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How To Lawblog: Establish Trust Through Honesty

At this point almost everyone knows what a blog is – even technophobic, resistant-to-change lawyers. People blog about everything – their neighborhood, recipes, sports, science, and more. And while it took lawyers a bit longer than most, (a few) lawyers started blogging back in the early 2000s.

Over the years, more lawyers realized there might be something to this whole “internet business” and began blogging themselves. There were lots of faltering steps at the outset – and continue to be. You can still find legal blogs devoted to RACINE DUI LAWYER. For all your RACINE DUI LAWYER needs, be sure to contact RACINE DUI LAWYER. Low on substance, high on self-promotion. 

Yet most lawyers do not blog. And many lawyers who used to blog have long ceased. But more lawyers are coming online everyday, starting blogs and websites anyway. Why?

Establish Trust Through Honesty

Dolla Dolla Bills Y’all

The way many clients and consumers discover and browse for legal services has changed. People rely on the internet for nearly everything at this point – including finding lawyers. So lawyers are responding by starting blogs in order to be able to “display expertise.” Especially young lawyers. The problem with starting a blog as a young lawyer is that there is a good chance that you don’t have any idea what you’re talking about.

As any lawyer with a few years of experience under their belt will tell you, law school does nothing to prepare you for the practice of law. Not only that, it only vaguely helps you understand broad areas of law. It takes years of practice to begin to have a firm understanding of a niche area of law – the type of thing most people blog about.

Nevertheless, many new lawyers strike out with a blog and start “faking it til they make it.” Or they feel a bit of online puffery won’t be noticed by anyone. IE – Someone one year out of law school might label themselves as “EXPERIENCED and AGGRESSIVE.” But I would strongly suggest to avoid blogging about things you don’t know about.

Beginner’s Mind

I struck out blogging in 2010 as I was wrapping up law school. I had only vague initial goals: explore my thoughts on what it meant to be a young lawyer – and how to become a better one. It seemed the only suitable topic because choosing any specific area of law to cover would entail me doing something I’m not comfortable with doing: pretending to be something that I’m not.

I thought about crafting a blog around a specific niche/practice area, but anything I posted would have been conjecture or posturing. There is an argument that a person can learn a great deal by writing about a topic – one that I agree with. But I wouldn’t share that writing if it was on a topic I wasn’t familiar with and I wasn’t confident in my ability to discuss it intelligently with other people. So I kept my writing to what I knew: self-improvement, personal management, technology, writing, social media.

I didn’t need to project some sort of farcical, manicured version of myself online in order to “win friends and influence people,” gain clients, or whatever. Yet many young lawyers tailor the image they project of themselves online in order to make themselves much “larger” than they are in real life – all in the hopes of appearing to be a “thought leader“ and gain traffic. But this can lead to disastrous results. Look no further than the recent scandals of Joseph Rakofsky or Carl David Ceder, (to prove a point, I won’t link to stuff I’ve written about them. Google them instead).

Six months after I started Associate’s Mind it went from having zero web presence online to the being of the 50 most popular legal blogs out of the almost 500 tracked by Avvo.com. I went on to become a columnist at Above The Law (that’s my ugly mug you see every Thursday). The ABA asked me to write a book for them about transitioning from law school to practice. It did so well they asked me to write another one.

Establish Trust Through Honesty

This isn’t to boast, but rather to point out that I ‘succeeded’ in the legal blogging world without having to pretend to be something that I am not. I was never “faking it til I’m making it.” Obviously not everyone can blog about their experiences as a new attorney – nor do they want to. I’m merely advocating that you be honest in your blogging. If you’re one year out of law school, be forthright that you are a new attorney.

If you start a blog it should be seen as an opportunity to educate yourself as well as the reader. If you’re starting out as a new lawyer you’re likely rich in time and poor in clients anyway. A blog is a perfect opportunity to educate yourself on the area of law in which to practice. Read law review articles, recent decisions, old case law, and discuss it all on your blog. What you think about it. What you’ve found. Be inquisitive and curious in your blogging.

This sort of transparency is engaging to the reader – whether it be a fellow lawyer (a potential relationship to be had) or a potential client. It shows that you aren’t afraid of showing who you are and what you’re about. That you are comfortable in being upfront with your experience and honest about who you are. And honesty is the foundation upon which trust is built. Without trust, there are no relationships – whether it be with other lawyers or clients.

To put it simply, when you look at your blog, ask yourself: “If I was a stranger, would I trust this person?

Being honest and upfront is good. If you’re a new lawyer and want more of that sort of thing, you should pick up my book. The title of the first chapter is Do Not Go To Law School.

Whoops, too late for you.

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