We keep being surprised by these folks who insist that lawyers need to blog. That it’s a great way to generate clients, pumping up the old SEO so potential clients see your website and hire you. That advice always strikes us as the equivalent of saying you ought to name your law firm with a couple of leading As so it’s on the first page of the yellow pages. Not that many people call lawyers just because they were listed first in the phone book, nor because they popped up in a Google search. And the ones who do aren’t necessarily the kind of client you really want. Scott Greenfield had a cool post on this the other day, using his own (very impressive) blog stats to demonstrate that it just doesn’t convert into clients.
Lawyers absolutely do not need to blog. Blogging, in and of itself, does not generate clients. Looking at just the bottom line, most lawyers could spend the time it would take to blog doing more profitable marketing like meeting other lawyers at functions (most good clients still come from referrals from other lawyers, after all), or just spending the time working and billing some more hours.
We certainly don’t do this to attract clients. Heck, we hardly ever write about our own practice here, much less tout our abilities, experience, or any of the kinds of things a potential client might want to know. Back in college, we sold encyclopedias door to door, so we know a thing or two about getting the old foot in the door and making a sale. We don’t do any of that here.
So why do we write?
Because we enjoy it. No other reason.
We write for an audience of one: Nathan Burney. We’re genuinely surprised every time someone else tells us they read something here. We’re like, “really? You saw that? That’s weird.” Our own wife doesn’t even bother to look at it. We’re not sure if our parents have ever read anything here.
That’s really freeing, because that lets us write about whatever we feel like writing about. We don’t have to worry about how it might affect our page rank on Google. We don’t have to worry about turning off some potential client. We don’t have to worry about offending anyone. So we write about what we like. And as it happens, we really get a kick out of the law. Yeah, that’s not something many people would admit to, but who asked you? And wait, are you really reading this? Weird.
One of the big things we enjoy about writing this blog is the fact that it forces us to actually noodle stuff through, and figure out what we really think about it. Soon after we started writing it, we realized that we were paying even more attention to what was going on in the law. We were analyzing cases even more thoroughly, and coming up with ideas and insights that we could use in real life. And it was making us a better lawyer. Even if we had zero readers, we’d keep writing this thing for that reason alone. It really makes us better at what we do during the rest of the day.
That said, it must be admitted for the sake of honesty that a large number of our clients actually did come to us because they’d read this blog. It never ceases to amaze us, but it keeps happening. And it’s all kinds of cases — everything from insider trading and financial frauds, to military justice, to stuff like assaults and weapons and drugs.
Why? We don’t do any of the things on this blog that the SEO mavens and internet marketeers insist on. So why? You’d better believe we’ve asked our clients why this blog led them to call us, especially since half the time it’s for a kind of case we’ve never even written about. Pretty much all of them say it’s because they got to see how we really think, and they liked the way we thought. Fair enough. There are worse ways to start finding someone to defend you.
It sure has nothing to do with the number of hits we get. Greenfield (and, we suspect, many many others) can get more hits on a single post than our entire blog sometimes gets in a month. (And don’t even talk to us about our firm’s main website — that thing gets 50 hits on a good day. That thing sure isn’t driving business — but it isn’t meant to. It’s there mainly to assure existing clients who want to see such a thing. We’ve gotten clients from it, sure, but not many.)
And it also has nothing to do with how frequently we post. Clients rarely call because of something we just posted. It’s usually because of stuff posted months ago.
So even though this thing does result in new clients, we sure don’t feel any pressure to keep writing to get business. It’s not the point, and it never will be.
The point is, we really get a kick out of writing about doings in criminal law. We have opinions and theories, and we like sharing them, whether anyone reads them or not. It makes us happy.
And so far as we can tell, that’s the only reason why any lawyer should blog.