Lawyers are always concerned about liability – and bankruptcy lawyers in particular, given the fact that we’re required (in most places) to provide a slew of disclosures to someone pretty much the second we even think about opening our mouths.
So the knee-jerk reaction we all have is to turn off comments on our blogs. Because we don’t want to run afoul of the authorities. Because we don’t want to get roped into giving out advice.
I did this for a long time on this blog, but for different reasons. Then I got yelled at by Amy Derby. I hate getting yelled at, so I turned on the comments.
OK, Amy didn’t really yell at me – she just set me straight. And she was right.
My friend Liz Strauss asked today about The Value of A Comment. And I’ve been thinking about it in the context of our own little world, the microcosm of bankruptcy lawyers.
The point of a blog is to involve readers, to bring them into your circle of influence and engage them. Get them talking, hear what’s on their minds, and delve ever-deeper into the issues concerning them. By doing so, you create a vibrant community of people who come back again and again.
For bankruptcy lawyers, this is pretty important whether we like to acknowledge it or not. With the proliferation of bankruptcy lawyers coming online now and in the future, you’re going to get lost in the shuffle unless you engage your readers.
And it doesn’t matter how good your content is, how much of it there is, or how smart you are – if you don’t make a connection, you won’t make an impact on your readers. And you’ll lose the client to the lawyer who’s online and doing it right.
Now you’re going to fall back on the argument that accpeting comments opens you up to liability. Not necessarily. If someone posts a comment about his or her personal situation, put up a response telling them to call you in the office to talk about it. Let them know you can’t talk about individual situations online, but that you invite them to continue chatting in generalities. Use it as a platform to let people see you’re a real person, caring and involved.
By the way – the picture is of Dan Press, me (in the middle with the scrawny legs) and Brett Weiss. We are in Savannah, GA during our October 2008 Hilton Head meeting for the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. As you can see, both Dan and Brett are very serious, upstanding bankruptcy lawyers with no sense of humor whatsoever. Immediately after taking this picture, we resumed a heated discussion on the avoidance powers of a Chapter 7 trustee. Brett departed our meeting with a completed appellate brief and Dan had dictated his oral argument into a digital recorder.