Blogging Tips From ALA

Came back from the awesomely large Association of Legal Administrators conference in MontréalOur session on Practical Paranoia – Remote Computing doesn’t really fit the Slaw agenda, so I won’t bore folks on the topic – and that’s why no live blogging from ALA in Montréal by Slaw this week, only to realize that I should have delayed my train to stay for the session following ours. The smart thing would have been to hear the discussion on Blogs: The Hot New Technology for Communication and Information.

The session included a presentation by Bonnie ShuchaBonnie Shucha, Reference & Electronic Services Librarian at the University of Wisconsin Law Library., doing a solo session that ALA pegged as one of the highlights of the day. She – and our friends from ALA – have generously posted her deck.

Her rationale for firm blogging covers five points:

A blog – or blawg (a law related blog) – a popular new style of publishing on the web, can be used for Internal as well as External communication:

* to enhance the visibility of your firm and its attorneys;
* to establish expertise in an area of law;
* for project and knowledge management ;
* to monitor what others are saying about your firm and your clients; and
* for internal communication such as announcements for staff, to archive the firm’s policies, FAQs, etc.

Among the nuggets offered – courtesy of Larry Bodine and Nathan Burke, who were there – were:

avoid using software, because “Blogger is being overrun with spam blogs and readers avoid it”

Make the name very descriptive of the content -– like “Security Law in California.” Well Slaw’s not exactly wearing it’s meaning on its sleeve.

Link to the blog from the firm’s Web site and include its URL on all firm communications, letterhead and business cards -– but make sure it’s something the firm is committed to. With PHP technology you can have the most recent topics of your blog appear on your firm Web site. It does put pressure on the attorneys to write posts and it jazzes up the Web site. Which is no bad thing

Tell your clients and everybody about your blog.

Register with search engines & directories.

Use keywords in the titles of your posts -– make each title descriptive of the post and more people will read it. Good thing they didn’t hear about our Stephen Harper and Pamela Anderson title – we broke that rule in spades

Link to other blogs. “This is huge in the blogosphere. If another attorney has a related blog, ask to post reciprocal links,” she said. It’s called a “blogroll,” a list of blogs that the blogger readers.

Offer your own unique perspective.

Encourage reader feedback and solicit comments. “It’s a lot more enjoyable for the blogger when you get a response”.

If you’re looking for a solid rationale for blogging on legal topics in your organzaition, Bonnie’s deck is a great place to start.


  1. Blogger is not the most reliable platform, but for a free service I’m content for now. It would not be my first choice if I was starting over, but the search engines treat it the same as other services, and rebuilding a link network can be a substantial task.

    Other bloggers would re-direct links, as I’ve done with Bonnie’s (Wisblawg was formerly on Blogger), but re-registering with online directories and feed services can be an issue.

    I would also comment that starting a new blog today is completely possible, especially if one picks a niche topic they love, and sticks with it. Always a key task, IMO.

    Finally, I’m glad to see Bonnie getting the press with Larry Bodine (et al.). She’s a very committed blogger & deserves it!

  2. I agree with Steve’s comments. Using Blogger for a professional blog is akin to using a Hotmail account for your business. You can do it, but it possibly isn’t the most polished way to go about things. On the other hand, everything I have done on my personal blogs has been free thanks in large part to Blogger. It has been a fantastic learning ground. It may not be perfect, but it is perhaps the easiest blogging application to use. When I started out there was a free basic service and then a higher level paid service. When Google took it over, all the added features were made free. That was like Christmas.

    That being said, most people don’t differentiate between blogs on Blogspot or anything else. The average reader is more interested in the content and doesn’t distinguish between platforms.

  3. Incidentally, Simon, thanks for covering this for us!!


  4. Nice summary, Simon. I’m sorry that you couldn’t make it to the session.

    I totally agree with the comments on Blogger – it’s a fine service, but for a professional law firm blog, there are better choices. I like Connie’s analogy to Hotmail. I might use that myself.