Monday, July 16, 2007

Why in-house counsels do not blog? Or do they?

During an interview with a journalist interested about in-house counsels who blog, some questions were raised that left me thinking. Here they are with my personal opinion. No matter if you are an in-house counsel or not, please comment: the journalist really wanted an answer!

1) Why do you think so few in-house counsel blog?
a) Are they too busy?
b) Is it not acceptable at most companies?
c) Do they see no benefits?
d) Do you think there are in-house lawyers who are blogging, but never mention their company or their occupation, so you would never know?

I would say most of the above!

First, let’s say that I don’t think b applies as it is always possible for an in-house counsel to blog personally, without dealing with his daily job. As I do. In such circumstances, I don’t think an employer could refrain his employee to do something he likes on his personal time, unless that impacted on the lawyer’s work at the office.

Definitely, in-house are too busy! With the new corporate governance rules, in-house counsels have become more than simple counsels on legal matters and must rather act as business persons dealing with things like whistle-blowing, document management, etc. Nowadays, in-house in major North-American companies work as much, if not more, than private practionners. Often, they do so with less support and resources.

Obviously, the benefits of blogging for an in-house are less interesting than they are for private firm lawyers. Here are some posts regarding the benefits of blogging for lawyers:

Top 10 Strategic Benefits of Blogging
Michelle Golden on the PR Benefits of Blogging

As you realized, most benefits are on the marketing and profiling side. Therefore, unless you want to be seen as an expert in a particular domain or if you are truly geek in-house counsel :-), there is no reason to start blogging. I guess, as a litigator (and a geek), I started to blog to discuss about new trends in litigation that I couldn’t read about in legal books, journals and magazines. I also wanted to share my love for technologies with my fellow lawyers and get to know like-minded lawyers from the interactions on the web.

I have to admit my blog brought me an exposure I was not aware of when I started. I get offers to speak and write all the time about different topics that I discuss on my blog. As most of you know, lawyers with my degree of experience rarely act as speakers. Most of the time, they draft the presentations for their mentors… The only reason I am contacted by journalists and conference organizers is the profile that I built on the web. And for the moment, it is a free field where many ripe fruits are waiting to be picked.

This might be the reason why in-house counsels should blog… Unless you plan on spending your whole career in a corporation, blogging is a good, easy and cheap way to build your profile for your plan B.

Finally, yes I think there are in-house lawyers who are blogging, but never mention their company or their occupation. I suspect they blog about their grandmas recipes, their children’s first words, etc. Quite frankly, I would not link a family blog to my job. However, I doubt many in-house are hiding being a pseudo to blog. They sure comment confidentially though… ;-)

4 comments:

Steve Matthews said...

Dominic,

Have you seen Mike Dillon's blog at Sun?

Steve

Dominic Jaar said...

Yes. To get other in-house counsels take on the issue I sent my post to other in-house counsels' blogs:

Mike Dillon at Sun

Adam Golodner and Jeffrey Campbell at the Cisco High Tech Policy Blog

David Munn at Fair Isaac Corporation.

Jonathan Wilson at Web.com, Inc.

Hanna Hasl-Kelchner of Lorillard Tobacco Company

David Rudin said...

Dominic,

I've found that blogging from in house can be rewarding, but also somewhat difficult. Besides time constraints, by nature of the position, I have exposure to confidential information that one cannot risk disclosing. Moreover, one must write with the understanding that quotes may be taken from a blog post and used in other contexts such as news articles. As an attorney, those words may been seen as indicating company positions on various topics. Within these constraints, words and topics need to be chosen carefully.

Dominic Jaar said...

I tend to agree and it is the reason why I stay far from what I do at the office. The only exception is law practice management, that is more personal anyway.