No doubt the idea of blogging can be daunting for a business, especially for law firms with an operating model that dates back to centuries passed. On the other hand, it can no longer be disputed that blogging has become a widespread business tool and, when done strategically, it brings demonstrable benefits.
Content marketing, which involves the creation and sharing of relevant and valuable content, has long been considered a premium method of marketing and it is exceptionally well suited for professions. A blog is an excellent method of delivering content marketing and can also be utilised as a business development and public relations tool.
Law firms have been particularly cautious about embracing emerging technologies, including blogs and social media generally. Perhaps this is understandable, to some extent, due to the range of professional rules and ethical obligations that apply to lawyers. Further, at most law firms, lawyers’ time is generally measured in 6-minute units and their economic contribution is primarily evaluated by the fees they generate. Writing for, and maintaining, a blog can be a time-consuming activity and few lawyers would be willing to embark on such a journey without appropriate support from their firm. Perhaps this explains why so many popular legal blogs appear to be the work of lawyers at smaller practices or individuals who manage their blogs strictly outside business hours, including yours truly, which can also be a great challenge given the hours lawyers work.
In light of this general reluctance, I would like to share a success story with you about a legal blog that was born just over three years ago and still going strong. No, not this blog (although this blog did provide some inspiration, having set it up just over a year before the events I am recounting).
In late 2009 my firm decided to discontinue their well-respected, decade old annual hard copy publication of insolvency law review. Consequently, the partner leading the insolvency practice in my office asked me, in my capacity as the knowledge management senior associate for the practice, to explore what they could do to ‘replace’ this publication so that they could continue communicating with the market effectively.
A number of options were explored, but my primary recommendation was to set up a blog where we would publish our insolvency case summaries and other updates on relevant statistics and regulatory developments, on a regular basis. In fact, I noted that this was a far better option than our now defunct annual review, as with a blog we would be able to bring updates on events to market as they happen, rather than a year later which was an inherent restriction built into an annual hard copy publication …
The blog was established with relatively little fuss, using a free (yes free!), popular third-party blog provider, and the first entry was published in August 2010. Since then we posted over 340 blog entries (on average two per week). The blog has been a runaway success, having received over 90,000 page views since its inception, which averages out to over 2,400 page views per month. There are also hundreds of subscribers, who receive an automatic email notification each time a new entry is posted.
Admittedly, running the blog is hard work but I am pleased to play the central role in the administration and management of its content, knowing that it’s a true value-add proposition for many of our clients and also a significant contribution to the firm’s strategic business development objectives. The blog is a living, breathing case study into the tangible contribution knowledge management can make to a firm (and its clients) where a law firm is willing to entertain new ideas and embrace new technologies.