This is an article I recently submitted to the Nexus Law Journal, by their request. I thought I might as well post it here too:
Blogs (or as we say in the legal Blog community, 'Blawgs') are being integrated into the practice of law in much the same way that the internet has become an essential part of most businesses. This technology practice first crept into our arena slowly, with a handful of Blawg sites, and has since grown forcefully and steadily. The growth rate is being slowed only by those few senior bar members who are inflexibly tied to the old ways of doing things.
Blawgs assist in the private practice of law by helping us to disseminate some basic legal information. Not legal advice, but general legal information.
Blawgs help potential clients select a law firm. By providing insight into the firm, and basic legal information, the Blawg can go beyond the typical sterile website to help the public find an attorney best suited for their needs, their personality, and their approach. The speed and ease with which Blog publishing can occur, invites sidebar and personal notes more readily than traditional publishing. Periodic personal or humanistic Blog entries give the reader a sense of understanding of the person behind the Blog, and help the reader to understand and connect with the writer.
Blawgs help to educate the clients before the initial consultation. A significant percentage of the clientele that approach our firm have already conducted basic research into their legal subject matter. By providing basic legal information on the website and Blawg, it enables us to begin the initial consultation at a higher level, and be more productive with the time allotted for the first meeting.
Blawgs serve as a contact point between clients and the law firm during the representation and after the representation has concluded. General updates to law and local events keep clients coming back to the Blawg. And, through 'comments' functionality, ongoing interaction on a general level can be maintained with the clientele, the public, and the Blawg community.
The Blawg community serves as a sounding board on legal issues and information, and helps us to edit our written product. Blawgs help the attorney to keep in touch with recent developments in his area of practice. Bloggers read Blogs. They are quick to link to good Blogs and otherwise comment upon or critique Blog entries. And Blawgs provide a forum of communication between legal professionals in the field to discuss current issues and share research and opinions.
The low cost of Blog publishing provides the small and solo firms with an opportunity to be exposed to the public that competes with, or even exceeds, the web exposure of larger firms. It is a tremendous value in that regard. The Blog venue has clearly had a tremendous impact upon my practice and the establishment and maintenance of my firm's clientele. I shudder to think where I would be without it.