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  • Inside Track
    August 03, 2022

    Annual Review: Wisconsin Law Blog Community Going Strong

    WisLawNOW has grown to include close to 50 law blogs that provide timely updates across practice areas and drive people to lawyers' websites. Is your blog on the list?

    Jeff M. Brown

    typing ideas on a laptop

    Aug. 3, 2022 – According to legal blogger Emily Kelchen, blogging is a critical tool for lawyers looking to shape their reputations and attract clients.

    “There’s going to be information about you on the internet whether you put stuff out or not, so why not put stuff out that you want to people to read and know about you?” Kelchen said.

    “You might as well be the one feeding the information. The more you do that and the more consistently you do that, the higher you’re going to get in the search results and that’s going to be a great client generator for you.”

    The lawyers who make up WisLawNOW, an online law blogging community that debuted in 2020, have heard the message loud and clear.

    Almost 2,000 Posts

    In 2021, WisLawNOW bloggers posted 1,986 articles. So far this year, WisLawNOW bloggers have posted 1,584 articles. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, WisLawNOW blog posts received 98,538 page views.

    From big firm lawyers to solo practition​ers, WisLawNOW bloggers are providing a steady stream of rich content. Last year’s posts touched on topics ranging from ethical issues in alternative dispute resolution, family law discovery tools, and recreational immunity for landowners.

    State Bar members can visit WisLawNOW and read content published by Wisconsin law bloggers on a daily basis. WisLawNOW curates member-generated content on a single website that allows readers to easily find blogs and subscribe to them, and offers bloggers a way to reach more readers and boost their visibility.

    The site is easy to navigate and offers search tools to help find posts on specific topics. Twice a month, members receive an email digest highlighting the best content featured on WisLawNOW.

    Full-time Blogger

    For Kelchen, legal blogging has become a full-time job. Kelchen, a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Nonresident Lawyers Division, took up legal blogging in 2012, after she moved to New Jersey.

    “I wasn’t barred there yet and I was looking for something to do to make a little money while I was waiting to get barred,” Kelchen said. “I ran across a company that does websites for attorneys and they were looking for a content writer, and I said ‘Yeah, I can do that.’”

    Kelchen said a good blog can function like a recommendation from a family member or a positive Google review. The key to making a good blog, she said, is regular posting and writing keyed to a lay audience.

    “The key is consistency, not frequency,” Kelchen said. “If you can consistently do one a month, that’s better than nothing. If it’s a priority and you really need client generation, one a week is really where you need to be.”

    Content Guidelines

    Emily Kelchen

    According to legal blogger Emily Kelchen, blogging is a critical tool for lawyers looking to shape their reputations and attract clients.

    To write an effective blog post, Kelchen said, lawyers should keep their audience in mind.

    “Most legal writing you’re writing for the court or an opposing party – a sophisticated legal audience,” Kelchen said. “When you’re writing a blog post, you’re writing for clients – people who need help and are looking for information. You need to write for those people.”

    But to avoid creating an attorney-client relationship with readers, lawyers must be careful to not provide legal advice in a blog post, Kelchen said. The key is to showcase your experience at a more general level.

    “You should present yourself as a knowledgeable person who can help [readers] resolve their issues,” Kelchen said.

    Think Like an Angler

    Like a well-tended garden, a good legal blog can bear substantial fruit.

    “The way to rise to the top of your results pages is to consistently put out information that talks about what you do, so that when people are searching for someone like you they find you,” Kelchen said.

    Kelchen recommends that lawyers write blog posts aimed at the types of clients they’d like to attract, much like an angler selects the bait or lure appropriate to the species of fish she’s hoping to catch.

    Ideally, Kelchen said, blogging functions as a complement rather than a replacement for in-person marketing. That way, Kelchen said, the people you meet at a Rotary Club meeting or a golf outing “go home and google you to check you out, and you want to reinforce that you’re a credible, knowledgeable, responsible attorney. That’s where your internet results come in.”

    History Lessons and Practice Tools

    WisLawNOW helps extend the reach of blogs and creates a digital library of member-generated content that readers can consume on a daily basis.

    WisLawNOW is one of multiple communication platforms available to State Bar members. The State Bar offers other writing opportunities for members, including Wisconsin Lawyer™,Inside Track™, a bi-monthly electronic newsletter, and State Bar section blogs.

    Not all legal blogs exist to drive website traffic. Some offer history lessons or serve as resources for specific practice areas.

    The Lavinia Goodell: Wisconsin’s First Woman Lawyer blog, also on WisLawNOW, is an example of the former. On Point, a blog maintained by the State Public Defender (SPD), is an example of the latter.

    Colleen Ball, an SPD appellate lawyer, has written for both blogs.

    Along with Wisconsin Supreme Court Commissioner Nancy Kopp, Ball started the Lavinia Goodell blog in 2019. The idea for the blog came to Ball when she was cleaning out a closet and came across materials for a research project that her daughter had done on Goodell a decade or more earlier. Ball ended up writing for the blog for about a year-and-a-half.

    Resource for Defense Bar

    Colleen Ball

    “The goal was to keep the defense bar aware of development in caselaw on issues that affect our clients,” says Colleen Ball, an SPD appellate lawyer. She writes for On Point.

    These days, Ball writes for On Point, along with her fellow public defenders Jefren Olsen and Andy Hinkel. She helped start the blog in 2010 with public defender Bill Tyroler, who’s since retired.

    The blog grew out of case updates that Tyroler emailed to an ever-growing list of lawyers.

    “The goal was to keep the defense bar aware of development in caselaw on issues that affect our clients.”

    Over time, Ball said, the blog has become a tool for tracking changes in the law and become a resource for both criminal defense lawyers and judges.

    “Some decisions really make it possible for you to go back and look at how the law has just changed in that decision, even if that wasn’t the court’s intention,” Ball said. “And to also highlight where, frankly, they’re contradicting themselves or maybe where they’ve made a statement that seems inaccurate.”

    The blog’s list of subscribers, which numbers about 2,000, isn’t limited to criminal defense lawyers – it includes judges and legislators, Ball said.

    “We hope that judges are reading it and we hope that legislators are reading it, in order to influence them,” Ball said. “It’s a way for legislators in particular to realize that the law’s just taken another step.”

    Ball said that prosecutors subscribe to the blog too. And earlier this year, she said, she was contacted by several police departments asking how their members could subscribe.

    ‘Snappy Writing’

    Ball said she and her SPD colleagues typically limit blog posts to between 700 and 800 words – about the length of a newspaper editorial.

    Jeff M. Brown 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.

    She recommends that bloggers aim for “snappy writing, catchy headings, and short posts with timely and pertinent information.”

    Ball said that contributing to On Point has made her a better lawyer.

    “You’re reading so many cases that you otherwise wouldn’t,” Ball said. “If I were just an appellate lawyer, I would be researching each one of those.

    “Here, I must read very widely, so you ha​ve both a broader understanding of the law and a deeper understanding because if you’re going to try and explain a case in 700 or 800 words, you have to poke into the brief a little bit to try and say something interesting about it. It makes us better appellate lawyers.”

    Top 12 Legal Blogs on WisLawNOW

    By number of posts 7/1/2021 to 7/1/2022

      Blog Firm or Affiliation Practice Area # Blog posts
    1 On Point State Public Defender Criminal 279
    2 Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown LLP Blog Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown LLC General 71
    3 von Briesen & Roper Blog von Briesen & Roper, S.C. General 65
    4 WisBlawg University of Wisconsin Law School Legal research 63
    5 Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren S.C. Blog Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren S.C. General 56
    6 Ruder Ware Blog Ruder Ware, L.L.S.C. General 54
    7 Lavinia Goodell Blog Nancy Kopp and Colleen Ball Legal history 51
    8 Ogden Glazer + Schaefer Interact Ogden Glazer + Schaefer Business, intellectual property, food & beverage 49
    9 Axley Publications Axley Brynelson LLP General 34
    10 The Center for Health & Wellness Law Blog Barbara Zabawa, The Center for Health & Wellness LLC Health 28
    11 Ethicking Stacie H. Rosenzweig, Halling & Cayo S.C. Legal ethics 23
    12 Wisconsin Unemployment Victor Forberger Unemployment 17

    Top State Bar Section & Division Blogs

    By number of posts 7/1/2021 to 7/1/2022

      Blog Section or Division Practice Area # Blog posts
    1 Business Law Section Blog Business Law Section Business law 19
    2 Public Interest Section Law Blog Public interest Law Section Public interest 11
    3 Environmental Law Section Blog Environmental Law Section Environmental Law 11
    4 Children & the Law Section Blog Children & the Law Section Blog Children & the Law Section 10
    5 Agricultural Law and Rural Practice Blog Solo & Small Firm & General Practice Section Agricultural 10
    6 Criminal Law Section Blog Criminal Law Section Criminal law 10
    7 Labor & Employment Law Section Blog Labor & Employment Law Section Labor & employment 9
    8 Dispute Resolution Section Blog Dispute Resolution Section Dispute resolution 9
    9 Elder Law & Special Needsa Section Blog Elder Law & Special Needs Section Elder 8
    10 Health Law Section Blog Health Law Section Health 8
    11 Litigation Section Blog Litigation Section Litigation 8
    12 Family Law​ Section Blog Family Law Section Family law 8
    13 Construction & Public Contract Law Section Blog ​
    ​ Construction & Public Contract Law Section Construction Law 8

    Other Legal Blogs on WisLawNOW

    Blog Firm or affiliation Practice Area
    Mahaney Law​ Blog Mahaney Law General
    Tristen’s Landlord-Tenant Blog Petrie & Pettit S.C. Landlord-tenant
    WILMIC Blog Wisconsin Lawyer Insurance Mutual Company Liability insurance
    KEW Tips Kramer, Elkins & Watt LLC Business & employment
    Tax & Wealth Advisor Blog O’Neil, Cannon, Hollman, Dejong & Laing S.C. Tax
    Family Law Update Gregg Herman, Loeb & Hermann S.C. Family law
    Hawley, Kaufman & Kautzer, S.C. Blog Hawley, Kaufman & Kautzer, S.C. General
    Kelchen Consulting Blog Kelchen Consulting Legal marketing
    WisBar Court Review State Bar of Wisconsin Appellate court coverage
    Steimle Birschbach Blog Steimle Birschbach, LLC Probate & estate
    Stafford Rosenbaum Blog Stafford Rosenbaum LLP General
    Employment Law Scene Blog O’Neil, Cannon, Hollman, Dejong & Laing S.C. Employment
    Hurley Burish, S.C. Blog Hurley Burish S.C. General
    M&P Blog Murphy & Prachthauser, S.C. Personal injury
    The Law Center S.C. Blogs The Law Center S.C. Family
    Frieser Legal Blog Frieser Legal Sports law
    Hall Render Blog Hall, Render, Heath & Lyman P.C. Health law
    Kowalski Family Law Blog Kowalski, Wilson & Vang, LLC Family law
    Krekeler Strother Law Blog Krekeler Strother, S.C. Debtor-creditor law
    Lindner & Marsack Blog Lindner & Marsack, S.C. Employment law
    Wisconsin Business Law Blog Schober Schober & Mitchell S.C. Business

    Other Wisconsin Law Blogs*

    Blog Firm Affiliation Practice Area
    Appleton Area Law Blog Peterson Berk Cross S.C. Personal injury law
    Bucher Law Group Blog Bucher Law Group LLC Criminal defense, family law, personal injury
    Carlson Dash Blog Carlson Dash LLC- start here Business, labor & employment, real estate, estate planning
    Comics Lawyer Blog** Dirk Vanover, Vanover Legal LLC Entertainment law
    Doar Drill & Skow Blog Doar Drill & Skow General
    Estate Planning Perspectives Blog Willms-O'Leary S.C. Estate planning
    Herrling Clark Law Firm Blog Herrling Clark Law Firm Ltd Personal injury, family law, estate planning
    Krause Donovan Blog Krause Donovan, LLC Probate and estate planning law
    Lin Law LLC Blog Lin Law LLC Business & estate planning
    Milwaukee Criminal Defense Attorney Blog Meyer Van Severen S.C. Criminal
    Milwaukee Employment Law Blog Alan C. Olson & Associates Employee rights law
    Milwaukee Wisconsin Motor Vehicle Accident Law Blog Martin Law Office LLC Personal injury law
    MWH Law Group Blog MHW Law Group General
    Paul Ksicinski Blog Paul A. Ksicinski, Attorney at Law Criminal defense
    Probst Law Blog Probst Law Offices S.C. Family law
    Schloemer Law Firm Blog Schloemer Law Firm Estate planning, tax and business law
    Stangl Law Blog Stangl Law Offices S.C. Ciminal defense
    Western Wisconsin Law Blog Mudge Porter Ludeen & Seguin S.C. Personal and workplace injury
    Wisconsin Bankruptcy Law Blog Miller & Miller Law LLC Bankruptcy & creditor/debtor law
    Wisconsin DUI Law Blog Melowski & Singh, LLC DUI defense

    * Blog affiliated with a law firm with less than 20 attorneys. At least 12 posts in 2021 and at least five posts in 2022. 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.

    Wisconsin Large Firm Blogs*

    Blog Firm Affiliation Practice Area
    Dewitt Ross & Stevens Blogs Dewitt Ross & Stevens S.C. 8 blogs, various topics
    Foley & Lardner Blogs Foley & Lardner LLP Various blogs, various topics
    Husch Blackwell Blogs Husch Blackwell LLP Various blogs, various topics
    Michael Best Blog Michael Best & Friedrich LLP Various topics
    SmithAmendsen Labor & Employment Blog SmithAmundsen LLC Labor & employment
    Writing on Wisconsin Legal Rights Hawks Quindel S.C. Labor and employment; family law; employee benefits; and personal injury

    * More than 20 or more lawyers. At least 12 posts in 2021 and at least four posts in 2022. 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.

    Wisconsin Academic Law Blogs

    Blog Affiliation Practice Area
    M.U. Law School Faculty Blog M.U. Law School General
    ScowStats Blog Alan Ball, Marquette University Statistics on the Wisconsin Supreme Court

    WisLawNOW Brings Together Wisconsin’s Community of Legal Bloggers

    WisLawNOW banner

    WisLawNOW brings together blog content written by State Bar of Wisconsin members under a single website.

    This network is developed in partnership with LexBlog, a legal blogging network of more than 25,000 bloggers nationwide.

    Many Wisconsin legal bloggers have already joined this legal blogging community to expand their reach, showcase their expertise, and contribute to this digital collection of legal information in many practice areas.

    Why WisLawNOW?

    1. Creates community of Wisconsin legal bloggers that readers can access in one place.

    2. Improves member access to a growing, timely library of legal knowledge that is searchable and responsive to mobile devices. And, members can find or subscribe to content of specific interest through practice-area channels.

    3. Uses technology to expedite information delivery and extend the reach of member-generated content, potentially leading to lawyer-to-lawyer and consumer referrals.

    No Cost to Join WisLawNOW

    WisLawNOW is a benefit of State Bar membership. Legal bloggers who join WisLawNOW continue to publish on their regular platforms, and RSS technology will automatically pull their blog posts into the WisLawNOW website.

    The blog author’s law firm and profile are highlighted in the post, linking back to the original blog post. See an example below. See entire blog post.

    blog author and name box from WisLawNOW

    Blog posts must meet the Blog Post Inclusion Criteria. WisLawNOW will feature blogs related to the practice of law, including substantive legal developments, analysis of legislation or regulatory change, practice management and technology issues, lawyer ethics, lawyer well-being, and other topics that relate to the work of Wisconsin lawyers.

    To increase readership of this blog content, the State Bar distributes an email digest to members every other week to showcase the best of this content.

    This email means greater distribution of your blog post. In essence, WisLawNOW allows Wisconsin legal bloggers to amplify their message, creates a community of legal bloggers, and allows readers to access all Wisconsin legal blogs in one place.

    The State Bar is continually onboarding member-bloggers. To be included in WisLawNOW, members must complete a short online form.

    After filling out the form, the blog will be reviewed for substance and technical requirements. For more information, read WisLawNOW’s FAQ.

    Join now

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