At BlawgThink there seemed to be at least two camps of people when talking about blogging and blogging in the legal profession. One suggests that the blog should be a very strategic activity which is designed to draw a specific audience and build reputation of the blogger and their firm. The other camp suggests that blogging should be about your passions and will naturally stray from the specific field in which you practice. Ernie the Attorney is probably the best exemplar of the latter. He is very happy with what he has done with his blog and the network of friends and colleagues that has grown up around it - as well as the clients he has found as a result.
Dennis Crouch (Patently-O) has to be the poster child for building a reputation through a laser-focused blog. Within two years of getting his law degree, he is considered an expert on patent law, has contributed to a book, and has brought clients to his firm. None of these things are the traditional path of an associate at a law firm. This has ramifications for people who are trying to figure out how to demonstrate to the world their expertise. And it has implications for the session Jim and I ran as credibility is a major component of the lasting impression.
What makes the most sense to me is the idea that blogs enable connections. Regardless of whether the blog makes money directly, people recounted the connections they've made with people they would not otherwise have met. Blogs help establish colleagues, expertise, and reputation: they help us connect to people. I kept thinking back to the model of community-as-neighborhood, where people interact out on the street and have a regular home from which they base their operations: the virtual front porch. This satisfies a deep need for many people.
In response to a question about who has made money from their blog, someone tried out the phrase "Return on Blogging" which got a few laughs. But more telling was Marty Schwimmer's comment that blogging has created another social network in his life. People draw business from those social networks, so the question about "return on blogging" has to go deeper into how well developed are the social networks that have resulted from blogging. Have those networks produced any clients?
Kevin O'Keefe, who was also at BlawgThink, also points to some relevant commentary on Why write a blog?
Seems obvious to me as a way to enhance a professional's reputation but Rich Ord, CEO of iEntry, Inc., has a nice post at Webpronews asking Why Write a Blog? And it's not just because CEO's, entrepreneurs and other business professionals are publishing blogs.
... if notoriety is your motivation I think your blog is doomed. Starting a business blog should be about the reader, not the writer. It should be about providing readers with information and ideas that are useful and unique....