Why Blogging Lawyers Should Tell Stories

Why Blogging Lawyers Should Tell Stories

Telling stories is something that most lawyers are good at and lawyer David Smyth of Brooks Pierce explained to JD Supra that blogging lawyers should use humor, video – even cartoons – to get their messages across.  At it’s heart, good communication in blogging is about good story-telling he says.

David Smyth’s blog Cady Bar the Door deals with white collar law stories.

His interview with JD Supra is below:

Why Blogging Lawyers Should Tell StoriesJD Supra: How did you get started?

David: In 2011 I started Cady Bar the Door because I was coming out of the government and starting from scratch in terms of being in private practice again. Nobody knew me as a private practitioner so I was trying to gain exposure. When I was at the SEC things would occur to me and I wished I could write about them but I couldn’t. It wouldn’t have been appropriate for a government employee to do. So, when I started blogging I began writing about those things.

What were your expectations for writing when your first began?

When I first began I thought everyone would immediately start reading and commenting on my blog and thinking I was really great. That turned out not to be true. But since then I’ve gotten to know a number of people through my blog I wouldn’t have known otherwise. I’d say my blog’s reach is deeper than it is wide.


What is your writing process?

I mostly write at home at night. I try to do more than just paraphrase press releases, which I don’t find fun or interesting. More recently I’ve starting making cartoons instead of just written pieces. You can convey a lot more detail and data in terms of statutes and rule citations in written pieces but I wanted a narrative that somebody can engage with in a different way — I wanted a different way to convey the information. Through cartoons you can do it in little stories that people can understand. Insider trading is a pretty complicated subject — a regular person isn’t really going to read a treatise or case law about it. Cartoons work at some level in terms of conveying to the lay-audience what you’re allowed to do and not allowed to do.

How do you benefit from your writing?

I’ll give you an example. A lot of people out there that like to raise money for others’ investment enterprises and they don’t always like to be registered brokers, which they generally have to be. In 2013, the SEC brought an enforcement action in which a private equity firm was charged with causing violations of the broker registration provisions. The firm hadn’t defrauded anybody, but was forced to pay a $375,000 penalty.

I actually talked to a new client about the case this morning because it’s a good example of the SEC enforcing the law outside the context of securities fraud, and the client is able to hear that and think, “Oh, ****, that’s what could happen to me if I’m not careful.” I did a lot of work with the registration provisions when I was at the SEC, but I left the Commission in 2011. If I’d just passively read the press release when the case was published, it would be hard to remember the details. But because in 2013 I wrote about it that information is now seared in my brain. Blogging has helped keep information at the forefront of my mind when advising clients about the regulatory hoops they have to jump through.

Occasionally people will want to be clients solely because they read something on the blog but a lot of the time it’s really indirect. Speaking engagements have come from it, friendships, it’s hard to assign a source for everything that happens but I think a lot of it has come from blogging.

Do you have any  takeaways for new bloggers?

First, I would discourage any competitors from writing publicly. They should probably just get some rest at night and not bother.

For others, I’d say to write the things you want to read. If you’re interested in it it will probably be a lot better. I sometimes write about things that I don’t really want to read because they involve rules that are being enforced that I need to learn about.

I try to keep titles relatively interesting. I don’t worry much about SEO. I don’t love when judges write joking opinions because it seems inappropriate. But a blog is different. You can write about substantive legal matters in a way that isn’t boring and I don’t think it should be boring.

Source: JD Supra


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