What Is A “Blawg,” And Why Does It Matter?

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legal blogging111 What Is A Blawg, And Why Does It Matter?A blog is a website that contains “regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order.” Blawgs are simply a subset of blogs. Webopedia defines blawg rather broadly:

Slang term used to describe an online blog that is written by lawyers, or one that is focused on providing legal-oriented content.

Scott Greenfield, of Simple Justice, seems to suggest that a blawgs consist of posts that are “worth reading” and provide insight, a viewpoint or a clear position:

Most new blogs are doomed to death from the outset, created for the wrong reason and certain to fail to achieve their creator’s purpose.  Most offer neither insight nor viewpoint, as their creators are scared to death that taking a firm and clear position might offend a reader, a potential client.

The barrier to entry into the blawgosphere has increased dramatically.  It’s not one of cost, or concept, as much as one of merit, focus and purpose.  If you have the desire to write, the guts to write something worth reading and the stomach to deal with the constant onslaught of stupid and crazy readers, there’s a place for you in the blawgosphere…

I am inclined to agree with Webopedia’s expansive definition and would humbly suggest that Mr. Greenfield’s definition is far too narrow.

Successful legal blogs need not necessarily provide substantive content, nor must a blawg provide either insight or a clear position.

My most popular blawg, Legal Antics, is a prime example of a “successful” blawg. It has over 1,000 subscribers, and is linked to by other blawgs more than any of my other blogs combined. And yet I never offer insight, a viewpoint, or a clear position. Rather, I simply aggregate content from across the web that focuses on legal humor. And people seem to like it.

Another factor to keep in mind is that the concept of what constitutes a “blawg” has necessarily evolved over time and will continue to do so. When I began blogging in 2005, one of my newer and more popular blawgs, Legal Tweets, was simply unfathomable at the time. Legal Tweets consists entirely of collections of “tweets” from lawyers about various law-related issues, and in 2005, Twitter was yet a gleam in its creators’ eyes.

Thus, it is important to keep in mind that the concept of a “blawg” is not concrete; rather, it is a flexible and evolving. A blawg need not contain certain elements in order to survive or be successful.

For those of you who are considering starting a blawg, do not allow the unnecessarily confining limitations of others to define your blawg. Once you’ve found a topic that interests you, learn about it, stay current and begin creating content.

However, as with any other form of social media, determine your goals before you begin blogging, keep those goals in mind as you blog, and most of all, have fun.

If you keep these suggestions in mind, you will find that you truly enjoy blawging, and success, however you choose to define it, will necessarily follow.

(photo: Claire Dancer)

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  • http://constructionlawva.com Christopher G. Hill

    Great post Niki. I think that I agree with the more expansive definition as well. A goal oriented plan and a thirst for knowledge in an area are what are needed, not just a way to determine the “worth” of what you’re doing through others eyes. Start, and you’ll be surprised.

  • http://www.valanduseconstructionlaw.com Timothy R. Hughes

    I like your points Niki … this one feels to me like you are both correct and that this is somewhat a discussion of apples and oranges.

    Scott says, “Most new blogs are doomed to death from the outset, created for the wrong reason and certain to fail to achieve their creator’s purpose.” I tend to think he is right about this. It all depends on what the purpose of the blog is.

    On the other hand, if you want connect with people on the topic of cooking and other folks want to as well, that is a great way to connect on twitter. The broader definition blogs that you reference are perhaps not geared in the first instance towards gaining a foothold into a particular legal market niche but still meet the creator’s (your) purpose and thus work.

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

    In fairness, Legal Antics and Legal Tweets aren’t really the kind of blogs that will drive business to a law firm. While they may be successful and fit the technical definition of “blawg,” they also may not be a good example of what a law firm might want to create to attract and retain clients.

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

    Well, for what it’s worth, (and I believe I’m correct in saying this) Scott doesn’t believe that blawgs should be used to bring in business. And, I’m not entirely sure that that is a necessary element of what makes a “blawg” or a “blog” for that matter. Rather, that’s simply one goal of a blawg.

    Additionally, I think that Legal Antics is not necessarily a bad blog for thestated purpose of bringing in business. I think that most people would relate to and appreciate an attorney that is able to mock the profession. After all, in case you hadn’t noticed, we’re not a very popular bunch;)

  • John

    I think Scott is not defining what a blawg is as much as he’s stating what makes a blog successful. If all you’re doing is regurgitating, you’re not bringing anything unique to readers.

    Anyone can aggregate a unique mix of content, but unless you’re providing your own opinion or commentary, anyone can copy it.

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

    John,

    I would respectfully disagree with your assertion that “If all you’re doing is regurgitating, you’re not bringing anything unique to readers.”

    Using my two blawgs mentioned in the post by way of example, I filter the content. I determine what is worthy of being included and determine how it should be presented.

    At Legal Antics I scour the web for recent humorous legal topics and include what I consider to be a witty title to each post, which adds to the post.

    At Legal Tweets, I locate interesting twitter discussions between attorneys and include those tweets that I believe summarize the discussion in a meaningful manner.

    I do not simply regurgitate content–I take the time to find it and present it in ways that are most useful for my readers.

    Of course, we can agree to disagree;)

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

    There is room for those who boil down information for their audience, and it’s unfair to say otherwise. It reminds me of the meme, “you’re doing it wrong.” What works for you is good, and what does not is bad.

    The critical point is that it’s important to join the conversation that’s taking place around us.