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Anatomy of a Civil Trial LegalTech

Anatomy of a Trial Lawyer Blog

John J. Cord L

awyers are businesspeople. Even the most charitable and pro bono-minded among us cannot survive without

income. Like plumbers, doctors and

landscapers, we sell our services. Our clients buy our time, experience, education and training. Without clients today, our businesses have no tomorrow. When it seems that there are two dollars of expenses

for every dollar of income, marketing decisions are especially crucial. Lawyer advertising has a negative perception, but like every other profession we too must market our services. Some are paying hundreds (or even thousands) per month in phone book advertising. Done right, phone book advertising can be successful. Done wrong, it is simply a screaming match with other attorneys—bigger ads, more color, and more ads. Television adertisements, because of the expense, are usually the prerogative of big law firms.1

Many of these methods

are less likely to work for newer lawyers or smaller firms, who don’t have the connections or seed money to sustain a practice through those methods. Many of these methods, particularly phone book marketing, will be less successful with the advancement of technology. Phone book advertising is certainly declining.


survey put out last year by the Local Search Association (formerly the Yellow Pages Association—yes, they have an interest in the outcome) shows that 76% of people used search engines, versus 74% who used print yellow pages in the past year.2

One important omission from the survey is frequency

of use for print versus internet—I’d be willing to bet that the frequency with which we use Google or other search engines3

1 Whether and to what degree television advertisements are effective is another question entirely. 2 Chris Piepho, 2011 Yellow Pages vs. Online Search Usage Survey ( Jun. 13, 2011) <http://>.

3 It is undisputed that Google is the most widely-used search engine, with around 65% of the market share, according to Google’s chairman in November, 2011. Matt Rosoff, Eric Schmidt, Actually, Google's Market Share Is Lower Tan You Tink (Nov. 4, 2011) <http://articles.businessinsider. com/2011-11-04/tech/30358731_1_ceo-eric-schmidt-google-competitors-hitwise>. Tis article will use Google as the primary example (and occasionally use Google as a verb).

is exponentially higher than the corresponding phone book usage. Just ask yourself—when was the last time you pulled out the phone book? So why blog? It is one more arrow in your quiver for

marketing and internet domination. Te phone books, for example, have you competing with hundreds of other lawyers for one keyword—“lawyer.” Te internet spreads the love around—you can compete against dozens of other lawyers (or fewer) for keywords like “Maryland social security disability attorney,” or “Timonium personal injury lawsuit,” or “Pikesville workers’ compensation lawyer.” Also, the costs are not as high—the playing field is leveled. After modest set-up costs, even the small firm or new lawyer has the elbow grease (time and discipline, really) to consistently blog.

I. Three Types of Trial Lawyer Blogs4 Law bloggers can be distilled into three paradigms. Te

first is the Academic. Te Academic cares nothing about marketing—his writing is often an intellectual exercise, and sometimes a chance to show off his left brain. He writes because he can. His blog posts are chock-full of citations (in meticulous Blue Book format), have no grammatical or punctuation errors, could be cut-and-pasted wholesale into any brief on the topic, and have a minimum of 1,000 words (though 2,500 is not uncommon).

Regular readers

of Academic blogs have learned to use the Pg Up/Pg Dn keys on their keyboards, because their scrolling fingers have developed unhealthy repetitive motion injuries. Te second paradigm is the News-Drone. Te News- cares

Drone only about Search Engine Optimization

(SEO—more about that later). His posts are not meant to be read. His blogs are often hidden from easy access because they shouldn’t be read. Each post reads like a news report,

4 Credit for much of this blogging paradigm rightfully belongs to Ronald V. Miller, Jr., Personal Injury Lawyer Blogs: Toughts on Blogging (Aug. 24, 2009) <http://www.marylandinjurylawyerblog. com/2009/08/personal_injury_lawyer_blogs_t.html>.

Trial Reporter / Spring 2012 49

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