Like many other professionals, there are plenty of lawyers who wonder if they should start a blog? And if so, to what end? I took the leap in June of 2016. I enjoy writing and had some ideas for topics to write about where there appeared to be a gap in the market. But in order to answer broader questions about blogging in the legal sphere and whether one should (or should not) consider it, I wanted to consult someone who’s been at it a great deal longer than I.
Keith Lee is an attorney practicing in Birmingham, Alabama. He is the founder of Associate’s Mind, the law blog dedicated to helping lawyers make the transition from amateur to professional, law school student to attorney. Keith has developed a platform with broad reach and interesting connections with legal professionals across the country. The content on Associate’s Mind ranges from practical legal advice for young lawyers (Career Planning for Associates) to lawsuits arising out of an assault using Twitter.
Having met Keith a few months ago, I want to ask him questions about blogging, establishing a platform, and some of the benefits and pitfalls in doing so.
Here’s my interview with Keith Lee of Associate’s Mind:
JWR: It’s my understanding you started Associate’s Mind early on in your practice. Was that your first experience with blogging?
KL: I actually started Associate’s Mind during my final year of law school, which may not have been the best idea. My first time blogging was actually way back in 2001, before most people even knew what a blog was. Thankfully, it’s not online anymore.
JWR: Why was it important to you to start a law blog?
KL: It was a means to differentiate myself from other graduates. I graduated in 2010 when the legal industry was in the midst of huge upheaval. Plus I enjoyed writing and this was a way to force myself to do it in public.
JWR: What were your goals when you started Associate’s Mind?
KL: Goals make it sound like I knew what I was doing when I started the thing. I was completely winging it as I went along. Mostly I just wanted to talk about the process of becoming a new lawyer. How could I be a good associate? What was going on in the legal industry that new lawyers should pay attention to?
JWR: What are some of your goals for Associate’s Mind now that it’s been around for six years and is an established brand?
KL: My goals at the moment are for it to continue to grow. I want the community aspect (Lawyer Slack) to continue to expand as well, but not too much that it becomes overwhelming. I’m also in process of building out an educational/professional development training systems that should be available later this year.
JWR: How has your law blog affected your practice?
KL: It’s certainly raised my profile in a way that would not have been possible without it. And as a lawyer raises their profile, they raise the firm’s profile. It’s led to speaking engagements, board positions, clients and more.
JWR: What opportunities, unrelated to your law practice, have come to you as a result of blogging?
KL: The biggest opportunity has been the ability to cultivate relationships with lawyers around the country and the world. I’ve been fortunate to develop relationships with lawyers through blogging. After interacting online for years, it’s been great to meet with lawyers at conferences and other events around the country. Dinners, coffee, drinks, etc.
More recently I’ve been pleased with the development of Lawyer Slack. There are around 250 lawyers in there, all sharing and talking about practice, news, politics, etc. I’ve been very fortunate to have created a place where lawyers want to come spend time and exchange information.
JWR: What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting a law blog?
KL: Just do it. Lawyers often fall into a paralysis by analysis when doing something new or outside of the box. The thing is when you start a new blog, no one is going to read it. It’s going to languish in obscurity for awhile. It’s also likely going to be awful. It takes time to develop your “blog voice.” So the sooner you get to doing it, the better.
That being said, unless you are a writer, you should probably skip blogging. You have to want to get up and write on a regular basis. If that doesn’t sound fun to you, then avoid blogging.
JWR: How would you respond to lawyers who are skeptical about or opposed to blogging?
KL: Some of their skepticism is probably warranted. Lawyers need to keep their clients in mind when addressing topics. Blogs can also generate negative attention if you’re not careful. That being said, I’ve found the benefits to far outweigh the negatives I’ve encountered.
JWR: What is one piece of practical advice that law bloggers should consider?
KL: Develop thick skin. Be prepared for people to try and tear your ideas down. Others will make fun of what you’re doing. You’ll likely experience ad hominem remarks on social media with some regularity. Conflict of ideas is part of being online. If that’s not something you’re ready to face, then you might want to reconsider.
Are you interested in starting a law blog, podcast, YouTube channel, or some other space where clients or potential clients can find you? You’re likely experiencing a reasonable amount of anxiety about your considered course. But don’t let that dissuade you. I started this blog last year, and doing so have given me the confidence and platform to pursue opportunities would not have been available to me.
Take a measured approach, plan your steps, and jump in. The water’s fine. But most importantly – produce good content, and keep producing good content. You’ll not likely experience overnight success, but this thing is a marathon, not a sprint.