find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Offline lawyers finish last

Offline lawyers finish last

Put the 'I' in your legal writing, start up a blog and get moving on the information superhighway before the American lawyers steal all the thunder.It has swept throug

Put the 'I' in your legal writing, start up a blog and get moving on the information superhighway before the American lawyers steal all the thunder.

It has swept through consumer communities to news channels and even to the corporate sphere. Cautious at first, lawyers are now finally giving it a go, and exposing themselves to legal and non-legal communities alike.

Giving blogging a go, that is, and in all its many forms - from posts about a chang­ing aspect of law, to diary style write-ups, opinions, video logs, message boards and podcasts.

For switched-on lawyers not at the mercy of their firm's marketing and communications departments, the chance to tap into a new means of raising their professional profiles - and have some fun at the same time - is opening via web-based publishing tools.

But in Australia something appears to be holding the lawyers back. Is it an engrained stigma of conservatism on Australia's legal elite that's pulling the fingers from the key­board? Maybe so, but some local bloggers are nonetheless making their mark in cyberspace.

For Paul Brennan from Brennan's Law, online technology has rapidly become his key creative outlet - a way to personalise the law and keep up with clients and friends at the same time.

He has various blogs, including his satiri­cal site "101 reasons to kill all the lawyers", driven by his cartooning abilities, as well as a regular "Law and Disorder eZine," a number of ebooks and various podcasts.

His work is representative of the new wave of writing that's changing access opportunities to legal information and, in the process, offering some effective tools for lawyers and law firms looking to market themselves and raise their profile.

But there's one important factor in the style of language that's taking hold on the internet - and a factor that may be difficult for lawyers to come to terms with. The use of the word 'I' personalises the message, ensuring the writer takes a position on their opinion and responsibility for the level of guesswork delivered.

Noric Dilanchian - managing partner at Dilanchian Lawyers and active blogger on sites such as his Lightbulb IP blog - notes a number of sins in the traditional modes of legal writing that can be overcome through online mediums.

"Lawyers often write for an audience they only perceive as being in-house counsel or other people qualified in law," he says."Another sin is the high-brow style of writing, the choice of grammar and words - often it's an indication that perhaps the person writing doesn't understand the subject well enough to simplify it."

Dilanchian believes that such attitudes may hold Australia back competitively in a global market place, noting that American lawyers are writing, innovating and using available technology creatively.

"American lawyers don't have this belief that you must speak the Queen's English, with a high-brow accent and tone for you to sound like you know what you're talking about," he says. "I'm not surprised that American lawyers blog vastly more than Australian lawyers."

That said, there's still the challenge of building interactivity via comments and user participation. "I think people are a bit embarrassed putting their thoughts up there because they think that other people will criticise," says Brennan.

The challenge is further exacerbated in the legal community, where lawyers are not just missing the point on blogging, but, Dilanchian believes, closing themselves off altogether in their unwillingness to embrace

the user-generated phenomenon at all.

"The number of law firms offering RSS feeds is a joke," he says. "The law industry is incredibly locked up and is in need of a lot of innovation."

While Brennan finds some disappointment in the lack of reader contributions, he does realise satisfactions in the consequences that can occur by being active online. "Nice things happen," he says. "Just last month I was contacted by an American greeting company looking to use my cartoons on greetings

in the United States."

Meanwhile Brennan's comments, opinions and cartoons have reached the Australian Financial Review, Lawyers Weekly and even The Lawyer in the UK.

For lawyers, a strong online presence could also mean that journalists come knocking. In sourcing a legal expert for a particular story, Google becomes a useful tool and lawyers who are active online will be the obvious beacons to approach.

Brennan says: "The potential for exposing yourself is incredible. We all know that marketing is like pushing cotton down a tube, you keep pushing and something happens, something you wouldn't think."

More importantly, says Brennan, blogging, podcasting, video logging and the like, is fun.

Dilanchian, noting that it assisted in getting this journalist to call him, says his online presence also encourages clients to call, people to make enquiries and the ability to ensure his knowledge is translated and documented. "Lawyers know an enormous amount and about one per cent of that is recorded - that's a tragedy," he says.

From Dilanchian and Brennan the advice is to get writing and release those bottled up thoughts to the online community.

But first remember: keep it short, keep it simple and avoid generalities. If it's a rehash of what others have already said, nobody's going to want to read it and if it's about law, too many words will surely scare the reader off.

- Angela Priestley

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Offline lawyers finish last
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
Dec 15 2017
Timing ‘critical’ in unusual contempt of court ruling
A recent case could have interesting implications for contempt of court rulings, according to a Ferr...
Dec 14 2017
International arbitration and business culture
Promoted by Maxwell Chambers. This article discusses the impact of international arbitration on t...
Papua New Guinea flag
Dec 14 2017
World-first mining case launched in PNG
Citizens of Papua New Guinea have launched landmark legal proceedings against the country’s govern...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...