Photo of Isabelle Minasian

Isabelle is responsible for LexBlog's content curation and social media channels. She strives to amplify the valuable legal insight that bloggers offer to the global community.

After nearly a year and a half of being full immersed in the world of legal blogs and blogging, I’m leaving LexBlog to travel across the country and work for the National Baseball Hall of Fame as their Digital Communications Specialist. It’s a dream job, made possible in large part by my work here, so it seems only fitting that I close out my LexBlogger career with one final Blogging Hour.

I interviewed to intern in June of 2017, a year removed from graduating college and weary from the balancing act of six different part-time jobs. Beyond a desire for stability, though, I was searching for somewhere I could learn and grow; somewhere that could offer some guidance, but also give me room to be creative. I got all that, and so much more.

Some things I’ve learned in my time at LexBlog:

  • Break up your blog posts. It’s difficult to read massive walls of text online, so often many people don’t. Break up your writing into smaller paragraphs, or *ahem* use bullet points.
  • Connect with people, be it in person or via social media. Reach out, ask questions, build those relationships – it makes you a better employee but, most importantly, it makes you a better human.
  • Social media is a powerful tool (heck, it helped me land my initial internship here, and the new job at the HOF!). It doesn’t shrink the world down, but it does make it more accessible – you can trade gifs back and forth with a bar association in the opposite corner of the country (gonna miss you, @TheFlaBar), engage with a law firm in India, and cover a legal tech conference in London.
  • Mistakes happen. Apologize to those affected, fix the mistake and then, most importantly of all, take action to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. It may feel terrible initially, but ultimately it’s another learning experience.
  • Don’t impose limits upon yourself. My friends used to tease me that I operated like a Luddite, or a tech-inept grandmother. When I first took over the front page of LexBlog.com I tip-toed around the backend of the site, ever-fearful of accidentally clicking something that might make the entire thing explode in a wave of code and flame emojis. But I read some WordPress for Dummies, sent Jared far too many Slack messages, and spent a lot of time poking around and testing things out, and ultimately was able to help create and edit demo sites, fix RSS feeds, and all manner of things that once struck fear into my heart.
  • Blogging can change lives. If Kevin hadn’t begun to blog 15 years ago, there wouldn’t be six of us sitting around a table typing away merrily now. And if Bob hadn’t started blogging, well, would legal blogging even exist as it does?
  • Never make a fantasy football trade with Scott. He’s always trying to swindle you.

As I was packing my things last weekend, I found the old legal pad I used when I first started at LexBlog. Each date was carefully boxed at the top of the page, with notes from meetings, thoughts, and assignments scribbled beneath. Phrases like “shine a light,” and “blogging to build relationships” littered the early pages. It seems funny that I felt the need to write those ideas down back then – they’re concepts that are so fundamental to me now that it feels like the equivalent of writing down “breathe,” or “drink water,” or “donuts are delicious.” 

So, thank you, LexBlog. I’ll no longer be a LexBlogger, but I’ll always be a blogger.

And a special thanks to Aimee, for the glorious (gluten free!) wine and cheese spread!

It has recently come to my attention that law bloggers can be a somewhat cautious lot. Though perhaps cautious isn’t the right word…measured, maybe? If you read through any of the blog posts on LexBlog’s front page it’s clear that a tremendous amount of thought and consideration has gone into the writing, on everything from Idaho’s marijuana laws to ICO breach notifications.

But it seems as though, at times, that careful consideration results in a delay in the publication of posts on topical news. We rarely see breaking news posts on LexBlog, which is why our editorial team waives the 200 word preferential limit for Featured Posts if said post is covering breaking news. That’s your LexBlog Insider Tip of the Day: if you want your post featured on the front page, shared across our social media platforms, and in the running for our weekly Top 10 in Law Blogs, write about something in the news today.

Take, for instance, all the recent news on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, including the Senate Judiciary Committee’s recent announcement that both Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, will publicly testify on Monday about the alleged assault. It’s a hot-button topic, rife with political and social controversy but, if you’re hesitant to make your own writing political, there are a number of other angles that could be taken when writing on this news. You could, for instance, blog about the Anita Hill hearings, when Hill accused Justice Clarence Thomas, then-President George H.W. Bush’s Supreme Court nominee, of sexual harassment. You could also blog about the potential outcomes of the Monday testimony, or perhaps there was a similarly controversial nomination within your district court. Heck, you could even write about the concept of Supreme Court nominations overall, and simply use Judge Kavanaugh as a means of contextualizing your blog post.

Breaking/current news posts needn’t be long, drawn-out treatises, nor do they need to force you to air your own opinions (if you are hesitant to do so). Instead, think of them as an opportunity to add your voice to a current conversation, and to help shape the discourse of a moment in history.

An odd duo, aren’t they? The football quarterback turned activist, who was recently the face of Nike’s ultra-viral ad campaign, and the world’s most famous painting. But the Mona Lisa wasn’t always regarded that way…

In August of 1911 three men from Italy snuck into the Louvre, and stole Leonardo da Vinci’s smallest masterpiece, which, at the time, was not even the most well-known painting in the museum – in fact, rumor has it that it took Louvre staff 28 hours to realize the painting was missing. What ensued was a viral event the likes of which modern marketing departments could only dream of – the Mona Lisa was splashed across the front page of every national newspaper, police questioned everyone from JP Morgan to Pablo Picasso, and, as tensions between France and Germany escalated before World War I, there were even rumors that Kaiser Wilhelm was to blame. Eventually the police found and returned Mona Lisa to her rightful place, but she would never again be anything less than the most famous painting in the world.

Before cell phones, before the internet, the Mona Lisa went viral, much as Nike and Colin Kaepernick did earlier this week.

One of the (many) benefits of working in WeWork is that they will often host lunch and learn events, put on by other members. Today, Brian Hallett, a Professor at IE University, gave a presentation on “When Brands Go Viral.” We covered a lot during the presentation, from finding the balance between surprise and familiarity, to discussing the role of gatekeepers aka peoples, influencers, companies, etc. that can either promote or suppress the spread of information from one network to the other.

What stood out the most to me was an exercise he had us do early on. I’d encourage you to give it a try yourself!

First, go to the social media page that you use most often. From there, look at the most recent thing that you have shared, and answer the following questions:

  1. Who did it come from? Did you see it outside of your network, or within your network?
  2. Did you share it with your own network or with another network?
  3. What does it say about you?

In my case, I had most recently shared an article from Bleacher Report about a former MLB catcher who recently retired to work with the National Eating Disorder Association. It came from a writer I follow, so it was seen within my network, and I then shared it in my own network. It says a few things about me: that I value the contributions of athletes off the field, that I care (or want people to see that I care) about mental illness and raising awareness of eating disorders, etc. The author is also someone I admire, but who doesn’t follow me back, so it was interesting to reflect on how my sharing of his piece was done, in part, to draw his attention.

Now, I’m no Caroline Metsker (LexBlog’s Marketing Lead), but as our Social Media and Editorial Coordinator I’m rather involved in the world of digital marketing. I certainly learned a lot from Brian’s presentation, and there are a few things I’ll be looking to implement with our social media strategy, but I’m not so sure that viral marketing should be our goal.

LexBlog forges new paths in the legal tech industry, so why should our marketing be the same as any other company? Often, viral marketing campaigns can feel forced – they’re designed to generate buzz for the company, to prey on the consumers’ emotions and appeal to what makes them feel good. Meanwhile, LexBlog is about building relationships and building trust – in our bloggers, in our platform, in us – and any marketing we do should be focused on developing those elements. The access we offer to the thoughts and opinions of some of the brightest legal minds in the world is unparalleled: reading LexBlog can be life-changing; writing for us can be, too.

If a LexBlog post goes viral, that’s great! Not because of all the clicks, or likes, or retweets we would get, but because that would mean that we’ve facilitated greater access to the incredible base of legal knowledge and news that our network provides.

Last week all LexBloggers received a mysterious Google Calendar invite titled, simply “Blogging Hour.” In the detail of the event, our COO Garry wrote that “Blogging is key to LexBlog. It is often difficult to find the time to write or talk with people about blogging. So I am setting aside this hour every week to blog and I invite everyone to join me.”

Five days later and I’m sitting in a conference room in the WeWork Holyoke penthouse*, typing at a table just a little more elevated than I’d like, surrounded by my blogging co-workers, real and remote. What a novel concept, a company that practices what it preaches!

So much of good blogging is about consistency – it’s one of the things we always encourage from new bloggers on the network – and it’s especially key if you’re hoping to build up a following for your blog. People have to trust that you won’t just leave them hanging after a post or two. But blogging consistency is also about you, the blogger. Much like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it becomes, and the next thing you know you’ve got a blogging habit.**

This Blogging Hour will help us hone our blogging habits, but it also allows us to prioritize writing and contemplation in a way that, let’s be honest, doesn’t always happen in a typical workday. It’s a structured hour, in that we’re here to blog, but we can blog about anything, from Member’s Only jackets to Gonzaga basketball. The freedom is almost overwhelming – which is, perhaps, why I’m here blogging about blogging – but I can already feel my Inner Editor retreating to the foreground. There’s a certain mental exhalation that occurs when you banish that Inner Editor. You’re not worried about typos, or grammatical errors, or the dreaded passive voice, you’re simply writing for the sake of writing. Blogging isn’t about perfection, it’s about opening up a discussion, prompting a conversation, sometimes it can simply be a tool to help you work through your thoughts on a matter.

In college I’d often write drafts of my papers by hand, then type them up later on. My thoughts flowed more easily, I scribbled more freely, and it let me avoid the many procrastination temptations that lurked on my laptop. Nowadays I only pick up a pen to attempt the daily NYT crossword – perhaps in our next blogging hour I’ll bring a pen and some paper. There’s a modern day tree-falling-in-the-forest conundrum for you: if you write a blog post by hand, does it still count as blogging?

*not a penthouse, just at the top of the building and high enough that I had to catch my breath before commencing the blogging

**this is a good thing, despite what your significant other may insist

As some may know, LexBlog is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, but we have a number of intrepid team members who work remotely (thanks to Scott’s recent move, though, we’re all at least in the contiguous United States now). Twice a year we sound the LexBeacon (picture a conch shell, with the LexBlog “L” ornately carved into it), and gather everyone at LexBlog HQ for a week of in-person meetings, conversations, and, yes, a little bit of fun.

Since this is our employee blog, I thought it’d be interesting to share some of our scheduled sessions and activities for the week…and also, maybe, possibly, this will encourage other LexBloggers to write about it, too. Perhaps they’ll come up with a catchier name than LexWeek?

We kick off the week today with a lunch and learn, which I imagine will also serve as Caroline’s introduction to the team. Caroline Metsker is our new Marketing Lead, and I’m certain you’ll be hearing more from her soon. Welcome, Caroline!

The week also features a number of breakout sessions, on topics such as Google AMP, supporting the success team, and the value of technical writing. I and, hopefully, others will share what we learn from these sessions here as the week progresses.

We’ll also be doing some less work-related activities, like cheering on the Mariners at Safeco Field on Wednesday afternoon (except Garry, Giants fan that he is), and running the draft for the LexBlog fantasy football league. Perhaps this will be the year someone finally unseats Scott?

Happy LexWeek!

This is the format of an ideal blog post. The most important part of writing an ideal blog post is to, you know, actually write it. Your thoughts are brilliant, I’m sure, but when you keep them within your head you miss out on the discussions that your ideas could generate, that could subsequently help shape your own thoughts further.

The topic can be anything – if you look at our Top 10 in Law Blogs posts you’ll see the subject matter ranges from cryptocurrency regulation to a monkey selfie lawsuit. Sometimes, if you’re having trouble narrowing down a focus, or want to generate more attention with your post, it can help to write about something current in the news.

Well-written blogs are clear, concise, and don’t take too long to get to the point. The cool thing about blog posts is that they can be as long as you want them to be, or as short as you want them to be; an amuse-bouche of insight, or an entree analysis . If your blog is on the LexBlog network, and you want it to be on the front page, it may be good to write at least 250 words for your posts. We’ll put shorter posts on the front page, too though, especially if they’re covering breaking news.

Other tips for creating an ideal blog post:

  • If you’re having trouble getting all your ideas to flow, go ahead and use some bullet points!
  • Always include some sort of title image – it will show up when you share your post on social media, and a number of social media studies have shown that you get better engagement when you include images.
  • Read over your draft before you publish – typos, or other minor grammatical errors take away from your good writing and ideas.

Last but not least, the biggest key to writing good blog posts? Be consistent. Writing blog posts, much like anything else, can become habitual, but at the beginning you’re going to need to make a concentrated effort to push yourself to write with regularity. That consistency is worth it, though, because it’s key in building up your blog and your personal brand.

Yesterday Michigan State University College of Law hosted “Building a Better Lawyer: Design Thinking, Training, and Study.” It was a workshop put on by MSU Law professor Dan Linna and his Legal RnD team, and co-led by Margaret Hagan, the founder of the Legal Design Lab at Stanford Law School. Margaret and Dan are two of the top figures within legal tech innovation, and they spent hours leading large and small group discussions about facilitating innovation, and how to build better lawyers. Lansing, Michigan is 2,289 miles away from Seattle but, thanks to Stephen Embry’s phenomenal post about the workshop, I, too, was able to learn from Margaret and Dan’s expertise.

The Oxford Dictionary defines citizen journalism quite simply as “The collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and information by the general public, especially by means of the internet.” I prefer NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen’s take on the definition:

When the people formerly known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another, that’s citizen journalism.

The internet is an indelible part of our lives today and, though that may at times be problematic, it has also thrown open the doors and allowed us to access information at an unprecedented rate. Through blogging and social media anyone with an internet connection can become a journalist; sometimes it’s silly, like the people on Instagram who report on their meals by sharing pictures of their food, other times it’s tragically important, like the interviews that student journalist David Hogg conducted with his classmates during the Parkland shooting.

LexBlog has always run on citizen journalism, and it’s become even more important as we’ve opened our own doors and begun pushing towards our goal of becoming the world’s largest legal news network. We want to hear from you, because your voice matters. We want to read about your thoughts on proposed legislation changes, workshops or learning events you’ve attended, and anything and everything in between (okay, we don’t really need to hear about what you ate for lunch). As Jared Sulzdorf, our Director of Project Development, pointed out at our all-hands meeting, “The law is all about opinions, and writing helps you shape your opinions.”

If you host a great event but fail to post about it on social media, did the event actually happen?

Our CEO, Kevin, has written at-length about the importance of a social media presence for bloggers, specifically when it comes to Twitter.

Without a Twitter handle the person cannot see the recognition I gave them nor the recognition others gave them by retweeting or favoriting my tweet. With a Twitter account, the subject receives notice of the shoutout via an email and a Twitter notification.

The same is true when it comes to conferences and other events. You’ve expended time and financial resources to secure good speakers, but when you fail to post about the event on social media, you fail to fully capitalize on your investment.

Clio does a spectacular job with this, with their annual Clio Cloud Conference. They have a hashtag that they use on all posts that pertain to the event, and share quotes, pictures, and videos throughout the duration of the conference. Attendees join in, using that hashtag to talk about everything from an inspirational keynote speaker to the colorful socks they’re sporting that day. Through social media Clio is able to create a huge buzz around the conference- #ClioCloud9, their hashtag, was even trending on Twitter for the two days of the event this year!

But Clio’s a huge company, you may be thinking to yourself, there’s no way we could make things happen on that scale. But you don’t need to have a large company, world-renowned speakers, or hundreds of attendees to successfully share your event on social media. Here are a few easy-to-implement tips, regardless of the size of your event:

  • Create a hashtag, and be sure to use it whenever you post about the event. Attendees will see it, and use it in their posts too.
  • Post on social media throughout the event. This could be quotes from various speakers, a picture of the crowd at a panel, an interview with a high-profile attendee, etc. Tag them in the posts, and they’re likely to share it as well.
  • If possible, record your keynote speakers, and stream their speeches via Facebook Live. This allows others, who were unable to attend your event, to hear what your speaker has to say and increases the reach of your event.

These are simple steps, but social media coverage goes a long way towards expanding the reach of your event, and your organization itself.