This is the fifth and final installment in a series of posts by Myers Freelance on the criticisms against ghostwriting legal blogs. Our earlier posts included:
- An overview of the arguments against ghostwriting legal blogs,
- How author bylines avoid issues with ABA Model Rule 7.1,
- How ghostwritten blogs do not violate ABA Model Rule 8.4(c), and
- Claims that there’s a “consensus” that ghostwritten legal blogs are unethical are grossly misleading.
Here, we’re going to deal with the underlying issue that critics have with legal blogging: Their worry that ghostwritten legal blogs dilute their platform of expression.
Ghostwritten legal blogs have come under some fire in recent years by critics and other lawyers who run their own blogs. The reasons given for their dissent, however, are somewhat vague and seem to suggest that they don’t really know what legal blogs can do.
By reading between the lines of what many ghostwriting critics say, though, it becomes clear that their main issue with ghostwritten legal blogs is that they think it dilutes the conversation in the blogosphere. In so doing, these critics overlook the fact that legal blogs are often used as marketing tools, rather than a self-published comments section in a law review.
Critics Think Ghostwritten Legal Blogs Dilute the Conversation
The legal blogosphere is an old and tightly-knit community. There are a handful of popular legal blogs out there that have been around for years and attracted strong readerships, from Above the Law to Lawyerist and SCOTUSblog, as well as hundreds of others. These platforms have provided publication avenues for many lawyers that don’t involve the frequently gated community of law reviews. As a result, legal blogs have become a marketplace of ideas and arguments involving lawyers who live their lives in the trenches of the legal world. By being able to self-publish their thoughts on legal issues, blogging allows these legal practitioners to express their thoughts and interact with other people in their fields.
For these bloggers, what they write isn’t about improving their rankings in search engines. They’re looking to network ideas and challenge ideologies in their field of work. For them, blogging is like an aggrandized website forum where they can talk shop with each other about the things they care the most about.
This is why they see ghostwriting as a threat: Legal bloggers who are more concerned with the legal ingenuity of their content see ghostwritten blogs as inferior. They think ghostwritten legal blogs dilute their conversation by letting what they see as non-practitioners into the mix.
The Reality: Two Completely Different Audiences
What these critics of ghostwriting overlook is the fact that they’re writing their blogs for a completely different audience.
Ghostwritten legal blogs are meant to appeal to lay audiences and search engines. The whole goal of a ghostwritten legal blog is to enhance its host website’s search engine rankings through the process of search engine optimization (SEO) and bring new clients to the law firm. This means that it has to conform to SEO principles, utilize online marketing techniques, and speak to people who are looking for an attorney or who think they might need one in the near future.
While these goals might seem similar to those of blogging lawyers, there are crucial differences. Lawyers who run and write their own legal blogs are primarily concerned with pushing their field and showing off their legal knowledge and chops. Bringing in new clientele is a secondary goal, and sometimes not even a concern, at all. Ghostwritten legal blogs, on the other hand, operate with the singular goal of drumming up new business. Ghostwritten legal blogs are marketing tools. Many of these other legal blogs on the internet are academic and professional pursuits.
Myers Freelance: Professional Legal Blog Writers
You can always maintain your own blog for your law firm’s website. But if you’re focused on developing your clientele then using your legal blog as a marketing tool, rather than as a platform for your legal thoughts and arguments, then hiring the professionals at Myers Freelance is your best bet. The world of online marketing is fraught with costly penalties for even the smallest mistakes that can tank your efforts if you’re unaware of them. Maintaining a legal blog is also a long and grueling process that is often not cost efficient for attorneys to spend too much time doing.
The benefits of doing it right, however, are a well-performing website that brings interested people in and converts them into paying clients.