Start a blog, get a job

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blog for a job111 Start a blog, get a jobMany job-seeking lawyers tend to overlook one of the most obvious ways to stand out from the crowd: start a law blog.

Whether you were recently laid off, are a new graduate, or are returning to the law after a planned hiatus, a well-thought-out blog is the perfect way to differentiate yourself from other job applicants.

Blogging can be beneficial to the legal job seeker in many ways. Through a blog, you can:

  1. Demonstrate your substantive knowledge;
  2. Showcase your writing and analytical skills; and
  3. Convince prospective employers that you are on top of changes in your field.

For the attorney in search of a job, blogging will be most effective if the blog focuses on the substantive area of law in which you hope to practice.

There are a number of different types of posts that a topical blog of this type can include. You can post commentaries about recent news articles regarding the area of law that is the focus of the blog. You can also discuss issues raised by other law bloggers who blog about similar issues. Finally, you can summarize and analyze recent case law or recent statutory changes.

Since your primary goal is to get a job, it is important to be diplomatic. Try to be as neutral as possible about hot button topics. Avoid political issues and refrain from unnecessary commentary that could be misconstrued by a potential employer.

Effective blogging can lead to many unexpected opportunities. For example, my first law blog, Sui Generis, was instrumental in helping me ease back into the legal arena after a 3 year, self-imposed hiatus from the law. That blog, and the blogs that followed, proved to be invaluable to my subsequent career path and lead to countless professional, writing, speaking and networking opportunities.

So don’t despair. Despite the dismal legal job market, you can find the perfect job. Start a legal blog. It is a great way to showcase your knowledge and the perfect way to ensure that, out of all job applicants, you will be the one that is most memorable.

More posts on blogging:

(photo: Mike Licht)

Legal Careers

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  • Sheryl Sisk SChelin

    Great points Niki. Although I usually write about how blogging helps solo and small firm lawyers get business, it’s equally true a well-placed, well-managed blog can help any lawyer get employed, too.

    I’d add that the reverse is also true and caution all job seekers, lawyers and otherwise, to search their own names in Google to see what potential employers will see: overly personal, inappropriate, or too-explicit web content (be it tweets, blog posts, or blog comments) all will show up if you’ve identified yourself by your professional name.

    One good way to move those less-glorious items down further in the rankings? Make some effort to blog at your own eponymous URL professionally, and use your professional name as your Twitter name to send out relevant professional tweets.

  • http://p3nlhclust404.shr.prod.phx3.secureserver.net/SharedContent/redirect_0.html Laura Bergus

    I’d add that you needn’t wait to be a new graduate to have an effective blog. A professional blog during law school will help you stand out and get you in touch with potential employers for summer jobs or your first full-time gig (it’s how I got my current 1L-summer position). Show the world that you can be thoughtful, observant and a good writer, even under the stress of law school, and someone will take note.

    Two other blawg suggestions:
    1. Make your blog visually interesting to showcase your any skills (not just another WordPress default layout, add video, RSS of your Tweets, FB or FF updates); and

    2. Brand your blog as you: use your name as the URL, include an easy-to-find and up-to-date résumé, don’t overlook contact information.

  • http://www.spamnotes.com Venkat

    Good points.

    I’m curious as to what you think about the merits of posting about marketing/social media. I’ve been involved in diversity efforts over the years and went through a spell where I was on a bunch of panels and CLEs regarding diversity in the legal profession. This was fun and constructive but I found sort of detracted from my image as a substantive expert in the field. I wonder about this in the context of blogging – i.e., if you are blogging your way into a job (and are not in the marketing business), blogging about substantive matters that display your expertise rather than blogging about lawyer marketing may be the best bet. There’s nothing wrong with blogging about lawyer marketing I’m not sure it adds to the perception of you as a substantive expert and we only have room to think about people in one or two facets. I’m not sure where I stand on this but I’m curious about it. (Note: this is not directed to you Niki!)

    Also, from talking to young lawyers, one of the biggest challenges of starting a blog as a young lawyer is figuring out what practice area you want to focus on. Niche blogs are more effective IMO and some young lawyers take time before figuring out what they are into. I think many people overcome this, but it’s often a hurdle to starting a blog in the first place.

  • http://www.spamnotes.com Venkat

    I should add that my comments are sort of particular to younger lawyers. My gut feel is that more experienced lawyers have a bit more room regarding public perception about them, but as a young lawyer (in my experience at least) it’s uphill trying to gain that recognition in the first place. That said, blogging can definitely help!

  • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

    @Venkat: All good points and valid questions. I agree that blogging about blogging, social networking, etc., is probably not the best way to get a job as, say, a real estate lawyer. Lawyers hoping to blog their way to a job should focus on a niche, in my opinion.

  • http://www.legalpracticepro.com Jay S. Fleischman

    I agree that blogging is a fundamental part of any lawyer’s self-promotion efforts, but the post overlooks the fact that by the time the applicant is “on the market,” there’s precious little time to build traffic to the blog. I can see it as a showcase of the applicant’s personality, strengths and position in the market but it’s dangerous to assume that, “if you build it, they will come.” I know that’s not what you’ve intended here Niki but it’s useful to highlight something an applicant may not realize.

  • http://www.lawtechtalk.com/ Nicole Black

    Venkat–I definitely think that if the goal of the blog is to “get a job”, then the blog should be focused on the substantive area of law you would ultimately like to practice. The blog would show that you are interested in that area of law and are up on the recent changes as well.

    Jay–If the overall goal of the blog is to assist in getting a job, then the number of readers is, in my opinion, irrelevant. The blog is simply a line on your resume and something that you stress during your job interviews-with the goal being that the interviewer looks at your blog. In this case, the goal of the blog is not to draw traffic, but rather, to showcase your knowledge and make you stand out in a crowd of other job applicants.

  • http://www.ConsumerProductsLaw.com Nena Street

    Starting a blog on a substantive topic of law is also a great way to keep your current job.

    Blogging forces you to get and stay informed about cutting edge issues in your field. Regular, well-written and thoughtful posts can help you gain recognition within your firm and industry as an expert. Both of which are important in this precarious job market. With the risk of layoffs ever-present, a blog can help increase your profile and thus your value, within the firm. Should layoffs occur, your blog can help you differentiate yourself in the job market.

    About four months ago, a partner and I (I am a 3rd year associate) started one of the first legal blogs at our firm (Consumer Products Law Blog). I have found blogging to be a terrific way to get and stay smart about legal issues that matter to my clients and my firm. Layoffs are unlikely at my firm, but you never know. I feel much more confident in my current job knowing that I am developing visible expertise and leveraging that expertise to build my practice. Plus, billable work is a bit slower for me this year and blogging has been a superb use of my time at work. Last thought – if you blog regularly, it takes little effort to crank out an article for publication in a trade journal, and even those lawyers in my firm who may not see the value in my blog do understand the value of those traditional law articles.

  • http://lawyerist.com/author/aaronstreet/ Aaron Street

    Two comments.

    1. If the purpose of blogging-for-a-job is to establish your expertise and build your topic-area network, then I think guest posting/contributing to an established blog is at least as valuable as starting your own blog from scratch. Most well-respected top blogs (including Lawyerist) are very open to publishing guest posts.

    2. If you are a law student or young attorney, I think blogging on topics like social media and online marketing can be just as valuable as blogging about your desired practice area. Young attorneys rarely know more about practice areas than the established attorneys they hope to work for, but they often have knowledge about how to use the internet for business development that their prospective employer would benefit from.

  • http://ethicsmaven.com/ Eric Cooperstein

    I agree with Aaron. Also, don’t overlook commenting on other people’s blogs as a way to establish some substantive knowledge (or display ineptness, depending on how carefully one posts). Comments get picked up by search engines. If one assumes that prospective employers will routinely run internet searches on job candidates, then postings will produce substantive search results, whether from ones own blog, a guest post, or a comment.

    The advice to “Go Google yourself” should not be taken as an insult.

  • http://personal-injury-lawyerlosangeles.com/ G King

    Good read. I do believe starting a blog, getting it registered and people to it is a great way to show case to a potential employer. Lets them know that you are capable and willing to do other things to improve yourself.

  • James Goi Jr

    Very nice sharing of information and it will helpful to my work
    Thank you

  • http://loopbaanadvies-info.blogspot.com/ Anna Marie Loopbaanadvies

    Hi. Thank you so much for sharing these tips. They were really helpful specially for starters like me. hope you can give me more tips and suggestions on how to become successful in this field.

    Cheers,
    Anna Marie Loopbaanadvies

  • Allan

    This idea is so simple it may very well be genius. When applying for jobs I always think of ways to make my resume stand out but never thought of starting a blog that showcases my expertise in the field I am applying for. This really made my day. I’m starting a blog today and applying for jobs in a week! :)