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Blogging with Shakespeare: ‘Let’s kill all the lawyers’

By Sander Biehn | May 23, 2014

Legal disclaimer: This ‘ad hominem’ attack on the legal profession is nothing personal. Lawyers do a fine job protecting us from one another and working out problems when we cannot work them out over the phone.   Additionally, I actually come from a long line of lawyers. My father was a lawyer, as was my grandfather. Shoot, I am even married to a lawyer. I can say, truthfully, that I love lawyers!

But mixing blogging with lawyers really makes no sense at all.

First, I have read several blogs written by lawyers and none of them have been memorable for their interesting content. I have not had a reason to share or think back on any of them.  I don’t think the problem is that lawyers have nothing interesting to say, I think the problem is how they say it.  Legal writing is a course generally taught to first  year law students. While the manner, cadence and outline of a legal brief is at first difficult to grasp, it is like a hidden language within a language. Once mastered, these budding minds want to apply it to all formal written communication. The result? A very dull read for the rest of us. Complicated ideas take precedence over examples and admitting that the author is ‘not quite sure’ is strictly forbidden.

Next, lawyers are paid to be cautious.  Bloggers are  paid to have opinions. Certainly, some degree of control with regard to defamation or speaking too openly about private matters is a good thing. However, we do not need lawyers to use common sense. What is at stake is watering down a blog post so it lacks an opinion. I have read too many posts on B2B corporate sites that have this problem. The posts lack soul because the author lacks a definite opinion on anything. Instead of staking a claim and  asking for feedback from the readership, these blogs read like a brochures. They don’t offer an opinion at all. They waste space in an already very crowded market of ideas. Consequently, they are a waste of resource and serve only to prove to enterprises that blogs are not a good use of marketing dollars.

Finally, law and social media need to be distanced. The whole idea of social media is to provide a way for people to share ideas, opinions and questions. It is basically the water cooler and coffee shop for the world. It is a global hang-out. Law and legal protection is vitally important in core business and even  marketing and advertising, but social selling on social media is really neither.  Social selling is more akin to a casual conversation where ideas are exchanged and debated. In order to keep the debates strong and foster innovation for markets and entire industries, social media shouldn’t be over encumbered by legal restraint.

While Shakespeare may have gone too far with his famous proclamation uttered by the rapscallion Dick the Butcher in Henry  VI, the idea is well intentioned. Like Dick, I believe that a utopia for the exchange of ideas is a world not cluttered with too many lawyers.

Ok, I know this is going to cause a stir. Please let me know if you think I am off base. What experiences have you had in this area? Is your company’s blog run by lawyers or are you using the soft touch?


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