The duel between Scott Greenfield and Adrian Dayton over the merits of lawyers using social media reminds me of the Energizer Bunny, and while I’m inclined to call it tiresome and repetitive, something new filtered through yesterday while editing Adrian’s most recent post.
Adrian claims that “over the next 24 months law firms will become big believers in social media and unleash the true power of these tools by allowing all of their attorneys to participate.” He cites some AmLaw statistics, namely that of 100,000+ lawyers, there are only 297 blogs. At first blush, that seems ridiculously small. A fraction of a fraction. Then I read the sentence about the prospect of 10% of a firm like Baker & McKenzie blogging, providing it “substantially more exposure” and thought: does the public really need to be exposed to more information when it can’t handle the current torrent?
And here we have another Energizer Bunny debate: quantity v. quality.
Setting up blogs and websites is incredibly easy, and cheap, with the myriad of hosting companies and one-click installations. The hardest part is determining the domain name, though some are forgoing that and simply creating sub-domains. Other than helping search engine rankings, which few will argue is the life blood of many a business, what else is to be gained from such an influx of blawgs?
It is easy to see it merely from the perspective of the law firm, and its increase in exposure. It is also easy to see it from the perspective of the legal consumer who now has to contend with even more information. But there is another perspective being overlooked: job opportunity.
Someone has to write blog posts. And of course the preferred person is a lawyer at a law firm. Somehow, though, I think the lawyers who want to blog are already doing so, and the rest, well, may not be interested or view it as yet another task to be completed. It will get farmed out to a low-level associate or maybe a paralegal or secretary, becoming a hot potato until it reaches the last person. That’s not very effective, and that is not going to help any law firm establish itself in the blawgosphere. Blogging, to be effective, needs to be consistent. It can’t be subject to low and high work tide.
So what is a law firm, of any size, to do? Here are three suggestions:
- Tap the unemployed lawyer market
- Bring on a law student as an intern
- Hire a ghost writer
All three carry a certain amount of risk.
Sure, there are a number of unemployed lawyers still out there, and chances are a few of them will jump at the chance. But they might also see it as something to tide them over, potentially creating a revolving door and an inconsistent tone for your firm blog. And a law student intern may work for the summer, but what happens when the school year starts again in the fall? Which brings us to option 3: hire a ghost writer.
The topic of ghost writing has come up before, its ethical dilemma and confusion over the term “ghost writing.” Ethics becomes an issue if there aren’t checks and balances in place, the same checks and balances used for any other law firm employee. Limit responsibility to researching and writing posts, and have a lawyer review and publish them. This will help make blogging seem less like a burden to the firm, and help keep its tone and its posting schedule consistent.
So if Adrian is correct in his prediction, that even just 10% of a firm like Baker & McKenzie will be blogging in the next 24 months, then job opportunities await.