Street signs saying useful and uselessWe all hear the phrase that “content is king” on a regular basis. It’s important to remember that “quality” content is what matters and not just sheer volume. I read a great article on ProBlogger this week which articulated this point in another way – being useful is “king” when it comes to building a quality law blog. Interestingly, making their blog posts useful is a place where most attorneys strike out.

I’ve heard from quite a few attorneys, who consider themselves “authorities” on blogging, that a lawyer’s blog shouldn’t be about connecting to clients or providing the public with information. These attorneys argue that blogging should be a form of relationship building and discussion between lawyers. I could not disagree with this more. This type of idea misses two very important points. The first is that a lawyer’s fundamental place in society has changed. The second is the benefits of writing information that useful to the general population.

A lawyer’s place in society has changed more in the last twenty-five years than it has in the previous five hundred. Before the internet, non-attorneys had little practical way to get basic information about their legal situation without scheduling a consultation. Sure they could go to the public library and research it, but no one was actually going to do so; they were going to schedule a consult instead. Search engines changed all that. For example, people no longer have to schedule a consult just to find out information such as how long they must live in a state before filing for divorce or how a state’s child support laws work. In other words, the information gap between an attorney and the general public has dwindled and, as a result, your specific knowledge is not as valuable as it once was. This is not to say that lawyers are not valuable at all, they certainly are. When the public’s need to speak to a lawyer for simple information went away, however, the importance of lawyers in society was reduced from the level it once held. This impacts the way in which a lawyer must relate to the public.

If an attorney’s general knowledge on the law is not as useful to the public as it once was then lawyers must find other ways to maintain their usefulness. One way is to provide higher levels of information in ways that the public can understand and digest. Blogging about legal developments which impact your potential client base, in a way that is useable and useful to your potential clients, means your blog is a more valuable resource than all the other websites out there which provide basic information that, at one time, could only be obtained from an attorney. The idea that many have, that an attorney’s blog should not target the general public, rests on the assumption that lawyers are still in their ivory tower. In 2014, however, there are far more attorneys than jobs and you need to make yourself useful to the people who matter – your potential clients. In other words, you should be writing useful and practical information, not readily obtainable from a million other websites, which will help the people you service. This is one reason why I recently wrote on why law firm blogs fail to connect with clients.

In my next post I’ll discuss the several benefits that come from blogging in a way that is useful to the public. Why do you think many attorneys feel that blogging is about building relationships with other lawyers rather than helping the public? Please chime in through the comments below.