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Friday Share: The Making of Lawyerist, Lifehacker for Lawyers

The Making of Lawyerist Lifehacker for Lawyers

Frustration can be motivational.  In many ways frustration was what prompted Sam Glover to start a blog circa 2007. Originally called SoloSmallTech.com, the side project, for the practicing attorney with a solo law firm, would eventually blossom into a professional news site.

“I got frustrated with software options available to lawyers and wanted a place to discuss it,” he said in a phone interview with the Business of Law Blog.  “A blog was a natural way to do this.”

Today Lawyerist boasts close to 150,000 visitors a month according to Compete.com and the business, Lawyerist Media, LLC, now counts additional media resources:  a newsletter, an active Q&A forum, and a podcast.

More recently the site has added an emerging advertising network with a who’s who list of legal bloggers including:

The story behind the making of Lawyerist is this week’s Friday Share.

Lifehacker for Lawyers

In the early days, he published blog posts just a few times a week.  True to origins of blogs (weblog) his entries were a journal of sorts.  It was an “outlet” and “a diary of my tech explorations for a law.”

“As I learned the right way to do things, I started publishing those ideas,” said Mr. Glover. “As I gained experience, I started doing more of that because I saw an opportunity to help people.  It became a lifehacker for lawyers.”

A few dozen readers turned into hundreds and a vision started to emerge.

One Who Lawyers

Mr. Glover felt the original name for the blog was too limiting. “I really wanted to write about practicing law or running a law practice,” he said.

Certainly technology is part of running a successful law practice, but it’s not the only thing.  His interests centered on a broader theme: creating a site that served as a lawyering survival guide.

As a result, he changed the site’s name to Lawyerist, which he says translates to “one who lawyers.”

The new name and improving content caught the attention of Aaron Street, who Mr. Glover credits him with seeing the potential.

Over lunch the two agreed to partner up and transform the blog into a business.   Both gentlemen invested $125 each, drafted articles of organization and announced the formation to the world.

Traffic doubled overnight.

With traffic growth, Lawyerist evolved to become Mr. Glover’s full-time job.  Though he officially shut down his law practice just 18 months ago, he says he effectively stop practicing 2.5 years ago.

A Bar Journal with Character

While there are a number of blogs dedicated to the solo and small law niche today, that wasn’t the case when the Lawyerist was first started. The first-mover advantage in combination with the passion and first-hand experience gave the site a head start that’s hard to replicate.

Even as the site has grown, its mission remains the same: the site is still dedicated helping independent lawyers. It’s that purpose Mr. Glover says, that provides a level of editorial integrity on which readers have come to rely.

Even as the site has added professional elements, such as editors and process, it still runs on WordPress and has a “bloggy” feel to it.  However, there is no confusing the thoroughness for the content, with the manner in which it is presented.

“It’s a bit like an independent bar journal,” said Mr. Glover. “A bar journal with character.”

The Next Chapter

The business makes money by selling advertising but it’s been an evolution and not always smooth. Mr. Glover confesses the site has “had a few stumbles and hiccups” and is currently “muddling through sponsored content.”

Even as a business, the community still comes first.  There is a clear line of delineation between advertising and editorial content.  In addition, the business model doesn’t concede the site’s promise to readers:  Lawyerist wants sponsored content to be valuable both for the community and sponsor.

“We can write about this stuff without feeling like we’re shoving it down people’s throats,” he said.

As a bootstrapped venture, Mr. Glover says Lawyerist has always been profitable.  While he brings the same tenacity for process and procedures to the site, that he preaches to law firms, his team is only beginning to think through next steps.

For now, Lawyerist is at ease doing what it has always done:  helping small law attorneys prosper in a changing world – and learning how to be a better lawyer but also one that is both ethical and profitable.

Rather than an outlet for venting frustration, the Lawyerist may well be a path to avoiding it.

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Readers interested in more can find Lawyerist on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.  New content is also available via email subscription and RSS

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Photo credit: Flickr, Kathleen Tyler Conklin, Quill and ink well at the State House (CC BY 2.0)

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About Frank Strong

Frank Strong
Frank Strong is the communications director for the LexisNexis software division located on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh. In this capacity, he leads communications efforts in support of software products for law practice and law department management and also litigation tools – across large law, small law and corporate counsel segments. With more than 15 years of experience in the high-tech sector, Strong previously served as director of public relations for Vocus, which developed marketing, PR and media monitoring software. He has held multiple roles both in-house with corporations, ranging from startups to global organizations, and has also endured the rigors of billable hours, having completed gigs at PR firms including the top 10 global firm Hill & Knowlton. A veteran of two year-long deployments, Strong has concurrently served in uniform in reserve components of the military for more than 20 years, initially as an enlisted Marine and later as an infantry officer in the Army National Guard. Strong holds a BA in Film and TV production from Worcester State University, an M.A. in Public Communication from American University, and an M.B.A. from Marymount University. He is a PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver and holds a USPA "B" skydiving license.