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Blog about legal blogging!

Herrmann went off on a frolic and detour (from drug and device law) in a couple of recent posts, first noting that none of the ten firms with the highest profits per partner sponsored blogs and then speculating about why that’s so.

The blogosphere lit up like a Christmas tree!

And Herrmann can’t resist jumping back into the fray, with this third post on the subject.

Two big firm bloggers have now chimed in: Paul Karlsgodt (of the Class Action Blawg and Baker & Hostetler) defends the benefits of big firm blogging, and Francis Pileggi (of the Delaware Corporate and Commercial Litigation Blog and Fox Rothschild) explains the benefits that blogging bestows on him.

Zach Lowe, over at AmLawDaily, did the kind of thing that reporters do: He called the managing partners of the high profits-per-partner firms and asked why they didn’t sponsor blogs. Jonathan Schiller, managing partner of Boies Schiller, was blunt: “I think the lawyers here are just too busy,” he says. “I’m too old to blog. I’d rather play golf if I have a bit of free time.”

It’s a shame that Zach didn’t ask the follow-up question: Does that go for all business development efforts, or just for blogging?

That is: “Jonathan, you’ve been solicited to write a by-lined piece in the Wall Street Journal. Do you accept, or shall we tell the Journal that you’d rather golf than write?” Or: “Jonathan, you’ve been invited to give the keynote address at the annual meeting of the Association of Corporate Counsel on Saturday morning. Do you accept, or will you be keeping your tee time?”

To our eye, there’s a world of difference between saying, on the one hand, “I don’t have time for any business development activities” (which may be crazy in today’s hypercompetitive world) and saying, on the other hand, “I don’t have time for blogging as a business development activity, because I don’t get a large enough return on my investment” (which may be entirely rational).

In large part, whether blogging makes sense as a business development tool may depend on what business you’re trying to attract.

Here’s a blogging self-assessment quiz:

You’ve just gotten a phone call from a new client who wants to retain you for a new matter that is likely to generate $10,000 in fees. What’s your reaction?

A. “Thank God! Now I have something to do!”

B. “Eureka! If I score another dozen just like this one, it’ll be a banner year!”

C. “Refer it out. It’s not worth doing a conflict check for 10 grand in fees.”

If you answered A or B, blogging may be a great business development tool for you. If you answered C, blogging may yield a far less attractive return on investment.

Other reactions to our blog posts about blogging included Ron Friedmann at PrismLegal (failing to blog is a terrible mistake being made by big firms), Robert Ambrogi at Legal Blog Watch (repeating the arguments that we’d heard, but not really commenting on them), and the ABA Journal (simply reporting on the fireworks in the blogosphere over this issue).

As for us, we continue to think that blogging yields many benefits — personal satisfaction, a raised professional profile, participating in the public debate, becoming a central clearinghouse for information, and the like — but its value as a business development tool for lawyers at large firms remains unproven.

The two of us blog for love, not for money.

But let the fireworks continue (while we head back to drug and device law, where we belong)!

  • Published on: http://www.beforeyoutakethatpill.com

    The Prevention of Ignorance

    Historically, information sources provided to American citizens were limited due to the few methods available to the public, such as radio, TV, or news print.

    And also this information was subject to being filtered and, in some cases, delayed. This occurred for a number of reasons- which included political ones.

    Now, and with great elation, there is the internet, which can be rather beneficial for the average citizen.

    Soon after the advent of the internet, web logs were created, that are termed ‘blogs’. At that time, about a decade ago, the blogs were referred to as personal journals or diaries visible on line.

    As time passed, blogs became a media medium, and blog communities evolved on topics that often were not often addressed in mainstream media.

    In addition, blogs provide immediate contributions by others, the readers of the posts of the blog authors, instead of the cumbersomeness of opinion and editorial pieces historically and not always presented in such media forms as newspapers.

    The authors of blogs vary as far as their backgrounds and intent of what they present are for exactly, just as with other media forms. Furthermore, they are not exonerated from the legalities of what is written, such as cases of libel.

    While we can presume that they like to write, they may not be quality writers. But to write is to think, which I believe is a good quality one should have.

    Yet presently, blogs have become quite a driving force for those with objectives often opposed by others.

    Also, they are a threat to others at times, such as big business and politicians.

    In fact, both presently monitor the progress and content of blogs that provide instant information on events, which might affect their image and activities not yet exposed.

    Blogs certainly have become a medium of disclosure by whistleblowers, and what is written is typically authentic.

    While one disadvantage of blogs is the potential lack of reliability, blogs however do allow in addition to the comments of its readers the posting of authentic documents that typically are not created to be viewed by the public.

    For example, blogger Dr. Peter Rost, a whistleblower himself, not long ago posted a newsletter published by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca on his blog site.

    This particular newsletter was given to him by AstraZeneca's employees who called themselves the ‘AZ Group of Seven’, with the intent of this group being to bring to the attention of others the illegal activity of off-label promotion of one of their cancer drugs promoted by their employer.

  • Ignorance continued:

    Yet this by amazement is not what caught the attention of so many who viewed the posted newsletter read with great interest by others.

    It was instead a comment included in this newsletter that was stated by former regional AZ manager Mike Zubalagga, who in this newsletter posted on Dr Rost's blog site, referred to doctors’ offices as ‘buckets of money’.

    This and other statements by this man were written during an interview with him by another and then published in this newsletter. Again, the statement was authentic and in writing in this newsletter, which added credibility to the proof that it actually happened.

    Mr. Zubalagga was fired the next day due to this comment and its potential effect on the image of his employer. His manager resigned soon afterwards.

    And there have been other whistleblower blog cases in addition to this one, so blogs have become a very powerful and threatening medium of information release that does not allow others to prevent such releases.

    This is true freedom of information- free of alteration or omission- perhaps one step closer to a form of communication utopia, perhaps, and with the ability to both harm and protect others.

    Yet again, the information on these blogs should not be taken as absolute truth without proof to verify claims that may be made. Of course, documents that are authentic will be realized by others, as illustrated with the above example.

    And this, in my opinion, is the blog’s greatest value, combined with the comments on blogs from the growing number of readers who are allowed to contribute to the subject matter so quickly, which fuels the objectives of the blogs.

    Like other written statements, some on such internet sites are composed with respect of the written word. Others are not.

    It's the freedom that may be most appealing of this new medium which has the ability to convert citizens into journalists who want to contribute to an issue of their concern they share with the blogger.

    Because we, the public, have a right to know what we are entitled to know and what we want to know. This is especially true if the information could potentially be adverse to our well-being.

    Ignorance is bliss, but knowledge is power.

    “Information is the seed of an idea, and only grows when it’s watered.” — Heinz V. Berger

    Dan Abshear

  • Initially, I completely agree that blogging has many benefits aside from ROI. I learn more, know more, think better, and enjoy my practice more because of blogging.

    On to ROI, your post assumes that only small-potatoes clients come through blogging. I disagree.

    I agree that, in the size of potatoes you guys deal with as mass tort defenders, blogging looks like a diversion.

    But that's because you guys deal with potatoes the size of oil tankers. Oil tankers with clearly planned trips — when AstraZeneca is served a complaint alleging a class action of over a million patients, there's only a couple folks they'll consider.

    In other realms, though, just going off of the direct benefits of blogging, I have had multiple clients with seven-figure cases learn of me and retain me exclusively through the blog. Each one of these cases — none of which involved referral fees, a big deal in my contingent fee business — justified the ROI.

    Beyond that, I've made many, many connections through blogging, connections stronger than those I've made through bar events and cocktail parties and the like. The ROI on that is hard to see, but, as you note in your post, few lawyers would say it's a waste of time.

    Those connections have, in multiple circumstances, panned out, and either directed cases my way or resulted in additional connections.

    Will CalPERS start googling around if they're about to launch a securities suit against Citigroup? Of course not. Did the Third Circuit skim twitter to find someone to help with the Kozinski investigation? Nope.

    But I don't get soft tissue accident cases through my blog. I get businesses and investors with claims that most definitely warrant a conflict check, and indeed warrant full-throttle contingent fee litigation.

  • Anonymous

    Depending on which state you practice in, a blog may be considered an advertisement, and you have to submit each advertisement, along with an application fee, to the bar association for review and approval. That process doesn't lend itself to the loose and informal feel of a blog.

    Also, when you have a blog, you are essentially making a commitment to your readers to post regularly — if not daily, then at least weekly. So it's not the same as agreeing to accept a request to write a piece for a periodical or to give a speech, which require one-time commitments of resources.