A look into a legal blogging shortcut that gets more views, but which can also put accident victims in serious legal jeopardy
From time to time, I expand beyond purely legal topics regarding Michigan’s auto No Fault laws and trial tactics on this legal blog (blawg). These have included real concerns with some of the ugliness I see today, whether that be with certain law firms and lawyers aggressively engaging in illegal solicitation and ambulance chasing, the use of runners and cappers, ugly legal marketing and then onto very much non-auto law topics, such as Michigan football.
Today I wanted to write a post about the sorry state of lawyer blogging.
There are many Michigan lawyers out there who are blogging. Blogging is a great tool for leveling the playing field and letting people learn about their legal rights. And if it’s done correctly and with good intentions, then I’m all for it. I even spoke at Avvo’s Lawyernomics last year in Las Vegas, encouraging lawyers to use Internet blogging as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition.
But there are many examples of legal blogging “gone bad.”
Two things in particular are bothering me. One is the stealing and plagiarizing of blog topics and content by lawyers. This is a big pet-peeve of mine, but one of the prices successful legal bloggers must pay when lawyers looking to steal traffic hire people to re-write successful blogs on other people’s websites.
The second problem I have is with lawyers who are hiding the dates on their blog posts. This is problematic for several reasons, primarily, sharing bad information that can really harm the public. If the best thing about legal blogging is that it levels the playing field and helps educate the public, then removing dates can have the exact opposite effect. I write primarily about Michigan’s auto accident and No Fault insurance laws. The case law is very fluid, and constantly changing. In just the past several months, we’ve seen decisions like Covenant Medical Center, Inc. v. State Farm and Bahri v. IDS Property Company that have caused massive changes in how No Fault lawyers practice.
Why are so many lawyers removing dates from blogs? Presumably, it’s because their marketing people are telling them that it is a proven way to increase the number of times an old post may be viewed or shared on social networks. The theory behind lawyers blogging without dates works like this:
- One of your followers shares a post on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- You see their update and click the link. It then takes you to the blog post.
- With no date to guide you, you assume this is newly shared content and the blog post is current.
- You then share it, thinking the information you’re sharing is up to date.
- And in doing so, you may have just shared inaccurate and potentially damaging information with your friends.
- The blawger, however, gets the extra traffic and views.
As you can see, this mistaken move is all about the lawyer blogger. It’s not only selfish, but reckless.
Removing the dates also leaks into the plagiarizing of my own blog posts, because so many other personal injury lawyers throughout the state are clearly copying my own blogs these days and then rewriting them – but just enough that they escape some penalty from the search engines, hoping the public or the news will find their version and not my own.
Not exactly the ideal way that lawyers should be marketing themselves and blogging online.
But one that seems to be growing.