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Study: More Law Firms Blogging, Few Blogs Mobile-Friendly

July 1, 2015, 4:39 PM

While some 81 percent of AmLaw 200 firms publish blogs, a number of them aren’t using the latest technology for mobile devices, limiting their access to readers, according to a report from LexBlog Inc.

Though mobile visits now account for 25 percent of global internet traffic, only 20 percent of legal blogs take advantage of Google’s “responsive design” technology, which adjusts the size and look of a blog to fit the reader’s mobile device, the report said. Many AmLaw 200 blogs have mobile versions using “inferior” technology, and 33 percent “aren’t mobile ready at all,” the report said. “If large law firms want to optimize the time and cost of blogging, they have to give firms an optimized mobile experience,” it said.

Firms “got caught behind the eight ball,” not realizing their search results would be hurt by not using the Google technology, Kevin O’Keefe, LexBlog’s founder and chief executive officer, told Big Law Business.

“It’s not just the blog appearing directly on a smartphone; it’s getting it shared socially,” something that isn’t possible without a mobile-enabled site, O’Keefe said. While more firms are moving to the new technology, others say budget issues are delaying upgrades, he said.

Employment and labor are the most common topics for legal blogs, with 132 publications targeting the field, the report said. Corporate and commercial law, financial, intellectual property and international law blogs are also popular topics, the report said. International practice is a fast growing area, accounting for 71 percent of new blogs over the past 24 months.

“One thing becoming more clear in firms’ eyes is the niche,” O’Keefe said. “The more focused on a niche you can be, the more likely you’ll be successful.” A blog focused on the Family and Medical Leave Act, for example, will do better than a broader-based blog on employment law in general, he said.

Firms need to be strategic when starting their blogs, O’Keefe said. “A lot of times what firms do is start a blog just because another firm has one, or they have a practice group,” he said. But a good blog with a narrower focus can gain a following much more quickly by “engaging in a discussion that’s already out there” and becoming one of the influential voices on a key topic, he said. “It’s like going to a good conference and being able to engage the people on stage and in the audience,” he said.

Keeping a blog on a website separate from the firm’s site is a good idea, as a separate site is less likely to be viewed as a marketing tool and more likely to become a go-to source for a niche topic, O’Keefe said.

While lawyers want to maintain their own blogs, they also want to use the “clout” of their firms’ brands, O’Keefe said. It’s generally not a problem for an attorney who switches firms to switch the blog over, he said.

The most popular blog from an AmLaw 200 firm is Shook, Hardy & Bacon’s Lowering the Bar, according to the report. Adams and Reese’s iPhone J.D. is second, followed by the Startup Law Blog from Davis Wright Tremaine.

Fox Rothschild is the most prolific blogger among the firms included in the report, publishing a total of 39 blogs. Next is Sheppard Mullin, with 29 blogs, followed by Womble Carlyle with 22. Rounding out the top five are DLA Piper, which has 21 blogs, and Duane Morris, which has 20.

O’Keefe sees the legal blogosphere continuing to evolve. “Even though blogs have been out there ten, 11 years, they’re still very, very new to most lawyers,” he said. “I think we’re still scratching the surface.”