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October 11, 2007

"You Ask...I Answer" - I'm Still In Law School. Should I Be Blogging?

This question fresh in from a law student who wonders the following:

What if you're not practicing yet?  I'll be taking the bar in Feb, and although I kinda like the idea of a blog (I just started one, but I'm still playing around with it), are there any advantages to having one if you haven't started practicing?  I can't get clients at this point, and I can't really call myself a specialist of anything, either (although I have an idea as to what I want to do)...

I've been meaning to post on this for quite some time because it is an important question.  Should you be blogging while you are in law school?  Because this question was asked of me I'm assuming the author wants to know the value if she is going to open a solo practice.  On the other hand, should you be blogging if you know you want to work for another?  So, I'm going to give the answer to all law students regardless their ambitions.  In one word..... 

YES!  And the sooner the better!

And here is why.  Blogging is the least expensive, most productive and powerful marketing tool available to law students today to market...you guessed it....themselves! 

Through blogging you get a variety of benefits at low to no cost which were unavailable to law students years ago.  You can self-publish and market who you are long before you try to get that job or look to be hired by clients as you open your own solo practice.

Imagine, you are a student interested in criminal law. But clearly you are not a lawyer so you are not going to positioning yourself as such. As a lay person and a law student and a human being functioning in this society you have the absolute right to comment on criminal cases posing thoughtful questions from the position of analysis.  For example: Britney Spears (oh, g-d..I'm using her as an example!).  She is in a custody battle for her children.  You have a gut reaction but can try to view it from an analytical point of view if you are interested in family law and have some externship or internship experience, or even personal experience.  Comment on the news, like the Jena 6 not just as a law student but a human being in this country impacted by the same.  You can blog from a passion other than the law to get practice on the art of blogging. And here is what will happen.

  • You will be developing a skill (blogging), learning the platform, developing comfort with the latest technologies, and building community all without the pressure of earning a living simultaneously.
  • You will have created an 'about' page with your photo describing who you are, your undergraduate degree, your work history, hobbies, etc. and your expected date of graduation from law school as well as when you anticipate passing the bar
  • With proper SEO (Search Engine Optimization) you will hopefully have relegated any indiscretions you might have circulating on the web to the 97th page on Google and controlled your internet presence long before you seek out that all important summer or post-graduation job.
  • You show potential employers your internet savvyiness PLUS
  • When you circulate your resumes and the HR department or practitioner searches you out, they see a blog, a personality, a well-connected young man or woman AND
  • Someone who could probably teach them how to blog for success themselves.
  • You will be light years ahead of your peers in the job search because you will have already shown your authenticity, likeability, intelligence, thoughtfullness, progressiveness and smiling face to your potential employers.

If you are going solo upon graduation:

  • You will have developed the number one all important marketing tool for your solo practice;
  • Depending upon the blogging content you chose you could conceivably immediately change a few words next to your name, add the Law Offices of and ESQ.
  • Change your About page to include Date of Admission to the Bar (or not)
  • Put your URL on your business cards...all within 10 minutes of being sworn in.
  • Just purchase your domain names (if you haven't already parked them in anticipation of) and forward your URLs to your blog...and VOILA!  You are up and running the number one tool to reaching clients and establishing your authority in your chosen areas of practice.

In any endeavor, getting employment, getting clients, building relationships of any type, you need to cultivate the trifecta.  What is the trifecta?  Relationships are based upon three things.  People need to  1) know you; 2) like you, and; 3) trust you.  And studies show after six or seven exposures to you they feel like they do know you.

So, how does this work with blogging?  Well, if you are writing consistent quality content on topics of your choice and you have gained some readership you are creating exposures.  Whether they get to 'know you' in the true sense is a philosophical matter but let's assume for business purposes they do know you because of the persona you are projecting.  Your content attracts others to link to you.  Then readers start to comment.  You thank them for their comment and encourage conversation.  Some do so through direct e-mail to the reader, others create the dialogue in the commentary on their blog and still others do both.  Now they are starting to like you because they feel valued.  And when your content remains consistent, your message consistent, readers start to trust what you have to say.  It's that simple and that challenging.  (But there is so much more on this particular topic...we'll stop here.)

I can't tell you how many long time solos are struggling to get their blogs up and running while practicing and after throwing hard-earned money at traditional advertising and marketing that no longer cuts it.  You could have this powerful tool functional and recognized the minute your admitted to the bar, ready to go.

An internet presence is no longer an option when it comes to reaching clients or potential referrers of clients.  Blogging is inexpensive in terms of dollars; a little more investment in terms of time.  But when you are talking about running lean and mean, maximizing return on all your investments blogging is the way to go for all the reasons described above.  Learn it while you are in school.  There are several well known student bloggers who are doing quite well and showing their industriousness while understanding the time and energy they are expending now will give them a leg up professionally.

We all know how competitive the job market is.  Everyone could use an advantage whether getting that all important summer associate's position or post-graduation job or opening their own solo practice.  This is the advantage you've been looking for.  And if you are student blogger, please share your experiences.

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I met a law student last night who felt somewhat nervous about the fact that she did not have a blog. Did she need to start one, she fretted. It may surprise readers here to learn that my advice to... [Read More]

Comments

Practical Lawyer

Be careful putting yourself on paper too much as a law student. The more opinions you express on your blog, the greater possibility there is for alienating a potential employer. Tread carefully, young Jedi.

Susan Cartier Liebel

Practical Lawyer,

There is wisdom in your words...to be circumspect. But if you are looking to be authentic when sharing your opinions on the latest O.J. case or pose questions about the legalities of another case you may have heard about, there is no harm. It is when you use your blog to vent irresponsibly, attack another, or anything along those lines, yes, you had better be careful.

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