Having a blog isn't going to generate business. Content could. The blog is just how to structure that content.

I hope Evan finds a way to exercise his creative muscles while not feeling like he's damaging his law firm. It would be shame if he can't.