As Bob Ambrogi shared this morning, the LexBlog news network is now open to all legitimate law blogs (with a working RSS feed) – in the United States and worldwide.

Starting Friday evening I began emailing law firm marketing leaders attending the Annual Legal Marketing Association Conference in New Orleans whose large firms blogged, but not on the LexBlog platform. By last night I reached thirty-plus firms.

My purpose in emailing was to let them know LexBlog was open to their blogs, to introduce them to Bob, who is spearheading things as our editor in chief, and to offer to meet with them in New Orleans to answer questions and introduce them to Bob.

The response from these folks via email and text has been very favorable. Bob, David and I will be In discussions with quite a few starting tonight and continuing into Tuesday and Wednesday.

Our “opening” of the LexBlog news network is line with our January discussion/LexBlog team meeting where we communicated our goal to become the world’s largest and most comprehensive legal news and information network by curating the valuable insight and commentary of bloggers world-wide.

As Bob explained when he joined LexBlog, the most vibrant legal commentary today was coming from bloggers. LexBlog, having brought blogging en masse to the law beginning fifteen years ago, and with undying passion for blogging and the law should and will lead in taking legal blogging to the next level.

The next level means, among other things:

  • Framing and building a community of citizen journalists and commentators on the law
  • Open and free access to legal news, insight and commentary
  • Email and RSS subscriptions by blog, area of law and search
  • Free visibility of legal commentary published on law blogs – on the LexBlog network, third party sites, email newsletter/subscriptions and social media
  • Feeds of legal blog posts into legal research services, including FastCase
  • Forthcoming profiles of bloggers and organizations and their contributions
  • Forthcoming use of AI to identify relevant content for users

Just. because a blog or law firm joins LexBlog does not mean they become a customer or licensee of our digital design and publishing platform. We’ll certainly talk with new contributors about our platform, but the use is not free – except for law schools and certain non-profits.

For our valuable customers, which have taken us to this level, opening LexBlog makes being a LexBlog customer more valuable. Beyond design, a highly performing publishing platform, strategy, SEO and support, our customers will see an increase in visibility and influence as their contributions are discovered and seen.

LexBlog, as a news network, is still in its early days. Our tech and product teams are working hard on changes to the interface to make LexBlog more of a publication, an aggregation engine for customer blogs, an RSS syndication tool for a more effective means of aggregating non-customer blogs and more.

As a success team member, you may receive questions from clients. Share what you know and call on Garry and Isabelle for questions. Same goes for Bob, David and I. Communication, communication and communication.

As with all climbs and jumps when aspiring to do more to serve others, there will probably be a few speed bumps. Know that you are making a tremendous contribution to the law, the profession and to the people our profession serves. Thanks.

I was reminded of a meeting yesterday with my COO, Garry Vander Voort, while watching the College Football National Championship game last night.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban changed quarterbacks at halftime of the National Championship Game.

Alabama couldn’t get anything going in its runing game in the first half. Trailing Georgia 13-0, Saban went into the locker room, huddled his quarterbacks together and said we’re going with Tua in the second half – and may rotate back in our starter. Nothing more.

Changing quarterbacks is not unusual in its own right, but Tua Tagovailoa was a 18 year old freshman who hadn’t played a meaningful down in college football. The starting quarterback had won 25 of 27 games he started. Now Tua’s going to replace him to lead Alabama, the pregame favorite, back to win a championship.

Why the change? A quick gut feel by Saban that Alabama needed to pass in order to win. Their power running game was being shut down by Georgia and Tua was a better passer. Simple as that.

Tua threw two touchdown passes, including a walkoff bomb to another freshman in overtime to win the National Championship. A play after he got sacked for 16 yards,  a play so dumb Saban said afterwards Tua wouldn’t have been capable of throwing the game winner had he been able to get to him.

A ten minute gut decision by Saban won Alabama the game. Saban’s sixth national championship, tying him with legendary Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most championships in college football history.

Yesterday afternoon, Garry and I were talking about LexBlog’s evolution to a publisher. By curating the contributions of legal bloggers worldwide, LexBlog would become the world’s largest source of legal news and information. Bob Ambrogi inspired both of us, big time.

Historically,  LexBlog only curated LexBlog client blog publications — blogs running on our WordPress managed platform. Recently we’ve had talk of including non-LexBlog platform blogs at a cost of $50 per month. Turns out many legal bloggers were paying far for syndication and this was considered a steal by folks contacting us.

But as Garry and I talked, such payments ran into credibility problems. Largest legal news source, but only from contributors who paid?

Also had problems with growing fast. Getting people to take money out of their pocket and to put it in yours is not always easy. We’d never get all the good law bloggers and it would take a lot of time and human resources to get those we did get.

It complicated things too. LexBlog does a lot of free work for non-profits, law schools, and legal tech organizations. We would want all of their blogs, whether on our platform or not, to be included at no cost. Boy, was that going to get gray as to who’s free and who’s not. Who gets billed and who doesn’t is a mess for accounting.

I also saw more revenue opportunities by being inclusive and much bigger, faster. More relationships. More sales of existing products,. Sales of new products and solutions.

Why get bogged down on a smaller revenue items when not charging frees up time to get after large revenue.

In less than five minutes, Garry and I went with our gut. Every legal blogger (real bloggers) will be curated at LexBlog at no cost. Credibility, simplicity, growth and a big goal on the horizon – world’s largest legal news and information site by curating the contributions of legal professionals world-wide. Totally in line with Ambrogi’s thinking.

Neither Garry or I are Nick Saban. But if a guy who’s won as many titles as anyone can go with his gut on a national stage, why not us?

A post on Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites blog has propelled many a legal startup to success.

People have approached me at conferences asking if I know Bob Ambrogi — as if he were some sort of rockstar. I have seen other folks approaching Bob at legal conference receptions wanting to introduce themselves and a co-founder.

They’re all hoping to get Bob to cover them and their company at LawSites.

In addition to tech driven aggregation and curation of blog posts by niches, there may be some low tech ways of shining a light on law blogs and law bloggers.

Maybe it’s individual pieces on blogs and bloggers. Years ago, LexBlog ran a Talk of the LexBlogosphere. Rob La Gatta interviewed bloggers on and off the network. Some of the bloggers weren’t even lawyers. The goal was to inspire people to blog by highlighting great bloggers.

We ran top 10 blogs of the day. This was started by Rob La Gatta after we discussed how the website, Fark, highlighted a 100 or so news stories a day for community comment. That’s been pared to once a week, but is still much appreciated by network members — especially so by those included.

With Ambrogi on board and moving to a publisher status, there may be some “easy” ways to shine a light on bloggers and blogs which we may be missing.

Looking in to stories, interviews, lists of posts, list of blogs with descriptions, niche publications and the creative use of social media we may find some low hanging fruit.

Rather than a marketing company or a company selling marketing solutions, why not create a publication?

A publication that builds a legacy brand. A publication that carries on for years, the way we have seen newspapers, magazines and trade journals do for decades — until the net.

LexBlog was started as a company that “built blogs for lawyers.” The blogs were and are used by lawyers and law firms for marketing. Marketing in the sense that one built a name and relationships from blogging.

What if LexBlog were a publication with contributors as lawyers looking to market themselves – to build a name and build relationships.

Publishing models founded on paying reporters and editors and selling advertisements for revenue are failing. But what if as opposed to paying contributors, they paid you?

Not a lot, maybe $50 per month (unless you are looking for more). Why would they pay? For the same reason thought leaders write for the Harvard Business Review, Forbes and Bloomberg.

But here, all of the contributions, in addition to being published in LexBlog, would be published and archived on independent publications/blogs with a title, branding and domain in the name of the respective contributor(s).

Unlike other publishers and distribution services, canonical tags would tell search engines that this independent publication/blog serves as the original or primary site and that the piece on LexBlog is a duplicate.

The model would include satellite publications so that contributors’ pieces could be published in niche publications, such as Pharmaceutical AI or Michigan State University Law Today (alumni, professors, students).

LexBlog as a publication would exist not to shine a light on itself, but to shine a light on its contributors.

The publication exists to intelligently and professionally aggregate for ease of reading and discovery. Editors will curate and display/report contributions of value. It’s not a pay for play.

Just thinking out loud here. Am I nuts?

Buffer is a web and mobile application that enables users to schedule posts to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

I’ve been using Buffer for years after people told me I was sharing some good stuff (other people’s posts and articles) on Twitter, but that a lot of it was coming out about midnight Pacific Time. Buffer enabled me to share posts as I was reading them, but to have them post to Twitter throughout the business day and early evening in ten minute increments.

Buffer has also been a good startup for me, as an entrepreneur, to follow. Co-founders Joel and Leo (left earlier this year) always looked for feedback, always listened to customers and always responded to support questions 24/7 – even before I moved up to the paid level. They’ve also been terribly innovative in new features and user communications.

Today, I got my “Social Media Report Card” from Buffer by email. Here’s the top portion.

Buffer social media report card

And the bottom portion. You can see I don’t use for Buffer for my LinkedIn and Facebook posts.

Buffer social media report card

I haven’t in the past paid much attention to Buffer report cards, and probably won’t now.

But I am intrigued by the simplicity of the information that’s easy to browse and compare week to week numbers. It’s this type of info that draws in the competitive types – like lawyers.

Could LexBlog have a user report card?

  • By firm, by blog or by author?
  • What would it include?
    • Number of posts?
    • Number of readers on he web?
    • Number of readers by email?
    • Number of readers by RSS?
    • Number of readers by social media?
    • Where have posts been shared?
  • What platform features have been used and not used?
  • How often would the report card come out? Weekly, monthly or weekly?

I am not sure what it would measure. Could be any number of things so long as the number is not too large.

One fear I have is that it may that could incentivize things that are not as important in blogging – numbers over quality through listening, engagement and a conversational tone.