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March 5th, 2009

Wyeth v. Levine (And The Power of Blogging)

The question frequently arises: Is blogging helpful for a lawyer’s business for someone in BigLaw? And this question pops up because General Counsels at Fortune 500 companies won’t exactly hire someone just because they have a blog.

But will being quoted in the paper as an expert put that lawyer’s name in front of a General Counsel? Today — in the wake of the Supreme Court in Wyeth v. Levine upholding the right of a claimant to bring a state court tort action for mislabeled drugs despite FDA policymakers trying to discourage it — we take a peak at whether a blog will get the blogger in front of the media.

Mark Hermmann of Jones Day in Chicago and Jim Beck at Dechert in Philadelphia write the Drug and Device Law Blog, which has been pretty much all pre-emption all the time for the last two years. And the media did, indeed, turn to them for quotes. (Of course, both were already big shots in their field, with Beck having a drug and device law book on the subject, a copy of which sits on my shelf). But let’s take a look:

From Adam Liptak at the New York Times (No Legal Shield in Drug Labeling, Justices Rule):

“This narrows the playing field,” for implied pre-emption arguments, Mark Herrmann, a corporate defense lawyer in Chicago, said of the decision. “This does not eliminate the playing field.”

From Bloomberg news (Wyeth, Drugmakers Lose as Top U.S. Court Allows Suits): “It’s still leaves open some turf for industry, but it narrows the playing field,” said Mark Herrmann, a Chicago product-liability lawyer who represents companies and co-writes a blog on drug and medical-device law.

From American Lawyer (Supreme Court Rules Against FDA Preemption; Let the Plaintiffs Rejoicing Begin!):

“It is a complete slap in the face to both the FDA and the Bush administration’s position on preemption,” said Dechert’s James Beck (one of the bloggers at Drug and Device Law). The decision limits the preemption defense to cases where the FDA has made an “affirmative decision” on use of a particular drug, Beck told us. Dozens of cases that had been formally or informally frozen pending the Wyeth ruling, he said, will now move ahead at full steam.

And if you search their url in Google you will see the links to their blog and posts piling up fast in high profile joints like Above the Law, Volokh, Overlawyered, meaning they have succeeded in spreading to yet more people the fact that they are leaders in their field. You can bet there will be more stories, and more links.

In an article recently Hermmann wrote about the subject (Is blogging worth it?) noted:

[B]logging raises both your personal and your law firm’s public profile. As a result of two years of blogging, I’ve appeared on television shows on CNBC, Bloomberg and C-SPAN. I’ve been interviewed by, and quoted in, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and countless regional papers. I’ve been invited to speak at academic symposia, continuing legal education programs and state Bar conventions. A major academic press has approached me about a book deal.

Blogging surely causes your name to cross the desks of potential clients, and that might cause clients to think of you when they’re retaining counsel.

When blogs are used as a means of direct solicitation (call me, I know what I’m doing!) they fail badly. When blogs are used to demonstrate knowledge by discussing an interesting issue, they succeed.

As they teach you in trial lawyer school, “show, don’t tell.” And blogging isn’t any different.

Updated: Beck/Herrmann are rounding up the coverage that they have received earned: Press Coverage of Levine

Previously at my site:

4 thoughts on “Wyeth v. Levine (And The Power of Blogging)

  1. What some journalists — especially the younger ones — do to get a quote on a story is to do a search on something like these:

    Omaha patent attorney
    Chicago civil rights attorney
    Miami immigration attorney

    They start calling attorneys (or, with different search terms, contractors, accountants, or realtors) in the order of the search results.

    You might be a very well known product-liability attorney in Chicago, but that means nothing at all to the young journalist.

    What matters is the order of the search results.
    # posted by Blogger mister.thorne : March 05, 2009 10:46 AM

  2. In these hard times, lawyers and all of us for that matter, have to find alternative marketing or advertising strategy as cost cutting measures. Blogging is one way of informing people of whatever it is that you want to share with them.
    # posted by Anonymous Postergal : March 05, 2009 7:07 PM

  3. Personally, I think that if someone blogs mainly for advertising or marketing reasons, it becomes rather evident in the writing.

    You have to actually enjoy it. Maybe, if you do it well, there might be some indirect marketing benefit. But if it isn’t fun, it will show.
    # posted by Blogger Eric Turkewitz : March 05, 2009 8:38 PM

  4. Hi Eric- I agree with you totally. The attorneys who are providing educational content on their blogs are looked upon as the ‘expert’ without ever having to say “Come to me because I’m an expert.”

    Your show, don’t tell comment is very true. Not only journalists search for lawyers online, but consumers looking for an attorney.

    If you are a consumer looking for an attorney to answer your legal questions, do you want a slick salesman trying to pitch you into coming to his firm, or do you want someone who can explain how the legal process works?

    Educational and informative blogs win the day in my book.
    # posted by Blogger Gerry Oginski : March 06, 2009 12:20 PM