I recently got an email from Jonathan Negretti, a 2L at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University. He and his classmate recently launched a legal blog, and he asked me to provide some feedback. They’ve created a good based they can build on. Starting a blog as a 2L is a great idea because it gives you some time to build a following and demonstrate some areas of expertise before you graduate.
Here are the top 10 blogging rules that I shared with him.
- Whenever you do a legal blog post, put a disclaimer at the top that informs the reader that you are not a lawyer or giving legal advice. Here is the disclaimer that I use: â€œI am not an attorney. In accordance with ABA policy, this blog should not be viewed as legal advice. It is simply my experiences, opinions, and stuff I looked up on the internet.â€
- Use lots of links. Put links in your posts to applicable laws, other blogs, and news stories. This builds up your credibility and is a great way to connect with other bloggers.
- Get a Twitter account to network and announce when you publish a new blog post. It’s better to have an account for yourself, not your blog, because people want to connect with you as a person. You should also announce new posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+.
- Complement your posts with interesting images. I get good ones for free from Zemanta and CreativeCommons.org. If you are using images from Creative Commons, be sure to use images that you can adapt and use for commercial purposes.
- It’s perfectly acceptable to invite others to write guest posts on your blog. Be sure to include a bio for them at the bottom with links to their blog, Twitter account, LinkedIn account, etc.
- If your plan is to open a law practice after graduation, check your state’s ethics rules regarding legal advertising before inviting people to hire you.
- If you are compensated for writing a blog or get free merchandise in exchange for writing a review, you must disclose it in the blog post. There’s an FTC regulation about that.
- Approve all non-spam comments, even from people who are mean or disagree with you. It shows that you’re not afraid to discourse and that you’re open to other perspectives. If you can stay level headed while other people are losing their minds, it makes you look articulate and confident.
- Respond to every comment. Blogging is an effective way to start conversations.
- Don’t be afraid to be bold. Some of the most memorable blog posts are the ones where the author takes a strong stance that not everyone agrees with. They inspired people to leave comments and be part of the discussion. One of the best things I did in law school was Sponsor A Law Kid, and it was also one of the most controversial.
If you have any questions or tips for neophyte law student bloggers, please leave them as comments. This is one of those areas where law schools don’t always prepare their students to effectively use a networking tool.