Todd Lebowitz is a partner at BakerHostetler with a practice niche handling independent contractor misclassification disputes and joint employment issues. He began creating content in this niche that could be helpful to clients, potential clients, and other attorneys in 2015 and this led to his launch of the award winning blog Who Is My Employee?.
As you might have noticed, I share examples on Minimalex of attorneys that have used creating content as a way to improve their legal careers. While increasing exposure and potentially attracting new business is always a byproduct, the impact of writing & speaking often has additional benefits as well. Todd was nice enough to share how he got started producing content and the impact it has had on his legal career.
Can you tell us a little bit about your practice area?
I have always practiced in the area of employment law. Early in my career, I handled single-plaintiff discrimination cases and that was a wonderful learning experience. However, as I progressed as an attorney, I began wondering what would be my next area of growth.
The obvious path would have been to do wage & hour work but I came upon the more nuanced area of independent contractor misclassification. It became clear that this is a huge issue in employment law and I could not find any dedicated experts. Not only that, but independent contractor misclassification is a high risk area for a lot of companies whose business model is built around this issue. The laws can be different in every state so that adds an additional layer of complexity. After choosing to focus on this area, my clients are now often large multi-state organizations.
When did you decide to start publishing content on this topic?
While I had written on various topics throughout my career, in late 2015, I began working on a white paper called Independent Contractor Misclassification: 2016 Legal Analysis. The firm helped me launch and distribute the paper in January 2016. There was significant positive feedback and it increased awareness of my niche area both within and outside the firm.
Because of the success of the paper, I considered writing another white paper or creating an update on this frequently changing topic. However, I realized two important points. First, this niche had frequent cases and changes that I could write about. And second, I wanted the opportunity to communicate with my readership on a more frequent basis. This led to the decision to start a blog.
Once you decided to create a blog, how did you get up and running?
I began researching how to write a blog and cornered another partner at a firm retreat that has a class-action blog. I landed on WordPress as my platform and learned a little bit of coding to get the site designed and ready to launch. Additionally, I wanted to have a few posts ready to go as well as background information to create a more complete site. Who Is My Employee? launched in January 2017.
Lawyers have so many demands on their time that posting frequency can be an issue. How frequently do you publish content?
I publish on Mondays and Thursdays with very few exceptions. Frequency isn’t my only purpose though. My real goal is to be entertaining while people learn something new. There are enough legal blogs and emails to read that I thought it was important to make it worth reading. It’s fun and challenging to write.
There is a lot of advice to start a blog but disappointment can come when people realize that readers don’t automatically appear just because you wrote something. Did you do anything to promote your posts?
At launch, I did a blast email within the firm letting people know about the blog. I also sent an email to a large group of contacts from Outlook. Additionally, I started a Twitter account and connected with a number of human resources professionals. It’s also a good strategy to look at the followers of other people you respect to see who else you might follow. I’m fairly active on LinkedIn so that was helpful as well. There is a short list of other blogs that I link to and I’m sure some of them have reciprocated.
What response have you received to what you were posting?
The response has been great. It can be hard because you don’t get immediate feedback like public speaking. However, even the occasional email from someone saying they like what I’m doing keeps me going. Posting on such a consistent basis has also been fantastic for increasing my knowledge base on the topic. Additionally, I’ve been able to be invited to more speaking engagements because of the increased profile and credibility.
I always encourage people to reuse the content they have worked so hard to create. Have you used the content of your blog posts in other formats (speaking, articles for other sites/publications, etc…)?
It has actually worked both ways. Sometimes I’m able to use the content from my blog as I prepare for a speaking engagement and sometimes preparing for a presentation gives me additional blogging topics.
Has the blog impacted your ability to bring in business?
Yes, it has had a positive effect, both directly and indirectly. I have made new connections with readers, some of whom I did not know before and who then retained me. I have also made new connections indirectly, through posting content on LinkedIn and Twitter, and by seeing a spike in invitations to speak at conferences, where I have the opportunity to meet more people who are interested in the topic. Current clients of the firm have also learned of this practice niche because of the blog, which has led to new engagements.
Any final thoughts for lawyers that are thinking about starting a blog?
For someone starting a blog, my two suggestions would be:
- Choose a niche because it allows you to stand out.
- Keep it interesting. There are too many other blogs and competing interests on time so you have to be interesting.
Thanks for your time Todd!
If you are looking to grow your practice and wonder if you are maximizing your business development opportunities, take a look at the Minimalex coaching program and let me know if you have any questions.