Want to Stand Out from the Pack? Start a Blog!

The Legal Side of BloggingWant to stand out in a crowded job market? Start a blog!

Today we’re thrilled to have Ruth Carter, author of The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed, here to talk about the benefits of blogging for law students, along with some tips for getting started.

Take it away, Ruth!

Why Blog as a Law Student?

A recent study showed that over 40,000 law school graduates entered the job market in 2011 but only 55% had a full-time job that requires a law degree at 9 months after graduation.

Needless to say, it’s a tough market out there for people who want to be lawyers so it’s important to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

Most people are not that perfect law student who is in the 10% of their class, editor of the law journal, and involved in every extracurricular in school. Another way to differentiate yourself from the crowd is to have a blog.

I started my personal blog The Undeniable Ruth in 2010 when I was a 2L. It was one of the best things I did during law school.

It’s a great way to show your interest and expertise in an area of law and it shows your personality. When your classmates go to interviews, they can tell the interviewer what they’re interested in and who they are, but you will be able to demonstrate it by referencing past blog posts. And everything on your blog doesn’t have to be about law. I had one interviewer tell me he connected to one of my posts about childhood obesity.

You can leverage your blog to get other gigs. If you’re a consistent and active blogger, you will be more likely to get other guest blogging and paid blogging gigs. If you subscribe to Help A Reporter Out (and every law student should), you can use your blog to boost your credibility as a source for other news outlets.

How to Get Started Blogging

It’s relatively inexpensive to buy a domain and webhosting, or you can blog for free using Blogger, BlogSpot, or WordPress. Be sure your blog has a disclaimer that states that you only provide information and not legal advice on your site.

I’ve been blogging since 2009 and my mantra is “Comfort the afflicted and afflict comfortable.”

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned about effectively using a blog as part of a legal career.

  1. Put yourself on a publication schedule and stick to it. I recommend releasing a new post weekly, but biweekly is ok too.
  2. Don’t be afraid of controversial subjects or people who leave strongly worded comments on your blog. Make sure you are accurate and respectful in your word choices. This will make you appear professional and you’ll avoid a claim for defamation.
  3. Every post needs an image. Make sure you own every image you use, get explicit permission from the copyright owner, or use images that are available under Creative Commons.
  4. Register the copyright in your blog every 3 months and decide in advance how you want to respond when someone steals your content (cease and desist letter, DMCA takedown notice, or lawsuit).
  5. Educate yourself on the National Labor Relations Act so you know what types of posts might result in you being fired from a job or internship.

If you want to learn more about how you can push the envelope with your blog without crossing the line and to understand your rights as a blogger, please check out my book The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed which is available in the Kindle Store.

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Thanks, Ruth!

Ruth Carter is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. Her virtual practice, The Carter Law Firm, focuses on intellectual property, social media, First Amendment and flash mob law. Recently named an ABA Journal 2012 Legal Rebel, Ruth is a 2011 graduate of Arizona State University College of Law and known for her daring antics and outgoing personality. She is co-founder of Improv Arizona, author of the new ebook The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to Get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed, and blogs weekly at UndeniableRuth.com

Want to learn more about Ruth’s path? Check out our earlier interview about starting a solo practice straight out of law school: Can You Start Your Own Firm Right Out of Law School? Meet Someone Who’s Doing It.

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