Just-In-Time Blogging: The Value of Using a Ghost Blogger

An article this week in Bloomberg BNA’s Big Law Business declared, in my view correctly, that blogs have become a natural way for individual lawyers and practice groups to distinguish themselves from competitors and position themselves as experts within a specific practice or industry. More than 80 percent of the nation’s largest law firms now publish blogs, the article pointed out.

The article quoted Mark Silow, firmwide managing partner of Fox Rothschild, as saying he was “amazed” by the amount of business that a blog can generate.

Silow told Bloomberg, “If you can blog today on a decision that came out this morning involving a really specific technical aspect of the law, you’ve now portrayed yourself as a current expert.

He’s absolutely right – but it’s a lot easier said than done.

How many law firms can blog “today” on a decision that came out “this morning”? Let’s see: You probably have to get hold of an associate who is busy on a pile of client matters with deadlines. He or she would have to find time in an already-packed day to get up to speed on the decision and write something that is knowledgeable and timely – and that reads like a blog post, not a legal brief. Good luck with that. A week’s lag time is more likely, not a single day.

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Instead, what if the firm had a legal writer, a “ghost blogger” on contract to do just this type of work? This is someone who is paid to understand the law in a particular area and to write about it quickly and skillfully. That way, a partner could well have a draft blog item of 400 words on his or her desk in hours, not days, and Silow’s dream of a just-in-time blog post that shows the firm’s current expertise might come true.

From a management perspective, you’d like to think you’re paying your associates several hundred dollars an hour to meet their deadlines and serve the firm’s clients, not to drop everything else and write a blog post. You’re surely paying this ghost blogger, if you have one, a lot less. (And be assured: You can pay a lot less than $350 an hour to a legal ghost writer and still far exceed the going rate for freelance writers.)

Hiring a ghost blogger is as sensible as hiring a PR firm to pitch a story or an advertising agency to develop an ad campaign. All of them are outside specialists who work under the supervision of the firm and its partners. No one expects the partners in a law firm to write their press releases or their Website copy.

Silow as well as other industry consultants like Kevin O’Keefe believe a good blog with timely and interesting content is a great business generation tool. There is no shame in relying on a blogging expert to do the heavy lifting – under your direction.