So, guess who won the Wall Street Journal Law Blog’s Lawyer of the Year contest? No, it wasn’t Alberto Gonzales (the ABA’s first choice , until it changed its mind, or Clarence Thomas or even the overly litigious Roy Pearson who spawned dozens of bad puns about lawyers suing the pants off businesses. Nope. As I posted here, a pseudonymous second year law student who goes by “Loyola 2L” took the prize, for his constant commentary that spotlighted the poor job prospects for graduates from lower tier law schools.
Here’s why you should care about Loyola 2L’s victory: because it shows the power of commenting at a highly trafficked website. And while blogs like Above the Law or WSJ Law Blog, with their immature and often frivolous remarks may not be appropriate for practicing lawyers, these blogs are far from the only game in town. For example, the WSJ also has blogs on health care issues or Business Technology. Each post lists commenters in the side bar, so if you post under your real name, you’ll get some mention right on the web page itself. Plus, when readers email story links to others, recipients will view your comments as well. Most other major news outlets also have an unmoderated comment section, where you can post on a story.
Posting comments at popular blogs can give your recognition beyond the actual blog site. Your comments will show up in search engines and the reporters who’ve authored the posts will come to regard you as an expert for future stories.
Here are some quick tips on writing comments that will generate visibility:
- Offer a valuable insight about the subject of the article or blog post. Don’t simply write “great article.” Instead, identify an issue that the post may have overlooked or offer constructive criticism.
- Put your blog and website in your signature line or at the end of the post, but don’t force people to visit by directing them to a link saying “see my comments at my site.” If your post impressed people sufficiently, they’ll come to your site on their own.
- Follow up on comments. If other commenters have addressed your comments, go back and add a follow up to reinforce your presence.
- Comment regularly. Bloggers and journalists love getting feedback in comments, and they’ll notice and reward those who offer substance to the conversations.
For other ideas (not related to comments) that will help you build your presence online, check out this free e-book entitled SEO for Bloggers and also Bob Ambrogi’s Legal Technology column on new websites like JD Supra and Docstoc where you can show what you know by uploading samples of pleadings, briefs and forms.