Around the Blawgosphere: Above the Law's 'Contrarian' Writer; Blogging Under the Marketing Influence

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Changing of the Guard

This week, Above the Law introduced The Practice, a small-firms column by Miami criminal defense lawyer Brian Tannebaum—which presumably replaces Small Firms, Big Lawyers, which was written by Boston solo-turned-consultant Jay Shepherd and ran from February through September.

What Tannebaum says he’ll be writing about, in a nutshell: “There will always be clients who want to meet lawyers in offices, wearing business clothes, understanding their legal issues, and making decisions on hiring that are unrelated to a 140-character statement on a website. I’m also here to write about running a practice from a business perspective, that work-life balance is something that comes with ‘work,’ and that while clients come first, sometimes you have to fire them, turn them down, and watch their dollars walk out the door.”

What Blogging Is All About

“Law firm websites and blogs have completely different purposes, content, and audiences,” Minneapolis solo Sam Glover writes at Lawyerist. They don’t even belong on the same domain.” Glover says he understands the purpose of a “news” tab on a law firm website that touts a firm’s recent accomplishments, but he doesn’t think that content belongs on a law blog. “A blog is not a direct marketing tool; it serves a very different purpose. Blogs are meant to be read. By people, that is, not search engines.” And people are not always looking for a lawyer; it’s not a bad strategy to write about something people would like to read under those circumstances. “Build an audience by writing about a subject related to what you do, not by writing only about what you do.”

At Simple Justice, New York City solo Scott Greenfield also notes a relatively recent proliferation of marketing-focused blogs, just doing “their pro forma thing the way some marketing guru told them to, hoping that one of their 27 readers needed to hire a lawyer.” These blawggers focus what readers who need lawyers might be interested in, and not on what their peers are writing on other blawgs tackling similar subjects. “The question remains, will the third wave want to join the blawgosphere, or is this only about existing in their marketing isolation?” Greenfield writes. “If the latter, then the blawgosphere will not survive.”

Home Stretch

The legal blogosphere has been occasionally checking in with Tyler Coulson, who started a trek with his dog, Mabel, from Delaware to California in March. He told the New York Post in July about a black bear’s attack on his tent. And late last week, the Am Law Daily checked in with him when he was resting at a hotel in Baker, Calif. He said that he walks about 20 to 30 miles a day on the days he walks but will also take days off. He also says he’s occasionally taken a ride. “I’ve turned down lots of rides, but I do take them every now and then. I’m not trying to set any records. If it’s a mile at the end of the day into town or a campground, I’ll take that ride. And when descending from mountain passes, you really don’t have an option. People have stopped—many of them dog lovers—and told me it’s too dangerous. They wouldn’t leave until Mabel and I got in, and I’m glad we did.”

Coulson told the Am Law Daily he planned to finish at Ocean Beach Dog Beach in San Diego on Saturday, Nov. 12. In a Nov. 3 update on Coulson’s eponymous blog, he wrote that he has 100 miles to go. The same night on his Twitter feed, he wrote that he “will push hard one or two more days, then find a place to rest and recoup in [San Diego] for a bit before the big finish.”

Juries Wary of Do-Gooders

At The Jury Room, consultant Rita Handrich notes a study in which researchers attempted to scientifically prove the common wisdom that people—anticipating that they will be harshly judged—instinctively belittle “do-gooders.” In this experiment, participants (all meat-eaters) had to both come up with adjectives to describe vegetarians and assess what a vegetarian would think of their diet. Those who had to ponder the extent of vegetarians’ judgment of them before writing the adjectives came up with more harsh ones (“preachy” or “bleeding heart,” for instance) than those who came up with the adjectives first.

Having a vegetarian client could be a liability with meat-eating jurors, Handrich writes. “Ultimately, everyone on the jury wants to feel that they are seen as being good. So the “morally superior” person, in order to avoid the kind of pre-emptive judgmentalism that this study uncovered, is wise to be nice. Be relatable. Be sincere and self-effacing. Express appreciation for people in their lives who are strikingly like the average juror. “

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