Inside Track: Fifth Annual Wisconsin Law Blogs: 76 Blogs Find Their Legal Niche:

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  • Fifth Annual Wisconsin Law Blogs: 76 Blogs Find Their Legal Niche

    The fifth annual list of Wisconsin law blogs shows lawyers continue to blog on developments in niche areas, providing a primary source of legal information.

    Joe Forward

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    June 5, 2019 – Attorney Victor Forberger started a blog in 2013 when he recognized major changes in laws on unemployment, one of his practice areas. He says the blog was the only available mechanism for documenting and explaining the changes.

    “While the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has made gestures towards transparency, general or thorough explanations of these changes are still severely lacking,” said Forberger, who writes on the Wisconsin Unemployment Law Blog.

    Forberger’s law blog is one of 13 known Wisconsin-based law blogs that have been going strong for the last five years. The State Bar of Wisconsin has published a list of Wisconsin law blogs the last four years. This article marks the fifth annual list.

    And while 76 blogs appear on this year’s list, only 13 of them have appeared all five years. These all-star Wisconsin law bloggers have amassed a serious library of information that is publicly accessible for those searching for answers.

    For Forberger, the blog isn’t really about attracting clients. “Unemployed folks generally cannot afford legal representation,” he said. “I get phone calls about unemployment matters and even questions from folks who think they are calling DWD.”

    “I usually just answer their questions. If they are in Madison, I refer them to the Unemployment Appeals Clinic connected to U.W. Law School.”

    The clinic provides free representation to unemployed workers in unemployment compensation hearings and appeals at the state Labor & Industry Commission (LIRC).

    In essence, people find Forberger through his blog. Forberger answers their questions or refers them to the right place. In turn, Forberger builds his reputation as an expert in this area, and he is providing a public service to those in need of legal services.

    And Forberger plans to keep it going. “Given how unemployment law has been a ‘hot’ area of law in Wisconsin – with major LIRC decisions and various circuit court decisions – the question is really how could I not keep the blog going,” he said.

    Victor Forberger blogs

    Victor Forberger blogs from his basement office at home.

    Newsbreakers

    Kevin O’Keefe is former La Crosse trial lawyer who ditched his litigation loafers for galoshes to start Seattle-based LexBlog, a network of more than 20,000 legal bloggers.

    Joe Forwardorg jforward wisbar Joe Forward, Saint Louis Univ. School of Law 2010, is a legal writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. He can be reached by org jforward wisbar email or by phone at (608) 250-6161.

    O’Keefe, LexBlog’s CEO, recently interviewed his new editor-in-chief, a well-known lawyer-journalist named Bob Ambrogi. In it, Ambrogi reveals that he went to law school to be a better journalist. “I went to law school to get ahead of journalism,” Ambrogi said.

    Ambrogi believes lawyers are the future of legal journalism. “[B]logs have replaced some of the traditional news media in the legal area in particular,” Ambrogi said. He noted that bloggers are the ones covering the details that traditional news outlets don’t.

    “There are bloggers out there who are literally breaking news in the sense that they’re often the first ones reporting court opinions that come down, or new regulatory developments,” Ambrogi said. “There are others that are doing the second day, the third day, a later take on it, writing more analytical pieces.”

    Case in point: SCOTUS Blog. This independent blog covers the U.S. Supreme Court, with painstaking details and analysis on every merits case as well as statistics and other information. The blog’s writers are law professors and lawyers, including Amy Howe, a former U.S. Supreme Court litigator and law professor at Harvard and Stanford.

    Howe’s a “blogger,” yet she holds one of 24 coveted press passes for the U.S. Supreme Court. Others include Marcia Coyle and Tony Mauro (National Law Journal), David Savage (L.A. Times), Pete Williams (NBC News), and Adam Liptak (New York Times).

    Another example is Health Affairs Blog with posts from many lawyers and law professors in health law. Tim Jost, a health law professor at Washington University, who literally co-wrote the book on health law, was the blog’s primary blogger until recently. Now, lawyer Katie Klein (JD, MPH), a Georgetown law professor, has taken on that role.

    Credible and ethical journalists are neutral storytellers that source information from the individuals with knowledge and expertise on particular subjects and situations to deliver news. But legal bloggers are the individuals with knowledge and expertise.

    “Legal journalism is now created by those in the know – practicing lawyers, law professors, law students and other legal industry professionals, all of whom have first-hand knowledge and experience in niche areas,” O’Keefe explained in his own blog, Real Lawyers.

    Because reputation and credibility is a lawyer’s stock in trade, providing credible and accurate information is an important aspect for any legal blogger. And O’Keefe says readers are smart: they can generally spot what is and what is not credible.

    LexBlog CEO Kevin O’Keefe on Lawyers as Journalists

    Kevin O’Keefe loves blogging and social media. That’s why started the LexBlog Network and serves as LexBlog’s chief executive officer. He talks about legal blogs as the future of legal journalism. But we asked him: “How might he respond if someone said legal bloggers are not beholden to the ethics of journalism and the objectivity that is the hallmark of journalism (or supposed to be).” First-hand knowledge could include biased views. He responded by email and also on his blog, Real Lawyers.

    “Journalism, like everything, changes and often times change comes when we realize greater value from something new. Think of Amazon for Books, Uber for rides to the airport and much more,” O’Keefe said.

    “As a lawyer I was regularly called by journalists who were called upon to have a couple different sources. And they sold news by controversy. I said it was light outside, and another lawyer said it was dark. That was news.

    “With the advent of the Internet and blogs, news became democratized. I could report, as a lawyer, without waiting for a call. If someone wanted to differ, they could jump on line and opine. People could decide what and who they believed, without having a reporter who had no domain expertise write it up for them.

    “We have more news from more reliable sources as a result of the Internet. Want to find out what is causing disruption downtown in any community, jump on Twitter or Facebook and get first hand reporting with pictures and video. No one says I need the ethics of journalism before this is news I can rely on - it is the news today.

    “And beyond news, it’s the same for law journals and reviews that have been peer reviewed. Law blogs from lawyers and professors with niche expertise blog without going through publishers - and again, users - the readers - find substantial value.”

    Getting Started  

    Blogging is like surfing. You just have to get on the board and take a ride. It won’t be easy. But as time goes by, it will get easier, says Cedarburg attorney Collin Schaefer.

    Schaefer of Ogden Glazer + Schaefer, recently wrote a blog post: “Just Start Blogging Anyway.” Schaefer explains that blogging was not easy at first, but he stuck with it.

    “I wouldn’t say that surfing and legal blogging are that alike,” said Schaefer. “However, I think getting started with a blog requires the same gumption, dedication, and willingness to fail (and learn) that surfing does.

    “There is also a certain element of ‘taking the plunge’ associated with hitting ‘publish’ each week. Even after a year of blogging consistently, I still hesitate before I click.”

    Schaeffer said his business partner, Erin Ogden, changed his mind about blogging and gave him many of the same tips he shared in his recent blog post.

    “Blogging each week has become considerably easier, but it’s important to stick with it because it’s pretty easy to slide backwards,” he said.

    In his blog post, Schaefer provides some useful “tips for the lazy would-be blogger.” In surfing terms, he advises to keep it short. “Dude, nobody wants to read a treatise.”

    Schaefer also says good blogs are ones that weave professional and personal lives together, which personalize the blogger and makes the process more enjoyable.

    Cross-posting on LinkedIn is a good way to gain traction, Schaefer says. But the key is sticking with it. “It takes a while to see results,” said Schaefer. “Blogging does matter; clients have hired us on the basis of one post; and it does make a difference.”

    Branching Out

    Consumer protection lawyer Ivan Hannibal of the Auto Justice Law Office in Madison just started a new blog. Last month, he launched the Wisconsin Auto Law Blog, and leverages the LexBlog Network, noted above, to distribute to a wider audience.

    Hannibal said he started the blog to let Wisconsin consumers know they have legal rights when it comes to buying a car, repossession, auto repair, and warranties.

    “These are issues people deal with all of the time in their daily lives,” Hannibal said.  “There really isn’t much out there right now on these topics specific to Wisconsin law, and the information that is out there is done in a pell-mell and disorganized manner.” 

    Hannibal wants to create a one-stop resource for consumers. “One of my favorite parts of being a consumer lawyer has always been to educate others on the law. I don’t think you should have to go to law school to understand your legal rights,” Hannibal said. “I’m hoping that the information I put out into the universe helps a lot of other people.”

    Hannibal’s blog also serves as a creative outlet. “It is nice writing something that is not written for a judge or opposing counsel. A lot of what we as lawyers do is write for an audience of one or two. I’m hoping my blog has a wider reach than that,” he said.

    For Hannibal, initial challenges are technical and substantive. There is a steep learning curve on technical aspects such as search engine optimization (SEO) and meta tags, which drive the blog’s reach in internet search engines.

    “In regards to the substantive content, the challenge has been to take prolix and overly complicated statutes and administrative rules and try and break them down so everyday people can understand them,” Hannibal said. “This is easier said than done. “

    Hannibal hopes the blog will help client development, but that’s not the primary reason he’s doing it. “There is a lot of work and time that goes into building a blog and writing articles,” he said. “I recommend starting a blog only if you are really interested in a subject and have the time to commit to writing on a regular basis.”

    2019 Wisconsin Law Blogs

    Below is the 2019 list of Wisconsin Law blogs. Some of these blogs have been going strong since the State Bar published its first annual “Wisconsin Law Blogs” in 2015.

    Other blogs fell off the list. Some blogs are new to the scene. If you think your blog meets the criteria for inclusion but it’s not included, contact State Bar legal writer org jforward wisbar Joe Forward. Remember, the list only includes blogs that posted at least 12 times in 2018, and at least three times in 2019. Blogs must include posting dates.

    13 All-Star Blogs: Five Consecutive Years*

    Blog

    Firm Affiliation

    Practice Area

    1

    Andrew Ladd Law Blog

    The Law Offices of Andrew C. Ladd LLC

    Criminal defense

    2

    Appleton Area Law Blog

    Peterson Berk Cross S.C.

    Personal injury law

    3

    Employment Law Blog

    Walcheski & Luzi LLC

    Employment law

    4

    Loeb & Herman Blog

    Gregg Herman, Loeb & Herman S.C.

    Family law

    5

    Gimbel Reilly Guerin & Brown Blog

    Gimbel Reilly Guerin & Brown, LLP

    General

    6

    Hudson Legal Blog

    Mudge Porter Ludeen & Seguin S.C.

    Personal and workplace injury

    7

    Milwaukee Employment Law Blog

    Alan C. Olson & Associates

    Employee rights law

    8

    Wisconsin Bankruptcy Law Blog

    Miller & Miller Law LLC

    Bankruptcy & creditor/debtor law

    9

    Tesar Law Group Blog

    Marsha Tesar, Tesar Law Group S.C.

    Estate planning

    10

    Tristan’s Landlord-Tenant Law Blog

    Tristan Pettit, Petrie & Pettit SC

    Landlord-tenant law

    11

    Wisconsin Business Law Blog

    Schober Schober & Mitchell S.C.

    Business law

    12

    Wisconsin DUI Law Blog

    Melowski & Associates

    DUI defense

    13

    Wisconsin Unemployment Law Blog**

    Victor Forberger

    Unemployment law, labor and employment law

    * Blog affiliated with a law firm with less than 20 attorneys. At least 12 posts in 2018 and at least three posts in 2019. If the blog does not have an actual name, the law firm name is used.

    ** These are “independent” blogs. They are not affiliated or branded by a law firm. However, this list still notes the law firm or entity of the independent blogger listed.

    28 Wisconsin Solo, Small Firm, or Independent Blogs*

    Blog

    Firm Affiliation

    Practice Area

    14

    Appleton WI Bankruptcy Law Blog

    Helbing Law Office LLC

    Bankruptcy law

    15

    Boller & Vaughan Blog

    Boller & Vaughan LLC

    Personal injury law

    16

    Bucher Law Group Blog

    Bucher Law Group LLC

    Criminal defense, family law, personal injury

    17

    Cannon & Dunphy Blog

    Cannon & Dunphy S.C.

    Personal injury law

    18

    Carlson Dash Blog

    Carlson Dash LLC

    Business, labor & employment, real estate, estate planning

    19

    Center for Health & Wellness Law Blog

    Barbara Zabawa, Center for Health & Wellness Law LLC

    Health law

    20

    Comics Lawyer Blog**

    Dirk Vanover, Vanover Legal LLC

    Entertainment law

    21

    Due Diligence

    Brian Mahany, Mahany Law

    Whistleblower and fraud recovery law

    22

    First Look Family Law Blog

    Karyn Gimbel Youso, First Look Family Law

    Family law

    23

    Hurley, Burish, & Stanton Blog

    Hurley, Burish, & Stanton SC

    General

    24

    Karp & Iancu Blog

    David Karp, Karp & Iancu SC

    Family law, personal injury law

    25

    KEW Tips Blog

    Kramer, Elkins & Watt LLC

    Business, employment, family law

    26

    Krause Donovan Blog

    Krause Donovan, LLC

    Probate and estate planning law

    27

    MWH Law Group Blog

    MHW Law Group

    General

    28

    Milwaukee Legal Issues Blog

    The Law Offices of Robert A. Levine

    Personal injury

    29

    Milwaukee Wisconsin Motor Vehicle Accident Law Blog

    Martin Law Office LLC

    Personal injury law

    30

    Murphy & Prachthauser Blog

    Murphy & Prachthauser S.C.

    Personal injury law

    31

    OgdenGlazer Blog

    Ogden Glazer LLC

    Business, food and beverage, intellectual property law

    32

    Paul Ksicinski Blog

    Paul A. Ksicinski, Attorney at Law

    Criminal defense

    33

    Police Misconduct Blog

    Mahany Law

    Police misconduct

    34

    Probst Law Blog

    Probst Law Offices S.C.

    Family law

    35

    Schloemer Law Firm Blog

    Schloemer Law Firm

    Estate planning, tax and business law

    36

    Securities Law Blog

    Halling & Cayo, S.C.

    Securities law

    37

    Stangl Law Blog

    Stangl Law Offices S.C.

    Ciminal defense

    38

    Studinski Law Blog

    Studinski Law LLC

    Personal injury

    39

    The Editing Lawyer Blog**

    Benjamin Scott Wright, Wright Law

    Legal writing, editing, publishing

    40

    The Estate Planning Perspectives Blog

    Wills-O’Leary Law Firm

    Estate & business planning, elder & disability law

    41

    Wisconsin Crime & Justice Blog

    Mastantuono & Coffee, S.C.

    Criminal defense

    * Blog affiliated with a law firm with less than 20 attorneys. At least 12 posts in 2018 and at least three posts in 2019. If the blog does not have an actual name, the law firm name is used.

    ** These are “independent” blogs. They are not affiliated or branded by a law firm. However, this list still notes the law firm or entity of the independent blogger listed.

    14 Wisconsin Larger Firm Blogs*

    Blog

    Firm Affiliation

    Practice Area

    42

    Axley Brynelson Blog

    Axley Brynelson LLP

    General

    43

    Dewitt Ross & Stevens Blogs

    Dewitt Ross & Stevens S.C.

    8 blogs, various topics

    44

    Foley & Lardner Blogs

    Foley & Lardner LLP

    Various blogs, various topics

    45

    Godfrey & Kahn Blogs

    Godfrey & Kahn S.C.

    2 blogs, labor and employment, insurance

    46

    Hall Render Blog

    Hall Render Killian Health & Lyman P.C.

    Health law

    47

    Herrling Clark Law Firm Blog

    Herrling Clark Law Firm Ltd

    Personal injury, family law, estate planning

    48

    Writing on Your Rights

    Hawks Quindel S.C.

    Labor and employment; family law; employee benefits; and personal injury

    49

    Husch Blackwell Blogs

    Husch Blackwell LLP

    Various blogs, various topics

    50

    O’Neil Cannon Hollman Dejong & Laing Blogs

    O’Neil Cannon Hollman Dejong & Laing S.C.

    Labor and employment; tax and wealth.

    51

    On Point

    Wisconsin State Public Defender

    Criminal defense

    52

    Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren Blog

    Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren S.C.

    General

    53

    The Blue Ink Blogs

    Ruder Ware

    Employment, banking, tax, municipal law, health care

    54

    SmithAmendsen Labor & Employment Blog

    SmithAmundsen LLC

    Labor & employment

    55

    Stafford Rosenbaum Blog

    Stafford Rosenbaum LLP

    General

    56

    von Briesen & Roper Blog

    von Briesen & Roper S.C.

    General

    * More than 20 or more lawyers. At least 12 posts in 2018 and at least three posts in 2019. Some larger firms maintain multiple blogs. They are not listed separately. If the blog does not have an actual name, only the law firm name is noted.

    4 Wisconsin Academic Law Blogs

    Blog

    Affiliation

    Practice Area

    57

    Althouse Blog

    Ann Althouse, U.W. Law School

    General

    58

    M.U. Law School Faculty Blog

    M.U. Law School

    General

    59

    ScowStats Blog

    Alan Ball, Marquette University

    Statistics on the Wisconsin Supreme Court

    60

    WisBlawg

    U.W. Law School

    Legal research

    9 Active State Bar of Wisconsin Blogs*

    61

    Business Law Section Blog

    62

    Construction and Public Contract Section Blog

    63

    Dispute Resolution Section Blog

    64

    Environmental Law Section Blog

    65

    Family Law Section Blog

    66

    International Practice Section Blog

    67

    Labor & Employment Blog

    68

    Litigation Section Blog

    69

    Public Interest Section Blog (closed to members only)

    * These blogs meet the criteria as “active” blogs, with at least 10 posts in 2018 and at least two posts in 2019.

    7 Emerging State Bar of Wisconsin Blogs*

    70

    Agricultural Law and Rural Practice Blog

    71

    Appellate Practice Section Blog (Sua Sponte)

    72

    Children and the Law Section Blog

    73

    Health Law Section Blog

    74

    Nonresident Lawyers Blog

    75

    Real Property and Probate Trust Law Blog

    76

    Taxation Law Section Blog

    * These blogs don’t yet meet the criteria as “active” blogs because they are new or did not post at least 10 times in 2018.




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