The Firms

July 7, 2009 5:36 PM

No Time for Blogging When There's Work to Be Done?

Posted by Zach Lowe

James Beck of Dechert and Mark Herrmann of Jones Day have acquired one of the largest audiences in the legal blogosphere with their Drug and Device Law blog, considered a must-read for anyone interested in that subject matter, so we listen whenever they pontificate about legal blogging. And this week they began kicking around possible reasons why none of the ten most profitable law firms--as measured by Profits Per Partner--have firm-sponsored blogs

We decided to ask those firms themselves, so we put out calls to managing partners and spokesmen at nine of the ten firms (we excluded Kirkland & Ellis, because, as Beck and Herrmann note, a Kirkland associate played a role in creating the popular Sports Law Blog) to ask them about their stance on blogging. The conversations we had centered on a general theme: The firms just don't see the point. They are already successful, so they don't feel the need to market themselves or prove their grasp of a particular subject matter in the limited spare time they have. 

We'll let Jonathan Schiller of Boies, Schiller & Flexner sum it up: "I think the lawyers here are just too busy," he says. "I'm too old to blog. I'd rather play golf if I have a bit of free time."

We wonder, though, whether there is much difference between blogging and putting out so-called client memos and (often) displaying those memos on a firm's Web site. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, for instance, has about as austere a Web site as exists online anymore, and thus seems perhaps the least likely candidate in The Am Law 100 to produce an opinionated or less formal blog. But the firm regularly releases memos that are quite opinionated, including one in the fall that implored the SEC to reinstate the Uptick Rule to limit short-selling. That could just as easily have appeared on any high-brow economic law blog. (A firm spokeswoman and name partner David Katz did not respond to our messages seeking comment.)

Not to mention that other firms among the New York elite (but outside the PPP top 10) have firm-sponsored blogs, including Proskauer Rose, which houses the popular (and fairly regularly updated Privacy Law Blog). Other top firms have allowed their lawyers to write for heavily opinionated political blogs; one of the three lead writers on the hugely popular right-leaning blog Powerline is a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Our guess is that we will see more firms gradually open up to firm-sponsored blogs. That's happening already; Kevin O'Keefe, who monitors legal blogging more closely than pretty much anyone, found last month that 41 percent of the Am Law 200 firms have a sponsored blog--a 110 percent increase over the last two years.

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For an actual law-related blog by an Akin Gump partner, shouldn't this article have noted Tom Goldstein's well-respected SCOTUSblog?

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