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With more than 30 movies, more than 270 episodes and more than 80 books and short stories, Perry Mason probably didn’t need a blog. It wouldn’t have hurt, but he seemed to do all right on his own, with an impressive percentage of cases won somewhere in the 99 percent range.

However, if you’re not Perry Mason, a blog could be a useful tool for your practice: A blog can bring clients to your law practice by raising your visibility and positioning you as an accessible, helpful expert on a specific topic or niche practice, as Amy Campbell has noted in her blog. In other words, it gives you exposure: Exposure to clients, exposure to potential clients, exposure to colleagues and exposure to networking opportunities.

While there are two main issues lawyers should be aware of – ethical issues, such breaching the duty of confidentiality and rules of professional conduct that set guidelines for advertising – there are plentyof good reasons to blog (or, in this case, blawg, as law blogs are known). Blogs are part of the content – quality content – that you need to boost your rank on search engine results pages. Each blog is a separate page with tags, links and metadata that get picked up by search engines and figured into their algorithms that determine page rank. That’s  an important benefit because 38% of people use the Internet to find an attorney, but 75% of people won’t look beyond the first page when they do a Google search. You want to be on that first page – and as far up on that first page as possible. The way to get there is by using a three-pronged approach – content, links and social media. (Forbes writer Jason DeMers provides an excellent overview of this approach here). Finally, blogging helps an attorney develop new ideas, improve research skills and keep up-to-date on legal developments.

Business development

A law practice is like any other business that needs customer fuel to keep the engine running, and that requires some form of business development. The statistics on the results companies get from regular blogging are pretty convincing:

  • B2B marketers who use blogs generate 67% more leads than those that do not (Hubspot).
  • Blogs rank as the third most influential digital resource guiding consumer purchasing decisions (Marketing Magazine).
  • 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs (BlogHer)
  • 39% of lawyers have acquired clients through blogging (My Case)

Perry Mason BookYou should think about who your blog audience will be. Will it be for your clients? Other lawyers? It’s important to know who your target audience will be because you’ll want to write your blog in a voice that’s appropriate for your reader: clients will appreciate getting information in layman’s terms, while more complex information delivered in more technical language would be useful for colleagues. There are several audiences for a lawyer’s blog:

Current clients. Your blog can keep them informed in areas of interest, answer common questions, and provide them with useful content that’s relevant to them.

Prospective clients. An informative, easy-to-understand blog that shows that you are an expert in your field can draw new clients to you.

Lawyers in your practice area. Providing useful information to other lawyers also establishes you as an expert in your area of law and gives you exposure should they need an out-of-state referral.

The general lawyer population. Your blog is a great way to establish dialogue with other members of the lawyer community and is a vehicle for networking opportunities.

Don’t Forget Social Media

Your blog should be paired with social media – Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook – and your website for maximum impact. It’s all part of inbound marketing, in which you create helpful, relevant content and distribute it to people who are interested in it. It draws them to you, so when they need an attorney and they’re ready to call, you’ve already established something of a relationship with them. Outbound, or traditional, marketing pushes promotional messages out in a disruptive, scatter shot way, hoping someone hears it. With inbound marketing, you are speaking to the people who are interested in what you have to offer to begin with.

Traditionally, lawyers have had to get business through referrals and networking. Inbound marketing takes away some of that work and allows you to market 24/7 by letting your blog, social media and website generate leads for you.

As long as you’re not violating any ethics rules or divulging  client information, there should be no reason you can’t blog – except for time or commitment. In that case, there are services that can help you, or you could hire someone to ghost write the blog for you. While you might want someone with a law degree to write blogs aimed at other lawyers, finding a general content provider who can present ideas in language accessible to your audience might be the best route for a blog aimed at current and potential clients. So think of this as a case: The Case of the Missing Blog. You don’t have to be Perry Mason to solve it.