The coronavirus has had an impact on nearly every facet of American life, at this point.
One of the things that has become vividly apparent over the past few weeks has been the lasting vitality of the legal blog. Lawyers who have kept one have become an indispensable source of reliable information on how court closures are going to affect real people, in practical ways.
The Coronavirus Has Closed Courts Across the Country
We maintain legal blogs for our attorney clients across the country, covering every time zone. Everywhere, courthouses are shuttering in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, delaying trials and refusing to hear new cases for the sake of social distancing.
Where courts are closing to the public, they are remaining open for “emergency” hearings. What constitutes an “emergency,” though, means different things to different courts, and is changing by the day and sometimes by the hour.
Defining the contours of an emergency hearing has been one of the most pressing issues in the past few days. On the one hand, there are some clear non-emergencies, like emergency restraining orders for trademark infringement.
On the other hand, though, there are some disconcerting gray areas.
For example, we’ve seen courts say – often in the very announcement that they are closing – that applications for emergency restraining orders are an emergency that could be heard and issued right away, just like normal. However, those courts have stated that the hearing that would extend that emergency restraining order did not constitute an emergency, and would be scheduled for whenever courts were to reopen after the shutdown… Until defense lawyers pointed out that their clients had been constructively evicted by the restraining order without the chance to defend themselves.
This is just one example of the numerous, and seemingly never-ending, changes that courts have had to make on the fly to continue providing the services that the public needs, all while preventing large congregations of people.
Legal Blogs Have Been the Front Line for Critical and Time-Sensitive Information
Local media has been utterly inadequate for relaying this crucial information to the people who need it, the most. They have had their hands full covering the rest of the pandemic, and have never been good at relating the detail-heavy developments that tend to come out of the legal field. Courts, meanwhile, have kept closure announcement vague and details sparse, leaving people to wonder if their particular case would be affected.
Legal blogs have been a shining beacon of light on this front. Lawyers who are watching the courts react to the coronavirus have used blogging to relate that information to the people who need it, the most, and in a readable fashion. The court is closing: Yes, you can still get an emergency restraining order. No, you may not be able to defend against it, if you’re the target of the order. That’s right, this means you may have to wait until courts reopen. Yes, it’s unfair, and we’re working hard to get the court to hear your side of the story. In the meantime, here are things that you can do to help your own case.
These are just some of the subjects that lawyers have been covering in their blogs. Others, like whether the coronavirus could help in a bail hearing, whether you can face criminal charges for spreading COVID-19, or even how to live in quarantine with a spouse you are trying to divorce, are all ripe for discussion.
Readership is Way, Way, Way Up
The vast majority of legal blogs are rarely trafficked, their articles hardly ever read. Reliable blogs tend to see articles being read a couple of times a day or maybe five times a week. The best legal blogs out there see their top-performing articles get read about a dozen times per day.
Coronavirus content has been getting read at nearly 10 times the regular rate. We’ve seen articles being read by over a thousand people in a single day.
This kind of interest is rare – we’ve never seen legal blogs being so hot. We’ve never seen legal blogs being hot, at all. We regularly tell interested clients who want to build a legal blog to tone down readership expectations – that blogging is mainly about the SEO, and that the vision of avid readers, hungry for the next installment on res ipsa loquitur is a fantasy. The universal concern about the pandemic, the pressing need for details for people who have a court hearing coming up, the vague interest in how different parts of society are reacting to the virus’ spread, plus the boredom of quarantine are creating a perfect storm where legal blogs have become interesting to a wide variety of people.
The Blog Format is Perfect
A growing concern in the legal blogging community has been the evolution of search engines that has taken them away from blogs and towards standalone, targeted pages. The release of the Freshness Update has turned the dateline on legal blog posts into a stopwatch of relevance. As time passes, legal blog posts lose prominent rankings in the results pages as search engines see them growing stale.
For the legal field, where time-sensitive developments are either going to have long-lasting effects or are not really worth writing about, this has made the blogging medium a serious problem. Most blog-worthy material is evergreen, making it better to publish in a targeted page that has no dateline.
The coronavirus is as topical as it gets. With things changing so quickly, we’ve even started adding a “last updated” statement at the top of blogs, because the dateline doesn’t include the hour of publication. Many of our posts evolve so drastically that we’ve had to write entirely new articles to cover it all.
Online Legal Content Marketing at Myers Freelance LLC
We really wish that we weren’t in this situation. But we are, and maintaining a legal blog that covers how the coronavirus is affecting life is helping the public understand what’s going on and how it will affect their legal rights.
Contact us online to get started on your law firm’s blog, today.