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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)!