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Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice has taken on the world of blogs in a big way: Our firm now sponsors seven blogs on everything from construction law to trade secrets. More than a dozen lawyers and staffers keep the blogs busy with many different types of posts — summaries of newspaper and trade-press articles with brief comments, thoughts about recent government actions, discussions of new court rulings, and new links of interest to people who follow a particular industry or area of law. At our 520-attorney, 10-office firm the lawyer-bloggers give a variety of reasons for what they are doing. • ”I’d like to think of our telecom blog as the �Page Six’ of the telecom industry. I don’t ever want to post the same things that our clients can read in the

FCC Daily Digest,” says D.C. partner Ross Buntrock. • ”We try to write blog entries that are of interest to the construction industry, regardless of whether they are law-related or not. We don’t consider ours to be a legal blog but an industry- and client-oriented blog,” says Winston-Salem, N.C., partner Karen Carey. • ”I don’t know of anyone else who is responding to South Carolina and 4th Circuit appellate decisions and discussing them on the Web the way that I am,” says Greenville, S.C., partner William Watkins.

Thus far, Womble Carlyle regards this venture into the blogosphere as successful. The various blogs have recorded between 100 and 250 hits (visitors to the site) per week. And this is what we’ve been doing. MARKETING TOOL “This really started in the middle of 2005, when Bill Watkins started blogging on his own time,” says Press Millen, the firm’s Raleigh, N.C.-based marketing partner. “We recognized that this could be an important marketing tool for us, and we decided to bring Bill’s blog into our Web site. Then we encouraged lawyers in various areas to try it out. I am pleased with the way the blogs have gone.” Millen, who runs a blog on trade-secrets law with partner Todd Sullivan, says the blogs have helped the firm cement its relationships with its clients. “On various issues that Todd and I have written on,” Millen says, “we will note that something has specific relevance to a particular client or type of client. We will say in the blog, �You need to think about this issue.’ Our clients are very appreciative, because this shows not only that we are thinking about law but that we are thinking about them.” Watkins says that he has received several calls from potential clients who have read his blog and want him to take on an appellate case. So far, the firm has not been able to accept any of those because of client conflicts, but Watkins says the right time will come. Millen has been pushing Womble Carlyle lawyers to find the time and the inclination to set up blogs that cover their industries or legal specialties. He points to the trade-secrets blog as an example. Either he or Sullivan posts something on the blog nearly every workday. On Sept. 18, for instance, Millen discussed the ongoing case against three people charged with trying to sell Coca-Cola trade secrets to PepsiCo. A lawyer for one of the defendants, Millen wrote, had just filed a motion asking a judge to order prosecutors to identify the precise trade secrets at issue. “This is always a tricky issue in such cases since Coke will want the filing to be as far under seal as possible and preferably otherwise vague,” Millen commented. Millen believes that blogs can help a firm’s marketing program by establishing the firm’s expertise in a particular industry or area of law. The result, the firm hopes, will be greater name recognition in the marketplace, the continuing loyalty of existing clients, and the growth of its client base. “A blog is a very palpable way to back up claims that you are knowledgeable in an area. You have to write frequently and your claims have to be credible,” Millen says. “In the trade-secrets blog, we can show our readers a body of work after almost a year and hundreds of postings.” Another key player in blogging at Womble Carlyle is Internet marketing manager Aden Dauchess, who researched and located blogging software that is easy for nontechies to use, walked lawyers through the posting process, and set up clear links from the main page of the firm’s Web site to all seven blogs. Before Womble Carlyle’s Web site was tweaked a few weeks ago, the blogs were not as easy to find on the site as they are now. Right now the word “Blogs” appears prominently on the main page with links to all the blogs. A BIT OF A BITE The blogs vary in tone and content. The telecom blog, written by D.C. communications partners Buntrock and Michael Hazzard, can have a bit of a bite to it. Womble Carlyle represents several smaller telecom companies whose interests are often opposed to those of Verizon, and last month Buntrock and Hazzard posted the following: “We were amused today by the New York Times story below the fold on the cover of the Business section headlined: �Verizon is Rewiring New York, Block by Block, In a Race for Survival.’ . . . The New York Times story shows the brilliance of Verizon’s PR and legal machine, which has sought (successfully in many cases) to convince regulators that they and the other 2 remaining [Bell operating companies] are on the verge of being put out of business by the cable companies and Vonage. . . . In fact, Verizon’s version of �barely surviving’ is having cash flow from operations for [the second quarter of] �06 . . . of $11.5 billion, which is $1.6 billion better than the first-half of last year. “Pardon me while I dab a tear.” The Womble Carlyle trade-secrets blog covers a wide range of material, analyzing matters such as the recent signing by the New England Patriots of a Buffalo Bills player for one week, allegedly to pump him for Bills football secrets. The blog also analyzes the ongoing scandal at Hewlett-Packard involving “pretexting” on the part of a private investigator engaged in a leak probe. Millen wrote: “What happens if the company knows nothing about how the investigation is conducted, but then the investigator comes forward with a report that indicates that laws were broken during the course of the investigation? Again, the lesson is that companies need to be careful when hiring private investigators and board members should expect to be held to a high standard.” The construction-industry blog, written by partner Carey and five other attorneys in Womble Carlyle’s construction law group, keeps an industry focus rather than a legal focus. Recent posts discuss the trend toward “green” buildings, a survey showing that homeowners want energy-efficient homes, and the extent of new construction projects at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. “We have dealt with possible new legislation, with issues of risk allocation, and with industry trends,” says Carey. “Not every entry is law-related.” In my role as a writer and communicator for the firm, I have been placed in charge of a blog, at least for now. Last spring, I took on the assignment of starting a real estate blog for the firm — specifically, one that deals with mixed-use development in the Southeastern United States. I had never written a blog before, and my days are busy with my media relations work at the firm, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I undertook the task. Fortunately, mixed-use development — an urban-planning concept, very much in vogue this decade, that combines residential, commercial, and other types of land use in a single project — is not a difficult concept to understand, and it is an interesting one. A good deal is being written in the popular and trade press about mixed use. So I simply jumped in and started posting, usually taking my lead from newspaper and magazine articles or press releases and trying to draw some conclusions from my reading or to ask questions for further thought. In my role as a mixed-use blogger, my long-term objective is to make myself unnecessary, or at least less necessary. Womble Carlyle’s real estate lawyers know mixed-use development very well. Now if they were only a bit less busy with client work, they could do some of the blog posting. In the meantime, I will wear the blogger’s mantle proudly.
Jonathan Groner is senior communications counsel at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice. He is based in the firm’s D.C. office.

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