How to start your law student blog today (3 battle-tested templates for a post)

The thought of hitting “publish” for the first time might feel intimidating.

I bet you’ll be most confident if you start off with a structured approach.  This post includes 3 templates that’ll ensure your work is useful and interesting for readers. 

Executed well, you might discover that your writing is a unique source of opportunities.

Why start a law student blog 

Personally, I started blogging because I wanted to think, talk about, and perhaps get a job working on problems that weren’t emphasized in my first-year courses.    

When I first started publishing it wasn’t entirely clear it would be anything but a fun side project to help me keep perspective during 1L.  That changed when a litigator who was involved in the famous Tam case (it ended up in the Supreme Court) shared my post on Twitter and drove a couple hundred views.  I was sitting in Property when I realized what happened, and my heartbeat picked up a bit.

I started to think that maybe my project had legs, and wondered who else might want to read.

Long story short, quite a few posts, missed classes, plane rides, and coffee meetings later, I ended up as one the few students at my law school who had a paid internship for 1L summer (I worked at Elevate Services). 

It was sort of fascinating to watch other students conduct a job search.  Their process seemed to mainly consist of checking the job boards, sending out resumes, and dressing up in a suit and tie to go to multiple rounds of formal interviews.  Mine consisted of emailing the top people at interesting employers a link to something I’d written (or introducing myself to them at industry events) then setting up coffee or Skype meetings.  After those, an interview felt like a mere formality.  

I should say that the second approach only works if you know what opportunities you’re looking for and can communicate why you’re a good candidate.  Your writing should set you up to do both.   

The Most Common Objection

“None of my classmates are doing this”

  • I've noticed that many lawyer types prefer not to start doing something that’s not already prevalent.  
  • This mentality is exactly what makes publishing a good opportunity.  Few will take any action, meaning it’s relatively easy to stand out if you do.

Templates:  What to write about in your first post

We’ve set the table, so now let’s talk about your first post.  Here are three tried and true templates you should use.  I would recommend just loosely modelling one of the posts I’ve written, because your writing will be most valuable when your focus is articulating your unique perspective.  (You have one!)

“Asking a Big Question”

  • Style:  Opinionated, but backed up by a bit of data.
  • Should communicate: “There’s this thing that seems like a big deal and I can’t stop thinking about it.  Here is what I know so far, what I predict will come of it, and some ideas for what to do next.”
  • Topics that work: your mileage will vary, but it seems like a good bet to draw on your previous work experience or study.  Mine was technology investing and economics. 
  • As an example, I asked myself: “If technological disruption changes the legal service provider ecosystem, what effect could that have on law grads' job prospects?”  I tried to answer this question in my first-ever post, “What will happen to legal service providers?”

 “Field Report”

  • Style:  As a journalist might write.
  • Should communicate: “I ventured beyond the classroom and ended up learning something.”
  • Topics that work:  Recap of a conference, event, what you learned from a job, or a discussion with a professor.
  • As an example, see my post on LegalTech NY.  Or you might do a pregame report, like I did with "14 Interesting Speakers at FutureLaw"

    “Show and Tell”

    • Style:  Detailed, technical, well-supported.
    • Should communicate: “I’ve been studying this field closely, and have distilled my learning so far, but this is just the beginning.”
    • These do not purport to be exhaustive.  They are simply meant to declare serious interest in the topic, your readiness to engage with people in the field and be coached.
    • As an example, read my post “A legal innovator’s guide to modern corporate legal departments.”

    How to publish 

    I’ve used Posthaven for quite some time and highly recommend it.  Here’s the signup link.  Because I use Twitter to follow/tweet at interesting people, my Twitter biography links to my Posthaven.  Alternately, you might consider publishing on Medium

    I look forward to being your first reader!

    **

    Thanks to Professor Henderson of Indiana School of Law who inspired this post.