Jan. 4, 2022 – Solo practitioners and small-firm attorneys should pay attention to blogging and practice-management technology, according to
LawSites’ Bob Ambrogi.
Ambrogi, a lawyer, journalist and award-winning blogger, said legal blogs are more popular than ever.
“I’ve just hit my 20th anniversary of blogging and I’ve never seen the level of readership that I have,” Ambrogi said.
Ambrogi blogs about legal technology and admits that blogging about legal technology is different than blogging about a legal practice. But the principles – and potential value – are the same, he said.
‘It Really Changed my Career’
During the several years that Ambrogi hosted the LawNext podcast for
LexBlog, he interviewed about 200 attorney bloggers.
“Everybody I spoke to talked about the fact that their blogs were critical to their careers and critical to their success,” Ambrogi said.
“I often asked, ‘Where would you be today if you hadn’t started your blog?’ and often the answer was ‘I don’t know – it really changed my career.’”
According to Ambrogi, a legal blog should focus on a niche topic – something related to the blogger’s practice area – with posts more like an op-ed than a law review note.
Jeff M. Brown is a legal writer for the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. He can be reached by email or by phone at (608) 250-6126.
“They should be short,” Ambrogi said. “They can have humor and character and personality in them. You need to develop a style.”
Regular posting – most legal bloggers post at least once a week, Ambrogi said – is important. Keeping the reader uppermost in mind is important too.
“What value you can you deliver to your reader?” Ambrogi said. “What can you tell them that maybe nobody else is telling them?”
Demonstrate that you know you what you’re talking about and readers will follow, Ambrogi said – especially if you add a little panache.
“If you have that combination of legal knowledge and a little bit of personality, it just turns into some magic in terms of connecting with potential clients.”
What About Podcasting?
Podcasts continue to sprout like mushrooms after a summer rain. According to podnews.net,
as of March 2022, there were 3.6 million podcasts on
Spotify, a leading podcast platform.
But Ambrogi said that for most lawyers, a podcast won’t have the bang for that buck that a legal blog does.
Creating and producing a podcast, which involves booking, recording, and some audio engineering, takes much longer than writing a blog post. And a podcast, once it’s in the can, requires promotion, Ambrogi said.
“It’s not just a lot of work to produce the podcast, it’s a lot of work to build up listenership for it,” Ambrogi said. “If you have a more national practice, where you want to reach a broad audience, it might make more sense.”
Worth the Work
Ambrogi said that small firms often rotate posting duties among lawyers, to spread out the work. That isn’t possible for a solo practitioner. But solos should find the time to blog anyway, Ambrogi said.
“You’re going to want to spend some time on marketing and business development no matter what,” Ambrogi said. “Blogging has proven to be one of, if not the most, effective way to build a practice.”
Ambrogi said that solo practitioners can build a blog on work they’re already doing.
“If you’re already reading the cases from your state supreme court on family law or whatever your practice area might be, how much longer does it take to write up a quick post about the supreme court ruling and post it up there? It can become part of a routine.”
Blogging isn’t only about bringing in new clients, Ambrogi said – it’s also about honing your legal chops to better serve existing clients.
“Blogging makes you smarter because it gets you in a routine of keeping up with the news and writing about the news in a way that you have to understand it so other people can understand it,” Ambrogi said. “So, there’s a real benefit to it just beside the marketing side of it.”
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The Rise of Practice-Management Tech
Lawyers bringing in new clients with blog posts can take advantage of another tech trend to manage those new clients – cloud-based practice management software.
The field was once dominated by big companies like Clio and Rocket Matter. But Ambrogi said the sector has matured and there are now
Cloud-based practice-management software allows attorneys to perform conflict checks, securely communicate with clients, manage workflow, and digitally store documents, among other tasks.
According to Ambrogi, the disruption to many attorneys’ practices caused by the pandemic highlights the benefits of cloud-based practice management software.
“I think the pandemic really proved that a law firm today really needs a strong, almost end-to-end practice management system with ways to manage client intake, manage cases while you have them, manage payments and invoices and billing.”
A prime benefit of most practice-management software is the ability to accept electronic payments – something long overdue for a profession wedded to paper invoices and payment by check.
“People don’t pay that way anymore,” Ambrogi said. “Payment technology has become huge. All the different practice-management platforms either have their own native payments technology or incorporate some third-party technology.”