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Five Things Lawyers and Bloggers Can Learn from Scott Greenfield

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I know that there’s nothing more that my colleague, co-defendant and  blogger-in-abeyance  Scott Greenfield would have hated than becoming the metaphorical subject of a formulaic blog post along the lines of Top Lessons Lawyers Can Learn from Zappos, food bloggers,  the Muppets or some other seemingly irrelevant analogy.  Well, sorry my friend but now that you’re no longer around to defend yourself, that’s what you get! And with that, here’s [at least] five things I learned from Scott Greenfield.

Excellence Matters, Persistence Counts

When Simple Justice came on the scene five years ago, blogging was already in full swing making it harder to capture a slot in an RSS feed. But Scott’s blog gained traction partly because of its excellence – the writing, the hard-hitting opinions, the analysis – and also because of Scott’s persistence. Whether folks listened or not, he put up his four posts every day. Whether bloggers reciprocated or not, he reached out, he linked to others, he engaged and he provoked.  Scott didn’t just show up every day, he showed us all up every day.  The bottom line is that even in a field saturated with lawyers and bloggers, there’s always room for someone good – though it might take some effort to make the case.

Doggedness Over Passion

Passion is a wonderful trait, always in fashion, so much so that it’s become cliche, almost a caricature of itself. Scott was passionate about injustice and ways that we could improve the profession.  But he had staying power because he was dogged — which isn’t exactly the sexiest trait.  Still, solos and bloggers who focus too much on the flash and glitz and the superficial will burn out quickly; it’s the dogged who survive — and thrive —  in the long haul.

Be A Person, Not A Brand

Many of the rules of blogging – and law practice – advise that you play to your audience (write what they want to hear or sell to your target. It’s not bad advice, overall, but sticking to the rule without deviation reduces either a blog or a law firm to a one-dimensional brand rather than a living, breathing thing full of complexity. Yes, Scott held the “brand” of curmudgeonly criminal defense lawyer.  But he also made First Amendment precedent, read Seth Godin , shared beers with marketers like Kevin O’Keefe and loved his family. Marketers would have cringed that these interests sent mixed messages for “Brand Curmudgeon” but it’s these little quirks that made Scott  human; so much more than a brand and far more interesting.

Be Gracious

Even after Scott achieved blogging success, he was gracious. Always. He gave shout outs to newbies and lavished praise on those he admired or  deserved it. In blogging and law practice, we too should always remember to thank those who came before us and lend a hand (free of charge) to those who need a leg up.

Leave the world a better place

The blogosphere was already in full swing when Scott came on the scene, and it will survive after his departure. But as others have noted, during that time, Scott made us all better bloggers and thinkers.  By  so doing, he leaves the blogosphere a better place than when he arrived.  Which is really the best legacy any of us can hope for no matter what we do.

  • I have often found myself considering how Scott would react to a post I am working on. He probably doesn’t think it has helped, but I do.

  • Dan Hull

    Well done, Carolyn.  Best tribute yet. 

  • Carolyn Elefant

    That is the Greenfield-effect. Still inspiring.

  • Carolyn Elefant

    I thought it was very classy of you to post about Scott’s departure at Lawyerist though he hasn’t been the biggest fan.  

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