When lawyers hear blogging they think marketing. Raising their visibility. Getting web traffic. Enhancing their reputation.

That’s all good, but blogging by lawyers can mean a heck of a lot more to our society. At the same time, lawyers can realize their business development goals through such blogging.

Take a couple cases. One is blogging on legal stories in the news. The second is blogging on current affairs.

Look at both cases, highlighted by developments in the last couple weeks:

The first is blogging on legal stories. Lawyers are far better equipped to report on lawsuits, criminal prosecutions, corporate legal affairs, and consumer class actions than reporters working for the mass media.

Can we really trust mass media reporters to get legal stories right? That’s the question asked by attorney Ken White (@popehat) at Popehat this last weekend.

Ken’s answer is no, when it comes to complex issues. I agree.

Ken looks at the pending lawsuit brought by the survivors of the Colorado movie theatre mass shooting and relatives of the slain against the owner of the theater.

The defense recently filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the judge should grant judgment to the defense without trial because the shooting was not foreseeable to the theater.

For those not familiar with the law, summary judgment can be awarded by the court (the judge) before trial, effectively holding that no trial by jury is necessary. Summary judgment can be granted only if there are no disputes of “material” fact requiring a trial to resolve, and in applying the law to the undisputed facts, one party is clearly entitled to judgment.

The United States District Judge evaluated the motion and denied it, though personally concluding that the theater could not have foreseen the shootings:

None of these facts, even when taken together, compels the conclusion that Cinemark knew or should have known of the danger that the patrons of Auditorium 9 faced. I reiterate that this Court is in no way holding as a matter of law that Cinemark should have known of the danger of someone entering one of its theaters through the back door and randomly shooting innocent patrons. I hold only that a court cannot grant summary judgment on what is normally a question of fact under Colorado law unless the facts so overwhelmingly and inarguably point in Cinemark’s favor that it cannot be said that a reasonable jury could possibly side with the plaintiffs on that question. I am not convinced. Plaintiffs have come forward with enough – and it does not have to be more than just enough – to show that there is a genuine dispute of material fact. A genuine fact dispute must be resolved by the trier of fact, not by a court’s granting summary judgment. Whether the jury will resolve this issue in the plaintiffs’ favor is a different matter entirely.

Here’s the Denver Post’s headline:

Federal judge rules Aurora theater shooting was foreseeable

Wow.

Imagine what a Denver criminal defense lawyer regularly blogging could have offered. A sound and accurate explanation that would have spread via social media to reporters, bloggers, and the community at large.

Instead of inaccurate reporting adding to the public’s distrust of our legal system, we’d get an accurate report from someone the public can trust.

In the second case, blogging on current affairs was highlighted by ten WordPress bloggers who spoke out on Ferguson.

From the co-founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenwegg (@photomatt), the blogs offer a “fascinating spectrum of viewpoints from protesters to media to a blog by an anonymous police officer on duty in Ferguson.”

The WordPress.com community news site, Hot Off the Press, shares details on and from the ten Ferguson bloggers who “[i]n the days since Michael Brown’s shooting… took to their sites to share their thoughts on race, violence, media, and more.”

Lawyers don’t need to head to Ferguson to blog on the story. Though if they lived in St. Louis, they could. Firsthand feeds on Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and Facebook were as accurate, if not more accurate, than the nightly network news.

A Portland, Oregon lawyer, David Rossmiller, was named blogger of record by the Wall Street Journal for his 2007 blog coverage of State Farm’s alleged wrongful denial of Hurricane Katrina claims and the resulting Dickie Scruggs bribery prosecution. And Rossmiller never stepped foot in Mississippi where this was playing out.

Whether it’s Katrina or Ferguson, lawyers can add their reaction and keen insight based on their knowledge of the law and public affairs. With Ferguson, we have the right to freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, free speech, and civil rights, in addition to the possible criminal prosecution — all issues that require lawyer commentary.

Matt Mullenweg started WordPress to democratize publishing. Lawyers have been handed the keys to publish on legal news and current affairs – something we’ve never had before.

Seize the opportunity. Not only will you be contributing to the greater good, but you’ll realize your own goal of enhancing your reputation as a trusted and reliable authority on your area of the law.


Kevin O’Keefe (@kevinokeefe) is the CEO and founder of LexBlog, which empowers lawyers to increase their visibility and accelerate business relationships online. With LexBlog’s help, legal professionals use their subject matter expertise to drive powerful business development through blogging and social media. Visit LexBlog.com.

LexBlog also hosts LXBN, the world’s largest network of professional blogs. With more than 8,000 authors, LXBN is the only media source featuring the latest lawyer-generated commentary on news and issues from around the globe. Visit lxbn.com now.


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