[Intentionally Left Blank]

Five years ago, the question around the blawgosphere was when lawyers would finally, finally, realize that the internet was here to stay and start becoming a part of it.  Most of us who engaged in it were surprised at how few lawyers had ever taken the time online to do more than google where to buy some doodad or get directions to an address.  Actually, we were shocked at how few even knew how to do that.

Times are beginning to change. Sadly, not for the better.  I’ve been fighting a war over the past five years against those who saw the potential to make a quick buck off stupid lawyers by selling them a lie. Knowing how few had a clue what was happening online, they promoted the idea that it was a magical secret marketing place where all the paying clients were going to find lawyers, shell out big bucks and make them fabulously wealthy. 

At the same time, business in general stunk and lawyers, tired of waiting for the phone to ring, wondered where their next case was coming from.  To the internet!  With all these marketers screaming about the money, the connections, the engagement happening, how could they continue to ignore it?  And step by step, lawyer by lawyer, the lie grew.

The failure of the concept would have been fairly obvious to anyone who gave it much thought.  But when things are going poorly, and the shine of new technology blinds one’s vision, putting much thought into it is a waste of time. If so many people say there’s money to be, there must be. There just must be.

Twitterers craft brief bios about themselves, touting their practice, their success and their high esteem. They think someone is going to retain them because of their twitter bio. Their marketer told them so. And so they follow 500 other twitterers and have 7 followers in return. Who wants to “engage” with someone whose bio says they are desperately seeking business? Their twits are promotional or worthless. No one needs you to be the 319th person to retwit a news story that has already been spread by people with thousands of followers. Don’t you get how this works at all?

The simple answer is that they don’t get it. They won’t make friends. They won’t get business. They’re just embarrassing themselves, all because they came here to market and followed the instructions of their marketer.  And once you’ve firmly established yourself as sleazeball, there’s no going back.

The same is happening with blogging, supposedly the way to establish credibility and expertise. Because we need another post about “what to do when you’re stopped for DUI.”  The last ten thousand aren’t enough, right?  But the marketer has a formula, and promises if you just follow the formula, riches are yours for the taking.  You don’t think about the 100,000 lawyers who followed the formula before you, and that they never found those riches. Or to the extent the formula ever worked, it has long since been maxed out. Sorry, but the train left the station a long time ago.

Years ago, in speaking to an audience of lawyers about social media, I said anybody can blog, but everybody cannot. Maybe it’s because your writing stinks. Maybe it’s because you don”t have the chops to keep it up. Maybe you’re not as smart as you think. Maybe it’s because you’re a bore and nobody will want to read what you write. Maybe it’s because nobody needs 100,000 blogs writing about the same crap. You may be able to keep atop ten blogs a day. Maybe 100. A thousand? Forget it. Nobody has that much time, and there aren’t a thousand worth bothering with anyway.

But the marketers tell you to start a blog and fill in the blank space. They tell you that your ideas are wonderful, even though they’re not. Even so, you run out of steam. Writing is hard work. Thinking is harder still. You can’t pull it off.

And so, when the emails come offering to provide guest posts to fill in the blank space on your blog, you seize the opportunity. Crap? Perhaps, but no worse than the empty shell of thought that you come up with on your own.  And really, isn’t the point just to scam google into putting you on page one when people search for a lawyer in Peoria? Any crap will do, as long as it’s new crap, to game the SEO gods. Just do it, the marketers tell you. You must post something new, no matter how empty your personal tank may be.

And you get to be like Bitter Lawyer, trying desperately to make a joke of getting caught empty-handed.  Or The Mac Lawyer, an effort that never had legs to begin with, gasping for breath with a link back to Baby Changing Stations.  No, I didn’t make that up. That’s what it says. That’s how low, how absurd, it gets.  And when you do, one of the handful of  real blawgers will ridicule you for being disgraceful. And your marketing strategy will result in your abject humiliation, and you will wonder how it all went so terribly wrong.

Instead of being a self-proclaimed hero on the internet, you will destroy yourself, ruin your reputation and, worst of all, make no money.

No one publishes guest post garbage unless they’ve run out of anything else to say. They’re dead. They’re empty. They’ve got nothing else to say. The only option left is to leave the space intentionally blank. For the most part, they never had anything to say. It was just crap to begin with, and even that’s run dry.

But you, lawyer new to the internet, won’t find any of this out until you’ve posted your twitter bio proclaiming how special you are compared to the 10,000 other lawyers whose bio says the same thing as yours, whose website proclaims how you’re experienced, caring and aggressive, using stock photos  your marketer dug up for his last 50 blogs.

You won’t read Turkewitz’s admonition, outsource your marketing and you outsource your ethics, until it’s too late. And me, what could I possibly know? I give this away for free. What a loser I must be, having a blawg that makes no money. Why would anybody do that? I must be nuts.

You won’t get rich marketing on the internet. At best, you will fade into obscurity after pissing away a few grand to some jerk whose last real job was assistant manager at Dairy Queen. At worst, you will humiliate yourself and show up in google as a disgraced lawyer for all eternity.  Not even baby changing stations will want anything to do with you.  But you won’t know this until it’s too late.

And as you embarrass yourself, you bring all of us into disrepute, which is why I try so hard to stop you. But your marketer doesn’t care as long as he’s paid. And you don’t care as long as you believe it will make you a buck.  We would all do better to just leave the page intentionally blank. At least you won’t humiliate yourself or disgrace the profession. But you won’t know this until it’s too late.


29 comments on “[Intentionally Left Blank]

  1. Max Kennerly

    As a professional SEO / social media marketing consultant, I’d like to advise you that readers of legal blogs are all about graphics, not text, and so you should add graphics to your post to give it, you know, “pop,” sometimes called “jazz.” Here’s the image I recommend:

  2. RJ

    Thanks for this post. Several years ago, before the blog craze, I used to regularly write op-ed pieces for a legal newspaper; but I thought there was something wrong with me because I never became interested in blogging. I am a voracious reader but have never regularly read a legal blog (with the exception of this one and ‘my shingle’). (I was cornered by a website creator at a recent networking meeting who demanded to know why I wasn’t blogging.) I think the main problem with blogging, and why the vast majority are so boring and even unreadable, is because it is really difficult to speak the truth and still maintain your stake in the system as a lawyer. For example, I do a lot of appellate work; however, I have come to the conclusion that the result in any given appellate case is almost completely arbitrary. I have won cases that I considered un-winnable, and have lost cases where the trial judge did something patently wrong (or even crazy) yet the appellate judges were not in the mood that day to reverse. And I even had a case where the panel didn’t want to reverse on a winning argument that couldn’t be avoided, and so the panel simply ignored the issue, not addressing it in its decision! Yet you can’t “blog” the fact that the system is probably arbitrary, and that your chances of prevailing if you retain me are only a little better than a roll of the dice — which is the truth, no matter how brilliant the ‘appellate lawyer’ claims to be, but not effective from a marketing perspective. Blogging requires honesty.

  3. SHG

    You left out a couple details. Not only does it require honesty if it’s to be at all worthwhile, but you make enemies. You challenge decisions (for the reasons you cite plus some) and judges hate you for it. You challenge police, prosecutors and even the brethren, all of whom hate you for it. Great way to network, right?

    Or you post insipid crap and no one reads it. Or you whore about and, well, you’re just a whore. Or you write what you think is brillliant and find out that the rest of the world thinks you’re a moron. Or…well, you know.

  4. RJ

    Yes. I am working on a appeal where I had to go back to the trial judge for something, and he was ridiculously rude and unprofessional to me, because he is upset I am appealing his decision! Seriously. I have seen a lot of this: judges acting like children. But if you even dare to mention such an experience to other lawyers, the smug reaction you get is, “Really? I never had any problem with Judge X, he treats me well” or some other self-serving nonsense. So, how to blog? You need to be like a Christopher Hitchens, going after the phoniness of Mother Teresa if need be, but the legal system doesn’t tolerate contrariness very well (or intellectualism for that matter). Your blog comes pretty close though, and I suppose you’re past caring what a prosecutor thinks of your views at this point…

  5. Keith Lee

    It’s not like I had a high opinion of Bitter Lawyer before, but now it’s beyond worthless. Complete crap. I hope Glover picked it up for cheap because it’s not worth anything now.

    (Aside: I got to type a comment, woo! The captcha wan’t a series of fractions like last time.)

  6. SHG

    I figured out pretty early on that I was going to make enemies doing this. I’m just not the sort of person to hide in the shadows or put on a fake smile. Why is a harder question, since most people would think I’m nuts for doing this without any tangible benefit. Maybe I am nuts.

  7. Keith Lee

    Sam just replied to me in the comments.

    Apparently Bitter Lawyer has some sort of editor? Sam’s also still trying to make out like the whole thing was a joke. Nope, too late for that.

  8. Keith

    First of all, Cupcakes.
    Secondly, marketing DOES work. You went to school for Law, not for Marketing/Business. You need to learn the difference between a Fly By Night company and someone who’s been around for 18+ Years, an A+ Rating with the BBB and proven results from thousands of attorneys. There’s a reason businesses fail and some (select) succeed. Unless you’re a programmer, php specialist and/or graphic designer, why waste your potential billable hours on something you know (almost) nothing about. You hire specialists, just like when you need your car fixed, plumbing done, etc. It’s shit work you don’t have time/want to do.

  9. SHG

    Nuh uh. Cupcakes don’t buy you the opportunity to slime up my blog. Selling garbage cases that nobody wants to fools who think they can pay some marketing pimp to make them rich doesn’t make you a specialist, just another sleazy business selling dreams to morons.

    Word of caution. This is not the place to try to pimp your business, no matter how cute your legs look in hotpants. By the way, how much is the BBB  selling their ratings for these days? Funny how all sluts get along so well.

  10. Keith

    First: Internet should be capitalized.
    Second: Not pimping my business, but* pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp,  pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp, pimp and pimp. (Oxford comma deliberately left out.)

    *Balance edited for ease of processing.

  11. Sam Glover

    If I wasn’t clear, let me be: we screwed up. We should have caught the errors. (By using “we,” I am taking responsibility as an owner, although I have no day-to-day involvement in the site, and I had no direct part of the decision to publish this post.)

    However, I do think the post is pretty funny, just not for the reasons it was intended to be funny. It’s a pretty funny example of what happens when you outsource your marketing to morons (which I’m assuming is what happened, here). And the result will be well deserved. I don’t think it will take long for today’s posts about Krist to rank higher than his own website.

    But I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with guest posting, even if the author is looking for a link. If the post is quality (unlike Krist’s), that’s the deal. We shouldn’t have published this one (and I made plenty of similar mistakes on Lawyerist, a while back), but we do get the occasional guest post worth publishing, especially on Bitter Lawyer, where guest submissions are pretty common (see the motions unlikely to be granted, for example).

  12. SHG

    You would have done better stopping after the first paragraph, Sam. The rest emits an unpleasant odor.  The only thing funny about it is how you were taken in by a scam, which is the best spin you could use, but still doesn’t explain how anyone with any internet experience could be taken in by such an obvious piece of garbage.

    And if you’re trying to justify using guest posts because you can’t manage to generate content of any value on your own, what you’ve just told the blogosphere is that your empty. Still laughing?

  13. SHG

    I do not consider the internet a proper name. We’re past that. As for the rest of your comment, it speaks for itself.

  14. Keith

    Cute, edit posts when you’re proven wrong. Next time I realize we’re in Jr. High, I’ll try and keep the posts concise; brevity is key.

  15. SHG

    Nobody proves anything by meaningless self-promotional bullshit. Are you really incapable of distinguishing reality from your worthless promotional nonsense? I saved you from humiliation because I like you and, well, cupcakes. But this is where it ends.

  16. Jordan Rushie

    Yeah, but did you know this… (and be honest.)

    If you scare a possum it will play dead. It will then eminate odors from its butt to make it smell dead, too.

    So possum farts literally smell like death.

    I’m not entirely sure what the point of this comment is, although I would probably NOT stick my head into a bag of angry possums.

    That’s pretty good advice, right?

  17. SHG

    Every once in a while, I realize just how far apart Eagles and Giants fans are. This is one of those moments.

  18. Marilou

    Keith. It’s pretty arrogant for you to tell a successful, accomplished lawyer that he knows nothing about marketing/business. A successful lawyer gets his clients and his business in the best way possible – word of mouth, from previous and current clients and others who know how he works. You’re correct about one thing: Marketing DOES work. And the marketing that successful criminal lawyers do involves intense preparation for every case, appropriate investigation and subpoenas for witnesses, a thorough understanding of the facts of the case and elements of the charge, skillful arguments and objections at trial, and working every single day to do the best they can for their clients. Successful marketing for criminal defense attorneys in the way that I’ve outlined will get them more clients, and more after that, from current and past clients and from other lawyers and even court personnel who have come to recognize what makes a good criminal defense lawyer.

    Your implication that ANY criminal defense lawyer can be automatically successful by using your services is not only ignorant but incorrect. The best marketing cannot ensure success for any lawyer who doesn’t do his part to ensure the best representation possible for every client, every day.

    The need for a successful criminal defense attorney to hire a marketing specialist is generally nonexistent, absent unusual circumstances. Your schtick, while causing me to want a cupcake, is otherwise a waste of time, your 18+ years and A+ rating notwithstanding.

  19. SHG

    Wow. Just ripping poor Keith a new one, when he’s just a guy trying to make a quick buck so he doesn’t have to go back to work at Dairy Queen. Where is your empthy for the integrity challenged?

  20. Marilou

    Something about his mocking sarcasm just rubbed me the wrong way, despite his repeated references to cupcakes. He’s disrespectful and enjoys the annoyingness of a prepubescent teen, neither of which is impressive. You told him you like him, and that’s your call, but I was immediately repelled by his demeanor, to the degree that I couldn’t control my fingers. Thanks for mentioning Dairy Queen. Now I want that, too.

    A quick buck can be had in any number of places other than hassling talented lawyers.

    Where’s my empathy? I just did a jail visit and despite their poking and prodding and patting and palpating, they didn’t find any. Blame the sheriff for my lack of empathy, I guess. He couldn’t find it.

  21. Keith

    Can you show me where I wrote that, Marilou? I don’t see that in my post. (Almost) Everyone knows that referrals are the best potential clients, I never said anything against that, either. I also know that if you’re going to let calls go to voice-mail, or you aren’t good at converting, obviously you’re not going to do well, which is what I tell attorneys because I’m not a big fan of wasting their money and both of our time.

    I’m not saying it’s necessary for you to hire me or my services, that’s just ridiculous; however, it definitely won’t hurt.

    Dairy Queen treated me well, Scott; turns out it’s not just ice-cream you can dip into the warm cherry toppings.

    To the second message:
    You’re absolutely correct; if you can’t handle a little sarcasm, you’re not going to be bffs with me. Also, if you’ve ever worked with attorneys, you should know it’s not just a quick buck, Chuck.

  22. SHG

    She doesn’t like you, as well as thinks you’re full of shit. She’s not alone. What part of this makes you think it’s another opportunity to sneak in some backdoor pitch for your services. Keith, cupcakes aside, you need to know when to go elsewhere. Since you clearly can’t seem to figure out that this isn’t work for you (or anyone else), I, being your pal, will do it for you. This is the end of your comments here.

    No need to thank me for saving from making an even bigger ass of yourself. That’s the kind of guy I am.

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