Lawyers have lost sight of what legal blogging for business development is.

I was on a panel on legal blogging at Clio’s ClioCon Conference in Nashville on Monday.

Also sitting on the panel were Ifeoma “Iffy” Ibekwe, who parlayed her blogging into a book deal, high profile writing and speaking opportunities and Bob Ambrogi, who rules legal technology coverage via his blogging, podcast and legal tech site.

Clio’s Teresa Matich moderated the panel in a way that inspired the audience and answered common questions on blogging.

When questions started, it was apparent there are two schools of thought on legal blogging among lawyers.

One, hire someone to incorporate a blog into your website, have them enter content in the blog and measure results by Google ranking and web traffic analytics.

The other, a blog which a lawyer publishes on an independent site apart from a website, ala a magazine or journal, so as to build relationships and a reputation to grow a lasting stream of business. Here, the lawyer writes their own insight and commentary.

It was clear the majority of the audience thought a blog was the former, while the panelists were of the later school.

Some lawyers thought you just hired a company or someone employed by the law firm to do all of your “networking through the Internet,” whether it be blogging or social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or anything else.

I couldn’t help but think that lawyers were returning to the days of yellow pages, TV and radio advertising.

The days when the yellow pages salesperson came to town and told you what work for your full page, $60,000 a year ad. Put a green border around the ad and your picture in a circle, both to build “trust.”

When you weren’t sure how lawyer advertising worked so you trusted the seller of advertising, assured by the fact that every other lawyer was doing the same.

Twenty years ago, lawyers were apt to look at blogging as publishing to establish authority – to be the go to person in their field.

Speaking engagements ensued, the press called you, you were cited by other leading legal bloggers and referral sources and prospective clients saw you as not only staying abreast of developments in your field but being widely respected in your niche.

Top search engine results – without paying for SEO – were the byproduct of this blogging.

The goal of such blogging was revenue – significant revenue – as opposed to analytics. And such revenue came.

Social media, used by the lawyers doing such blogging, was done for reputation and relationships. Like networking at an event, a lawyer would not send someone out to appear for them.

It was sad – at least to me – to see that most lawyers had little idea how blogging and social media could work for them, while helping people at the same time.

In all likelihood, many lawyers – maybe most – would go the route of hiring out their “blogging” for SEO and analytics, even if the lawyers knew what blogging was.

But given a level playing field where lawyers were not taught, or better put, sold, what blogging is, we’d have lawyers looking at blogging as a way to generate work and a reputation by personally blogging.

All I can do is better educate lawyers on blogging and to showcase the best legal bloggers so as to inspire lawyers to really blog.