TL Advisory: Blogs a Major Commitment, Carry a Downside

RESTON, VA., Re-published Dec. 18, 2012 (TLC News)  — The online revolution has redefined marketing for everyone, as websites, search and digital content today play a key role in the promotion of any business or professional practice.

But blogging — writing regularly for an online audience, to optimize traffic to your website and to show others how bright and reliable you are — poses more risks than consultants and promoters of blogs are letting on. “It’s certainly not something to jump into,” says TLC Director Stephen Clark.

LexisNexis, now owned by a New Zealand company that controls Martindale-Hubbell and, emailed a newsletter to the legal community this month extolling the virtues of blogs by lawyers and law firms.  It promotes a July webinar by law marketer Larry Bodine, who asserts that lawyers will receive “88% more leads from consumers if you blog … and 67% more leads from businesses if you blog.”

The newsletter points out that blogs on law firm sites help boost search rankings by generating a fresh supply of keyword-laden text. It recommends that you be reliable and regular with your posts, be personal in style, and of course re-broadcast all your blog writings to Twitter and Facebook.

According to Clark, a former newspaper publisher and Wall Street financial writer, launching and sustaining a web log for your business is a fine idea — if you have the time, discipline and have a clear idea of your objectives, both for the blog and your practice.

But most professionals don’t, and they shouldn’t make the kind of commitment required to make it successful.  There are serious issues to consider before committing yourself or your practice to blogging. Here are a few:

1) Once you start a blog, you can’t stop, at least without raising questions about why you launched a blog in the first place.  Thus the commitment is not minor. Unlike news sites, blogs offer no  revenues except perhaps Google Adsense advertising on blog pages, which is either inappropriate or won’t pay enough to justify the advertising, says Clark.  “You are entering a new line of business — it’s called publishing,” said Clark.

2) Lawyers and physicians generally have levels of expertise that require years of work — that expertise is valuable, and shouldn’t be paraded out casually online. They should be chary of publishing their insights in blogs, which by definition are accessed by a faceless, nameless audience.  Doing so can degrade their status, and risk cheapening themselves and their services, Clark says.    Further, getting too chatty just makes you look unprofessional, he adds. “If you are any good at what you do, people want to look up to you,” says Clark. By blogging, “your reputation can be damaged without even knowing what you wrote to damage it.”

Here’s another aspect of “too-much-information risk”: We know of several lawyers whose blog posts have come back to haunt them in litigation. “Once you lay details of your courtroom strategy out for the world to see,” says Clark, “it’s inevitable that the other side will use your public comments against you in court.”

Then there’s the digital peanut gallery. Commentaries and opinions common to blogs are open to scrutiny by readers with all kinds of motives. They often prompt exchanges with anonymous readers that devolve into a waste of time — or worse. “That recalls the old saying, ‘Never wrestle with a pig — you both get all dirty and the pig likes it.'”

3)  Average blogs don’t require a lot of time, but very good blogs worthy of high-quality practices require a ton of time. With every post you make an editorial judgment — what to focus on, what style to write with, how much to disclose — and that process takes time. The better you are, the more time it requires.  There is no question that writing helps focus your thoughts, and blogging can be valuable to the writer.  “I know a lot of bloggers who showed they are authorities in their field — and it helped them get a job,” says Clark. Any professional who wants a practice to grow should be focused first and foremost on performing well for paying clients and patients, Clark says.

4) Other online activities are more important. Whatever client-retention statistics consultants pull out to justify blogging, good clients — reasonable, sophisticated people with resources — hire you not because you write a blog or what you post on it.  As the best professionals know they still retain you by referral — and then after vetting you online.  That’s why, Clark says, the issues of site quality and reputation protection are much more important that any web log. A site doesn’t need to be complicated or laden with text — in fact, less is always more — but it must reflect a simple message that conveys your values as a professional.  The site is an extension of you and your practice. And reputation protection — identifying and challenging third parties that post critical, anonymous reviews of a professional’s services, and monitoring irresponsible sites like — is far more important today than blogging.

5) Blogging as a means to raise your standing with search engines is overrated, primarily because you and your firm’s site will always be found when potential clients conduct an online search using your name or your firm name.

If you search by your practice area — “New York Plastic Surgeon” or “Bay Area Employment Lawyer” — your site is competing with a throng of aggregating sites that spend substantial sums to appear on the first page of Google or Yahoo results.  Blogging may improve your position, moving you from say page 5 to page 4, but no amount of blogging will help your site crack the top tier of results, particularly now that Google fills the top of the first page with paid results.  And in any case, according to Clark, listing on aggregator sites tends to attract less sophisticated clients.

6)  Twitter and Facebook are in their relative infancy, and are evolving quickly. Using them requires the same kind of time commitment that a blog does, and like a blog they pose risks as well.  Facebook and Twitter are fine as a mass-distribution tool (indeed, corporations and big retailers moved to Facebook quickly because they could identify and track users) but threading your Blog posts to social media only expands the risks that the blog itself already presents.  “Any professional who seeks a high-quality client base should be careful about committing to a regular presence on Facebook, or regularly Tweeting. There is too much potential for misinterpretation or some kind of backlash. At some point you’ll be tempted to ‘give away’ your expertise. Right now I would avoid both,” says Clark.

7) Blogs produced by third parties — common on the sites of financial advisors, an industry that generates lots of low-cost content and market reports — are not that useful for the sites of high-end professional practices.  Clark doesn’t recommend them,  largely because the professional loses control of the message, and because a third-party blog is even less effective as a search-optimization tool.

8) The bottom line is that there are plenty of ways to demonstrate and project your professional competence, and many are the traditional kind: Speaking before professional groups, teacher and continuing education settings, and writing articles for professional journals.  Your online presence can refer to all of those, and help build your credibility and authority in the digital age.

One example of a useful, steadily produced blog is Charles Abut’s — a stream of professional developments for divorce lawyers in New Jersey. This blog is a dry recap of court and case-law minutiae, and is clearly not intended for a mass audience. But it serves the purpose of helping position Abut, a longtime independent divorce lawyer and mediator, as a resource of the rest of the divorce-law community.

Virginia Law Firm Sponsors Roller Derby League

VIENNA, VA Oct. 2 (TLC News) — A Northern Virginia law fi rm specializing in divorce law has hit the rink – the Women’s Roller Derby Rink, to be precise – and scored big with a unique promotional sponsorship.
Masterman, Krogmann & Diño, well known in Virginia
divorce-law circles, decided in 2011 to break through the legal
marketing din with a sponsorship of DC Roller Girls, the metro
area’s fl at-track women’s roller derby league.
“We knew it was a little different for a law firm,” says
David Masterman, founding partner of Vienna-based
Masterman, Krogmann & Diño and a member of The Ten Leaders Cooperative. “But no one ever described our firm as dowdy or
stuffy – we were looking for something with energy and good
people. And that’s what we got.”
In fact, according to Masterman, the firm received
case referrals from league players in late 2011, the first year
of the firm’s sponsorship.
Other sponsors are “a mile away” from legal services,
Masterman says. They include a Capitol Hill yoga spa, a DC
family-owned hardware store, and a Tupperware-style business
that sells adult novelties. “I know old-line firms who would never
consider sponsoring a women’s roller derby league,” says
Masterman, himself a one-time punk-rock musician. “But that’s
fine with me. The sponsorship makes us part of a fun and
original community.”
Masterman said the “very reasonable” league sponsorship
gives his firm a banner presence at all games and audio plugs
during timeouts. “It’s not the Nationals or the Redskins,”
Masterman added, but he said players and league organizers
have “personally made a real effort making sure the
sponsorship works for us.”
DC Roller Girls league (Motto: “With Liberty and
Justice to Brawl”) was founded in 2006, with its fi rst tryouts
in a Rosslyn, Va., parking lot.
Today, games take place at the Dulles SportsPlex in Sterling, Va.
Games typically attract several hundred spectators.
The Roller Derby league includes nearly 80 participants,
who according to the league’s website ( come
from “all walks of life: teachers, nurses, writers, artists, librarians
and work-at-home moms.”
Teams include The Cherry Blossom Bombshells and The
DC Demoncats, as well as an All-Star team that travels around
the country. One team comes from as far as Salisbury, Md., to
compete in the league.
“At the end of the day our work is about helping people
from all walks of life, too,” says Masterman. And, he says, “my
kids love going to the games.”

Ten Leaders Divorce Lawyers Handle “TomKat” Split

RESTON, VA. (TLC News) — Manhattan divorce lawyers and Ten Leaders inductees Allan Mayefsky and Michael A. Mosberg represented Katie Holmes in her divorce from Tom Cruise this month.

Both lawyers are partners at Aronson Mayefsky & Sloan. Mr. Mayefsky is a named member of Ten Leaders of Matrimonial & Divorce Law of New York City, and Mr. Mosberg is a named member of Ten Leaders of Matrimonial & Divorce Law of New York City, Age 45 & Under. Three other partners at the firm are named members of Ten Leaders NY City groups as well.

Ten Leaders divorce lawyers commonly handle the highest profile and highest stakes divorce cases in the nation. In 2010 TL member Thomas Sasser of Palm Beach represented Elin Nordegren in her divorce from Tiger Woods.

The split of Holmes and Cruise, the highest paid actor in Hollywood in 2011, was remarkable primarily because of the speed and discreet handling of the case, which settled in about two weeks.

TL Member Skippy Weinstein Advances Novel Legal Theory in Texting Case

RESTON, VA, May 29 (TLC News) — Morristown, N.J., trial lawyer Skippy Weinstein, inducted in 2003 into The Ten Leaders of Civil Trial Law of Northern New Jersey, this month drew headlines for advancing the novel position that a person texting a driver faced liability when the driver crashed and injured others.

A New Jersey judge Friday dismissed the claim against the texter, but not before Weinstein gained some acclaim for his novel legal reasoning, and for highlighting the dangers of receiving and sending cell-phone texts while driving.

Weinstein, representing a Morris County couple who sustained devastating injuries in a 2009 car collision with a young driver, issued a statement Friday: “Even though the case … has been dismissed, they are comforted by the thought that by bringing the case, it has accomplished the goal of making people think before they text, whether while driving or to someone who is driving. Perhaps it may prevent another tragic accident from occurring.”

According to MSNBC, Morris County Superior Court Judge David Rand said the sender of the text, Shannon Colonna, had no way to know when the driver, Kyle Best, would read the text, and therefore had no responsibility for a horrific 2009 accident in which Best was found at fault.  Weinstein’s clients, David and Linda Kubert, who were on a motorcyle struck by Best, suffered devastating injuries in the crash; David Kubert had his left leg amputated.

The claim against the driver, Kyle Best, is pending.

It’s probably a good thing Weinstein’s novel “aiding and abetting” claim never got to a jury, if the 49 reader comments are any indication. Most of the reader comments on concluded that the judge exercised “common sense” by dismissing the claim against the texter.

A sampling: “A judge with common sense advocating personal responsibility? Wow. I would like to suggest the Supreme Court for him.” Bernadette Royce, New York, NY.

“Nice to see common sense win out once in a while. If this case had gone on, the door would be open to all kinds of lawsuits for any kind of ‘distractions’.” – Mark DiGiacomo, Dryden, NY.

Personal Injury Lawyer Wins Major Virginia Tech Verdict

BLACKSBURG, VA, Mar. 15 (TLC News) – A jury ruled in favor of two families who lost loved-ones in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, awarding $4 million to each. Trial lawyer Robert Hall of Reston, VA, and in 2005 named a member of the Ten Leaders of Personal Injury Law of Northern Virginia, was lead counsel to the plaintiffs.

The families of the victims, Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde, had declined to settle with the university, as did most of the other victims’ families.

The jury determined that Virginia Tech was negligent after concluding that the university should have notified the student body following the discovery of two students who had been shot to death in a dormitory room on the morning of April 16, 2007. The larger shooting event — in which a mentally ill man shot and killed 30 more people — took place in another campus building a short time later.

The jury determined the families each deserved $4 million, but the award is likely to be reduced. State law requires such awards be capped at $100,000. The state attorney general’s office said it will appeal.

Dr. Keith Jarrett Named Independent Advisor to Newbridge Media LLC

RESTON, VA, Feb. 21 (TLC News) — Dr. Keith Jarrett has been named an independent advisor to Newbridge Media, parent company of The Ten Leaders Cooperative.

Dr. Jarrett is a media executive, longtime private-equity investor and nationally recognized instructor on entrepreneurship. From 1986 to 2001, he was a founding member and a former unit chief executive of Thomson Financial, the global financial information and technology solutions firm that later acquired Reuters Group Holdings.

Prior to launching his career as a leader and manager of media firms, Dr. Jarrett served as a Captain in the U.S. Army and graduated with honors from the United States Military Academy at West Point. He earned an M.B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, and later a Ph.D. in Financial Economics from Harvard Business School. He also worked as a research associate at Harvard Business School and as a Professor at Simmons College Graduate Management Program.

Today he teaches Financial Entrepreneurship at the Carolina Entrepreneurial Initiative at the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Ten Leaders Cooperative Marks Tenth Year

RESTON, VA/FORT LEE, NJ (TLC News) — The Ten Leaders Cooperative, the nation’s original promotional cooperative for experienced professionals, celebrates its tenth anniversary next month, Director Stephen E. Clark announced.

“We knew back in 2002 we’d created an important platform for our members,” said Clark this week, “but the evolution of the marketplace — principally the growth of online search — really defined our role and spurred our growth.”

Clark, a former newspaper publisher and Wall Street financial writer, founded The Cooperative in February 2002. He added that “our members are the reason we’ve been successful.”

The first group, The Ten Leaders of Matrimonial & Divorce Law of Northern New Jersey, was researched in the Spring and Summer 2002 and announced in The New York Times in September of that year. Since then hundreds of groups in the law, medicine and finance have been researched and developed, and more than 800 of the cooperative’s 5,000 inducted members have chosen active membership.

Active membership, proceeds of which sustain and grow the cooperative, involves the development of Ten Leaders materials, including a Ten Leaders profile, which are distributed in print and online for as long the professional practices and remains in good standing in his or her profession.  Ten Leaders profiles are widely regarded as by far the highest quality personal online presentation of an experienced professional today.

Ongoing cooperative advertising campaigns of members and groups of members regularly appear in major metro publications, such as New York Magazine, Washingtonian and Philadelphia Magazine. Online campaigns on Facebook, Google AdWords and major news sites are regularly undertaken for active members as well.

The Ten Leaders Cooperative has profiled experienced professionals throughout the US, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Pittsburgh, New York, Boston, Washington and Atlanta.  Their profiles can be found at, and related sites, including such domains as and

The Ten Leaders Cooperative has been recognized as one of the most authoritative and cost-effective marketing solutions for qualifying professionals since the dawn of the digital age.

The Ten Leaders Cooperative is a unit of Newbridge Media LLC, which separately operates Digital Press International, an independent news service whose feature articles are distributed online. Both units are based at the American Press Institute Building, Reston, VA.

For more information about the Cooperative contact Kristin Kahl, 703-391-6833.


Health Care Attorney Keith Roberts Joins Brach Eichler

ROSELAND, NJ, Dec. 5 (TLC) — Attorney Keith J. Roberts, since 2006 a member of the Ten Leaders of Health Care Law of New Jersey, has joined the law firm of Brach Eichler L.L.C., based in Roseland.

Roberts, 43, is a longtime health care lawyer with deep roots to the New Jersey health care community, particularly independent practices and physicians.  He joins Brach Eichler  as a member of its health care practice, focusing on insurance litigation and arbitration matters.

Roberts built an early reputation as a successful litigator in Personal Injury Protection car-accident claims against insurance companies. According to his Ten Leaders profile, Roberts “brought a rare zeal to a field that many attorneys regarded as unimportant. In fact, in the late 1990s Roberts’ cases alone represented nearly 5% of all of New Jersey’s 20,000 so-called “PIP Arb” cases – an eye-popping share for a single attorney. That record earned the respect of many of the region’s physicians, whose payments had been held up by denials of insurance claims.”

Brach Eichler has nearly 60 lawyers, many focusing on commercial litigation and health-care matters.

“Early Stage Research” Another Warning for Magazine Industry

RESTON, VA Oct. 14 (TLC News) — Magazines in recent years have seen circulation and advertising declines, and, though not nearly as severe as newspapers, a slow, tough transition to the digital age.

Now an utterly innocent online video, beginning to go viral, may have one of those defining impacts on perceptions:

Magazine advertising still has its place, largely because digital advertising – with the notable exception of search – still doesn’t generate the consumer responsiveness that print advertising did for decades.