This week marks the tenth anniversary of the launch of this blog. Every Monday morning since, come hell, high water, or in the middle of a trial, I’ve posted a new article — 534 articles, to be exact. I joke that if you don’t see a new post come Monday morning, check the obituaries.
I had no idea what to expect when I started the blog. Would anyone read it? Would I have enough material to write about every week? Would I have the time to write every week? How could I add value for the reader, beyond mere descriptions of recent court decisions in business divorce cases? Would the blog generate new clients and new relationships with other professionals in the field?
With ten years behind me, I can safely say my expectations have been exceeded more than I ever could have imagined. Here are some of the most important lessons blogging has taught me:
- Blogging Brings Relationships. The blog has fostered many new and lasting relationships with other lawyers, judges, academics, and business appraisers from across the country. We share ideas, cases and articles of interest, and use each other as sounding boards. We invite each other to speak at bar association meetings and legal education conferences. The growing network of relationships goes hand-in-hand with the growing recognition of business divorce as a distinct sub-genre of commercial litigation and legal theory in which clients are best served by lawyers and other professionals with specialized knowledge in the field. Ten years ago, I was one of very few lawyers who called themselves business divorce lawyers. Today, there are many lawyers across the country who identify themselves as specialists in business divorce, a handful of whom also have started blogging.
- Blogging Brings Clients. The biggest and most pleasant surprise from blogging has been its ability to attract new clients. Very early on, the blog became and has remained the primary generator of new clients big and small for my business divorce practice. Prior to the blog, for years I’d been writing about business divorce in traditional legal publications. The idea of putting my writing online came to me in the mid aughts, inspired by a couple of pioneering law blogs and by some prospective client inquiries from business owners who somehow found my law journal writings online. I was attracted to the blogging format and figured it would make my writing more accessible to business owners, who, like the rest of civilization, increasingly looked to the internet to educate themselves and get answers to legal problems before calling a professional. Blogging allows lawyers to demonstrate their expertise, personality, and passion for the subject matter to consumers of digital media like nothing else. Google does the rest, at least when it comes to bringing potential new clients to your door.
- Blogging Enhances Expertise. Regular blogging keeps a lawyer at the top of their game. I’m constantly on the prowl for new court decisions, legislative developments, and articles of interest to share with my readers. The blog’s ravenous maw demands no less. The educational value of the research and writing, driven by the imperative to achieve mastery of the subject matter for my readers, is priceless when it comes to representing clients in my own business divorce practice.
- Numbers Don’t Matter. The success of a law blog is not measured by the numbers of visitors and page views. In the early days I obsessively tracked those numbers. It took me a while to realize they don’t matter, especially for a blog that focuses on a micro-niche, non-volume practice area like business divorce. The most popular posts I ever wrote for this blog, generating hundreds of thousands of views, were about a business divorce between the father and son stars of the reality TV show, American Chopper. The numbers were gratifying but the viewers responsible for those numbers — fans of the TV show with no personal interest in business divorce — were not my intended audience.
- Long Posts Can Work. When I started the blog I deliberately kept the posts short — less than 500 words — under the commonly-held view that the attention span of online readers is too short for long-form blogging. Within a half year, however, I found myself consistently writing posts over 1,000 words and sometimes well in excess of that figure — a habit I’ve rarely departed from ever since. Of course the longer pieces take more time to write; typically I’ll devote 4 or 5 hours every weekend to the task. The longer posts also place a premium on adopting a more journalistic and less legalistic writing style, which is no small challenge when writing principally about court decisions. I don’t imagine that all those who encounter my posts get past the first paragraph, much less read the entire thing. But as I said above, law blogging is not about reaching the widest possible audience, it’s about reaching the right audience. For me, a distressed business co-owner or his or her consultant is the right audience — an audience that, I’ve become convinced over the last 10 years, finds value in the more nuanced analysis and value-added commentary that long-form blogging enables.
Some thanks are in order, firstly to my regular readers these past ten years, whose kind words of appreciation and encouragement make it all worthwhile. Special thanks to Kevin O’Keefe and his fantastic Lexblog team for designing and hosting the blog these many years, and to my firm’s Marketing Director Lorraine Sullivan and her dedicated staff for their support. Finally, thanks to the many fine judges of the great State of New York, whose labors, interpreting and applying the law in some of the toughest business divorce cases anywhere, provide the oxygen for this blog.
Onward to the next ten years of blogging!