Some immigration clients, prior to seeking to instruct, are now increasingly independently undertaking research either in relation to a particular firm or specific individual profiles. From speaking to immigration clients I have formally taken on who have visited my blog, it is evident that they could only have come across the blog after having themselves sought to gain some prior understanding of the law potentially affecting their particular position. It thus seems surprising that currently, not many individual immigration solicitors/legal advisers are undertaking legal blogging in their own right. Apart from having a genuine enjoyment in blogging and seeking to gain a better understanding of the law and subsequently also sharing it, the results of persistent blogging correspondingly can be the start of or give rise to an increase in numbers of queries from potential immigration clients.
Other independent view on legal blogging:
“Most lawyers prefer to explain the law to their own clients rather than to the world in general. Such an approach is short-sighted, writes David Allen Green…” in an article from the Solicitors Journal dated 1 February 2016, The revival of legal blogging, http://www.solicitorsjournal.com/comment/revival-legal-blogging
Mr Green continues, “…….Of course, there is no shortage of ways of writing about law, from notices and reviews to case summaries statutes, contracts and pleadings, which are the very stuff of the subject……. The problem was that too few practising lawyers were taking advantage of the form. And this is still the case among solicitors. There are only a handful of solicitors who blog – or indeed tweet – with large follower numbers. Some might say this is due to the type of people who become solicitors, but I suspect it is more to do with rigid social media policies, risk-averse partners, and over-powerful ‘comms’ departments. A junior solicitor at a large City firm would be unlikely to be able to blog, even if she or he wanted to do so………One of the problems the legal profession faces – as the front page of any tabloid will tell you – is that the public can have a dim view of law and lawyers. The more lawyers take the time to explain the law to the public the better informed the public debate on legal matters will be, and blogging, with its flexibility and ability to link to materials, is an incomparable way of doing this”.
It is a matter of personal choice, where having gone through all that legal training and acquired a bit of valuable practical experience, whether interested solicitors/lawyers have the gumption to undertake legal blogging in their own right. That is, with a view to appropriately expressing themselves, set up a blog site in their own personal capacity.
With so many changes being brought in by the UK government in the area of immigration and asylum year after year, including publication of new caselaw with seeming dizzying frequency, there will always be much to write about either by way of simplification of the law or its critique.
Why there might be a lack of interest or unwillingness to undertake independent legal blogging:
There are several reasons why immigration advisors may be reluctant to undertake independent blogging, including:
- Why go through the bother of setting up a blog and maintaining it, when I can always refer to so and so ‘s blog on the issue, if need be?;
- I simply do not have the time and neither would I get any benefit out of blogging;
- My firm’s website has a blogging section;
- My firm takes care of marketing- why bring in clients from my own sources/efforts to purely benefit the firm;
- I do not have time to undertake requisite chargeable hours and meet my billing targets, so why spend much needed energy and time blogging ;
- Meeting my deadlines, compliance with my general caseworking duties is sufficient; I will read up on any other updates when I come across that particular issue if and when the time comes;
- I can always read up on updates in law in my own time without needing to express/share the same subsequently with anyone else;
- What if no one, apart from me, reads the blog?
- Why risk getting the law wrong publicly;
- I do not need to blog in order for myself or anyone else to know that I know the law
Benefits in social media involvement generally from the Law Society’s perspective:
Although aimed primarily at practicing firms, the Law Society’s Social Media, Practice Note of 18 June 2015 might be a useful starting point when looking at some of the benefits of engaging in social media.
Among other matters( including risk issues), the Note refers to the following benefits:
- Commercial benefits arise from the ability to communicate with a wide and/or targeted audience;
- Social media activity is beneficial for engaging with clients and other professionals, for example through direct and immediate feedback from those who have used legal services, and can be used to allow greater access to legal information and resources;
- Social media provides greater opportunities for professional networking, and enables geographical barriers to be broken down, for example setting up a profile on LinkedIn, an internationally recognised social media site, facilitates global access to your profile.
- It can be used to debate, share opinions and share experiences by ‘posting’ or commenting in public spaces.
- Engaging in social media can be used to raise the profile, and general awareness, of yourself and your practice.
- It provides an opportunity for you to determine what information is available online about you and your practice, rather than relying on third parties to do this for example through news articles.
- You have an opportunity to shape the messages about you and focus on the areas of your practice that you would like promote.
- The lack of geographical barriers and constraints offers those engaging in social media activities the opportunity to reach a wider audience than would otherwise have been achievable via other more traditional forms of communication.
- Social media activity could be an efficient marketing tool for promotion of you/your practice’s legal services.
- Having set up a social media channel, engaging with clients and other professionals via social media is likely to be relatively low cost.
Setting up a blog in your own right has the following advantages amongst others:
- There is no need to have the prepared article approved by anyone else before publishing- only your own confidence can carry you through in relation to the substance and content of the article.
- If ever a need arises to change employment, the independently prepared articles posted on your own blog site remain there. Retaining your own separate blog at all times, ensures that the continuity of your own blogging is not disrupted and the benefits of the prior hard work is not lost.
- You chose what area of immigration and asylum law you wish to write about on each occasion so as to publish.
- You are in charge of the true extent of your own professional development.
Whether a short or lengthy piece is being prepared, legal blogging can be quite time consuming and as such there needs to be a willingness to set aside regular time specifically for this purpose.
It is also worth remembering that it may take some time for visitors/readers to notice a new blog, however that does not mean that an interest will never arise. It is a matter of giving it time but continuing to blog. Statistically, observing from the number of views or visits per blog posting or even search terms used by visitors to the blog, assists in ascertaining which particular areas in immigration and asylum law visitors may have a particular interest in.
More interestingly, it is also possible to know on a daily basis whether the blog is attracting visitors, not only from within the UK but also abroad.
Some blog postings may draw increased or repeated visitors to the blog. On the other hand, some postings will emerge not to merit much views. So as to avoid disheartenment, there is a need for real enjoyment and genuine interest in blogging activity for the blog to be of continuing viability, regardless of what the blog statistics sometimes may say on some particular days.
Some blog posts may generate comments. If this happens, it is an encouraging occurrence. Whether or not the comments are good or bad, feedback is always important and at least means that someone out there has read the blog.
Legal blogging can be viewed as contributing to the blogger’s own professional development. If you will consider that you are going to read up on that new caselaw, statutory provision or home office update in your own spare time, then why not also go further and write up on it and blog it?