I’ve been blogging for nearly a decade and during that time, I’ve expressed opinions about the legal profession, legal products and other lawyers’ practices. Ten years is a long time though, and sometimes, it’s not unusual to change one’s mind in light of new circumstances or experiences.
So why are we so embarrassed about changing course? We see it in the political world all the time, where candidates claim that they haven’t changed course, but rather, that their earlier policy has been misunderstood or mischaracterized. Bloggers do the same thing; maybe coming out early raving about how great a product is only to never mention it again when it turns out to have been a scam. Or endorsing one position and then changing course — either because of new circumstances or to gain approval from others.
In most instances, I’ve been remarkably – almost shockingly consistent through the years. I’ve advocated for starting a law firm – either by choice or as a last resort to rescue a floundering career – way before solo practice became the new black. Back in the day when hourly rates were skyrocketing and no one ever thought that clients would simply walk away, I contended that competing on price isn’t always such a bad thing. And even though I co-authored a book on social media, both Niki Black and I always emphasized that social media is simply a tool to serve larger goals and not an end in itself.
Of course, I’ve also taken positions where I’ve been dead wrong, and said so. I dissed the importance of handwritten thank you notes but reconsidered – and today, thank you notes are one of my favorite post- conference actions. I criticized an associate for burning bridges with a tell-all email, but backtracked after learning more about her motivation but more importantly, understanding that the Internet Age provides second chances that were never available back in my day. Of course, I don’t always shift course; I’ve stood my ground on activities that I’ve been part of like Ignite even though others criticized and mocked the event. Yet in all cases, I’ve either made clear that I changed my position or linked to the opposition so that the full record was documented it for posterity in the blog posts.
Many of us legal bloggers don’t write for huge audiences, and there’s so much turn over that today’s readers may not recall yesterday’s opinions. But many of our posts linger in search engines for many years after we may have changed our views – or taken an approach that we boasted about but that hasn’t really worked out very well. Don’t we owe it to our readers and the blogosphere to make retractions in the interest of accuracy? But more importantly, what’s wrong with showing that you were wrong, you made a mistake and moved on? Isn’t that the kind of message we want to send to new lawyers?