Posted on April 17, 2019 by Joseph Lamport
I’ve been meaning to write about what’s been going on at LexBlog since late last year, when Bob Ambrogi joined them as Editor in Chief. It is one the most interesting developments in the legal publishing industry, such as it is; after all, this is a publishing market which hasn’t exactly been thriving in recent years, as many of the large legacy players (such as ALM Media, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg and Lexis-Nexis) have struggled to maintain their footing and floundered with their business strategy, not exactly positioning themselves to launch ambitious new undertakings.
But Bob Ambrogi joining Kevin O’Keefe puts LexBlog in a different position -- a real force to reckon with in the market as a provider of current legal awareness information. LexBlog has already amassed a network of more than 22,000 legal bloggers who feed content into their distribution engine. They have put in place a platform that can fill the space left by the retreating roar of the legacy players and there’s no apparent reason why they can’t continue to grow it from here; Bob and Kevin’s vision seems to be that LexBlog will become the next premiere legal information provider. The future of legal journalism is their tagline and the way they succinctly express Lexblog’s mission, in part, which they see coming to fruition with their wire service and syndication platform that aggregates and distributes content from their expanding network of legal bloggers.
I think the LexBlog approach may be spot on. If it works they will have cracked the code of the digital era with a strategy for building their media brand without directly employing a huge team of journalists. The future of legal journalism does not seem to depend so much on professional journalists, at least not as much as it did in days gone by. But as Kevin O’Keefe makes clear in his recent blog posts, the power of the printing press today having been democratized, every practicing lawyer has the opportunity to participate and reap the benefits of being a citizen journalist, whose opinions and insights may be sought and shared with readers around the world. It’s a call to legal professionals everywhere to take up the mantle and join the ranks of legal-bloggers and citizen-journalists; in other words, lawyers may henceforth carry out much of the traditional journalistic function with their blogging, which is no longer being adequately performed by legacy media companies.
Now in the interests of adhering to the good journalistic practice here at PinHawk let me make a brief disclaimer. I’ve known Bob Ambrogi for more than 25 years, including a stint when we were colleagues at American Lawyer Media, and I’ve always held him in the highest regard. He has great chops as a writer and editor, a compendious knowledge of the legal market that he has built up over the years and his work always evidences the utmost professionalism and integrity. If anyone is capable organizing an army of lawyer-journalist-bloggers to replace the old cadre of legal journalists Bob would seem cut out for the task.
But much as I admire Bob and what LexBlog is setting out to accomplish, I do have a problem with the idea of making journalism the primary focus of any lawyer’s blogging activity. Journalism, as I see it, is at best a relatively small part of the reason why it makes sense for a lawyer to blog. Any lawyer or other professional for that matter who wants to be successful as a blogger really has set out to learn to think like a publisher and a journalist at the same time. I say this with all due respect to Bob who I consider to be one of the best legal journalists I have ever had the pleasure of working with. But when it comes to building a brand and a reputation for yourself, when it comes to building a platform for your professional success, journalism, by itself, just isn’t enough to carry all that weight. If blogging is going to prove be worthwhile as part of the development strategy of your legal practice, I’m afraid you are going to have to roll up your sleeves and get dirty, by which I mean to say you are going to have to engage fully with the commercial and marketing side of publishing, not just the glamorous editorial side of the operation. You can’t just write your blog, publish it on Lexblog and think that you’re done with it. That will never get you the results you want or need.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s good to be a journalist. But if you are looking for real R.O.I. on the time and effort you invest in your blogging, then it’s time to learn something about publishing too. That’s why the key to successful blogging for your law practice is to write like a journalist and think like a publisher. In the coming weeks I’ll be writing more about what that means.