Articles Posted in Blogs of Law Firms

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If some method were available to assess the quality of blog posts, lawyers as a group would learn more quickly and benefit more from blogs. Currently, each blog post is equal in value – however “value” might be determined – to every other blog post. My research into the blog posts of large U.S. law firms must stop at the point of quantifying many aspects of those posts; no technique exists to describe them or assess them qualitatively.

Analogies to what such a qualitative method might entail come from law, academia, intellectual property, and programming. When a court’s opinion is cited frequently in subsequent opinions, we can count those later citations and infer that a more frequently-cited case has more importance than a less frequently cited case. When a professor publishes a paper, citations to that paper provide a rough measure of its quality. If other academics rely on the paper’s findings, presumably those findings have value and the higher the citation number, the more value. Likewise, when patents cite prior art and related patents, the patent applicant has made some assessment of the importance of the cited patents. Finally, if a question asked on StackOverflow has been viewed hundreds of times, you can guess that the topic is deemed important by many people. In all four of these areas, there are sources that compile the data that people want.

Blog posts have no similar measures of the level of interest they raise or their evaluated worth; more’s the pity.

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We have looked at the blogs of the firms in this series according to their substantive legal practice area. Most of the blogs have a substantive focus, such as tax or anti-trust. But what about the sub-topics that are secondary to the substantive focus?

To collect the data in the graph below, I visited each blog and either took the blog’s self-description or devised what I thought would be important sub-topics of the blog. When all those sub-topics were compiled I regularized them and then plotted the ten most frequent sub-topics.

For example, iPhone.JD, by Jeff Richardson, a partner at Adams and Reese, has a substantive practice focus of telecommunications, but I assigned it sub-topics of privacy, cyber-law, and perhaps others.

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This post looks at the topics of the blogs described previously. Recall that forty-nine large US law firms host one or more blogs. When you categorize those blogs by substantive legal practice area, you find the distribution shown in the plot below.

Topic numbers June 25
With 30 of the blogs focused on it, by far the dominant practice area is employment law. Why? Because every corporate client (or hoped for client) has at least one employee, because a bewildering array of Federal, state, and local laws and regulations complicate employment arrangements, and because it mixes counseling and litigation.

Next comes litigation, with a score of blogs addressing that practice area. Some treat the topic generally; others pick portions of the broad litigation spectrum, such as appellate practice or class actions.

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Many U.S. law firms host blogs. They do so in part so that in-house counsel find them if they search for a topic on the internet or so that they develop followers of the blog who are interested in the issues dealt with by the blog. Law firm blogs, in short, are marketing.

But how many law firm blogs are there? I researched the blogs of 65 U.S. law firms that have 200-300 lawyers. Those firms are Adams and Reese; Archer & Greiner; Armstrong Teasdale; Baker & Daniels; Balch & Bingham; Bingham Greenebaum Doll; Boies, Schiller & Flexner; Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck; Burr & Forman; Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens and Cannada; Cahill Gordon & Reindel; Carlton Fields; Chapman and Cutler; Clark Hill; Cole, Scott & Kissane; Dickinson Wright; Epstein Becker & Green; Faegre Baker Daniels; Fenwick & West; Fisher & Phillips; Foley Hoag; Fredrikson & Byron; Gardere Wynne Sewell; Gibbons; GrayRobinson; Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn; Ice Miller; Kelley Drye & Warren; Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear; Lathrop & Gage; Leonard Street; Loeb & Loeb; Lowenstein Sandler; Maynard, Cooper & Gale, McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter; Miles & Stockbridge; Miller Canfield; Moore & Van Allen; Morgan & Morgan; Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein; Phelps Dunbar; Porter Wright Morris & Arthur; Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer; Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi; Robinson & Cole; Roetzel & Andress; Saul Ewing; Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick; Shutts & Bowen; Steptoe & Johnson PLLC; Stinson Morrison Hecker; Stites & Harbison; Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young; Strasburger & Price; Stroock & Stroock & Lavan; Taft, Stettinius & Hollister; Thompson & Knight; Vedder Price; Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz; Warner Norcross & Judd; White and Williams; Wiley Rein; Williams & Connolly; Williams Mullen; and Winstead.

The plot below shows how many blogs I identified for each firm. In coming days I am going to write about various ways to analyze the blog data from this set of firms.