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Oct. 30, 2006, was the day my personal light bulb went on. On that day, my book, The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Practicing Law, was ranked No. 47,369 on Amazon.com at the instant the Wall Street Journal Law Blog published an online book review. Within 36 hours, the book catapulted to Amazon ranking No. 434. Legal blogs (or “blawgs”) are powerful tools, and I was missing the boat. Not only that, I had a few unpublished ideas kicking around in my head, which I though would surely fuel a blawg for awhile. It turns out that I was one for two. Blawgs are powerful tools, but my few unpublished thoughts were not nearly enough to feed the beast. To launch the Drug and Device Law Blog ( http://druganddevicelaw.blogspot.com), I called a friend at another law firm whose knowledge of the field and dedication to task struck me as the right combination. We committed (to each other) to write a minimum of three posts per week to provide the blawg with a continual stream of fresh content. We also hedged our bets. We had never blogged before, and we had no idea whether our little experiment would work. We therefore chose to host our site on “Blogger” and post PDFs to which we link on “FileDen,” both of which are free services. We later started monitoring traffic to our site on “Google Analytics,” which is also free. The blog is thus entirely costless, but for the life’s blood the two co-hosts contribute. We’ve now celebrated the first anniversary of our blawg, and we’ve learned four lessons. First, blogging � or, at a minimum, blogging about substantive legal issues � is hard. Perhaps it’s easy to host a blog that simply pokes fun at current events by commenting on, and linking to, the news of the day. I wouldn’t know; I’ve never done that. At the Drug and Device Law Blog, we analyze litigation strategies, dissect new cases and examine trends in the law. Each post defends a novel legal thesis or otherwise adds substantive content to the blogosphere, although we try to write the posts in a breezy, informal style. That’s harder than it seems. To attract and maintain a readership, a blogger must regularly post fresh content, written in an engaging style, about interesting issues. That means investing time each week searching for content, analyzing issues and crafting a worthwhile post. On some Saturday mornings, after you’ve wasted an hour reading a 50-page opinion and come up with nothing worth saying, the game hardly seems worth the candle. Second, blogging is personally satisfying. A well-crafted post is not simply a pleasure unto itself; it also provides immediate gratification, when the post attracts attention in the blogosphere. When other widely read blogs link to your new posts, you see an instant spike in traffic. And some of your new visitors will become enamored of your style or content and become regular readers of your site. Third, law firms, like law schools, are clueless about how to value blogs. In academia, tenure committees fret about whether blog posts count as scholarly publications or, indeed, whether they count as anything at all. Law firms have even less experience with this medium. Should firms encourage lawyers to write blogs or forbid them? Sponsor blogs (to claim credit) or disavow them (to avoid risk)? We chose not to have our firms sponsor, or otherwise be affiliated with, the Drug and Device Law Blog. That avoids embarrassing our firms if we inadvertently post something that comes back to haunt one of our colleagues or clients, but it also denies our firms the benefits of a raised profile in the blogosphere. Clear benefits to blogging Finally, the spoils: Blogging pays off. It pays off in part by being a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whether or not you know anything about drug and device products liability law, you appear to be an expert in that field as of the day you launch the “Drug and Device Law Blog.” Impressed by your expertise, and hoping that you’ll mention them online, complete strangers begin sending you e-mails containing unpublished decisions, creative ideas and endless other tidbits relating to drug and device law. Eventually, your blog becomes a clearinghouse for information about the subject it covers. By staking a claim to some online turf, you gradually come to dominate that turf and to become an insider on events in that field. Hosting a blog also raises your own personal profile. The print and broadcast media search the blogosphere for experts who can provide insights into current legal issues. If you want to be found, you must exist in the relevant world: Establish an online presence. My co-host and I have been interviewed in our year of blogging by the Wall Street Journal, The National Law Journal and countless papers in between. Blogging is not for everyone; indeed, it’s not clear that it was meant for me for any length of time. But, so long as my energy holds out, I’ll continue my little experiment. Who knows? Maybe we’ll survive to a second anniversary. Mark Herrmann is a partner in the Chicago office of Jones Day.

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