Last week, Peggy and I returned home from Nashville, where we attended our second in-person Clio Cloud Conference (#ClioCon), the tenth overall and eighth live legal tech nerd prom hosted by Vancouver’s favorite super-cool CRM software provider.* This is always a great event, although as Bob Ambrogi posted, echoing our thoughts, “when the two days were over, I left feeling that this year’s conference was a bit off the A-game I had come to expect.” I think that’s primarily down to pent-up demand and a whole bunch of us not remembering how to have fun at a nerd prom, so it just didn’t seem like the truly connected event that we anticipated. (Clio CEO) Jack Newton’s response on Twitter tells me he gets it.
It was also about a not-quite-right venue. My fellow Kansas City lawyer/blogger Mike Whelan described the site as the “Rainforest-Cafe-as-hotel-venue that is the Gaylord Opryland“… a very apt description. As hotels go, this one is quite nice, and we got a few more Marriott points out of the deal, but something about it seemed, well, manufactured and artificial. Although I hate this word (it’s overused), it just seemed inauthentic.
And that’s at the heart of still more commentary following ClioCon, from (LexBlog** CEO) Kevin O’Keefe, who I first met at ClioCon 2017 in New Orleans, and who posted last week:
Lawyers seeing what I’d call spam blogs – content written for lawyers, not by them, solely to achieve search engine rankings, as opposed to real and authentic insight written by a lawyer – are turned off.
And then, he elaborated on Monday:
y posts of last week following #ClioCon hit home with lawyers turned off by inauthentic “legal blogs” published by marketers, not lawyers, to garner web traffic for law firms.
So much so that lawyers commented that they didn’t want to blog for fear of looking unprofessional.
[Italics mine.] When I first thought of starting this obscure little publication six years ago, several colleagues cautioned me against it.
- It’ll look unseemly, they said.
- It’ll look like those personal injury lawyers’ billboards on the way to the airport (many of those guys are millionaires who do great things for their clients).
- It isn’t lawyerly.
A friend in the CLE business suggested to me not long ago that I ought to be able to get CLE credit for my writing. Missouri credits authors of “monographs” that advance the practice. Well, our regulators poured water on that idea… apparently they don’t think blogging is sufficiently professional either. I’ve also been urging my alma mater and other law schools to provide a class on legal blogging (see O’Keefe), but the legal academy poo-poohs the mere idea with very subtle scorn, despite the fact that my practice is absolutely thriving– like, stupid busy, for years–thanks to blogging.
Still, the poo-poohing isn’t entirely unwarranted. As I was preparing to leave my last gig and hang out my shingle, I talked to a team of “legal marketing experts” who insisted that they and their team should write my blog posts for me. You handle the lawyering, they said. Let us handle the content.
Needless to say, I was flabbergasted, and I ran away from that company like I had my hair on fire. Few things in legal practice seem so skeezy as lawyers who have someone else write their blog posts for them. It’s fake, it’s fraudulent, and it truly is unprofessional, which is why blogging is viewed so negatively. And why so many lawyers don’t want to blog– for fear of looking unprofessional. O’Keefe urges legal bloggers to do it in a real, way, in person, in their authentic voice. He finishes thusly:
There’s more than just a place for lawyers looking to blog in a real way. The time to do so is now, while at the same time focusing on the legacy you’ll leave behind.
In a world where people are turned off by so much information, or content marketing, from those not looking to establish authenticity or trust, you’ll proudly stick out from the crowd.
Ain’t that the truth. That’s why I write the way I do– this isn’t a law review (snooze), it’s not a bar association journal (limited circulation), and it’s not a hornbook (um, huh?). This is a nuts and bolts guide to how things work in my very tight little niche. If it helps my colleagues get things done on their own, so be it. If it gives them just a skoosh more confidence that their clients’ blood and treasure are protected, even better. And if it prompts them to ask me to lend a hand… I’m a pretty lucky lawyer.
I wrote at the beginning (and it’s still on our “About” page) that just about all of our posts will be cheeky, irreverent, and peppered with humor… but we promise, never mean, never judgmental, and hopefully never offensive or inappropriate.
You will find smart-ass commentary here, because it’s authentic, and sometimes scathing satire is needed to right what’s wrong– or even to give somebody assurance that they’re not completely nuts. Above all, it’s my voice– not some stodgy treatise that has to conform to a style manual.*** Apparently, my clients think that matters.
For the record, we’ve already bought our tickets to ClioCon 2023, back in Nashville. Hit us up if you’d like to connect.
* Yes, I’m a Clio subscriber. Neat system. I have received no compensation for this statement (pssst, hey, Jack).
** Yes, this is published on LexBlog. Neat system. I have received no compensation for this statement (pssst, hey, Kevin).
*** I launched this blog in a bar in The Hague. I published this post from the Bier Station in Kansas City. That oughta tell you how incredibly stodgy it is.