I'm a small town trial lawyer by trade.
Over seventeen years, I made it to county courthouses in cities the likes of Viroqua, Prairie du Chien, Sparta, Black River Falls, Whitehall and Mauston. Occasionally I made it to courts in Madison, Minneapolis and Chicago.
I don't believe I was ever invited to speak to a legal industry group. And only once was I asked to pen an article for publication.
Not in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned being invited to speak in Europe to an international audience of lawyers, technology executives and in-house counsel.
Two weeks ago that's where I was. In Amsterdam at the Lexpo legal innovation and technology conference presenting on the power of blogging and social media.
Out of the blue last fall I received a call asking if I could speak and what my fee and expenses would be. Amazing, "Could you come to Amsterdam, some place you've never been, we'll pay your way and put you up. You really should bring your wif e as you're already being paid to come to Europe."
Hey, maybe Rob Ameerun, Lexpo's founder and organizer didn't say exactly that, but it sounded just like that to me. It was certainly something that was going to make me a star at home - we hadn't been to Europe since we backpacked and hitchhiked across the Continent on $10 a day thirty-five years ago.
The reason I was in Europe was simple. I blog.
Rob and the person who recommended me to Rob knew of me and my passion for blogging and social media, the subject of my talk, because of my blog p ublication, Real Lawyers Have Blogs.
Wilder to me still was that, as a result of blogging and social media, people from any number of countries at the conference knew who I was. Invites to speak in London and Lithuania followed.
I'm not alone when it comes to American blogging lawyers being invited to Europe this spring.
Veteran law bloggers, Jordan Furlong and Ron Friedmann, joined me as speakers at Lexpo.
Staci Riordan, long https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tx5hfLp3Vqc time fashion law blogger and chair of Nixon Peabody's fashion practice, is featured today in the International Trademark Association (INTA) Daily News for her presentation in Barcelona yesterday on advocating for a brand on social media, as a social media influencer yourself.
From Barcelona Staci is on her way to Tokyo and Seoul to speak. As she tags her Facebook posts, a bit in jest, "#lifeoffashionlawyer."
Staci was not alone in Barcelona. From long time China law blogger, Dan Harris over the weekend:
If you are going to be in Barcelona during INTA 2017, please let us know via an email to email@example.com and we will do our utmost to have one of our lawyers meet up with you there. Four of our lawyers will be there throughout the conference, including two of our lawyers from our Barcelona office, Nadja Vietz and Joaquin Cabrera. In addition to our home-grown talent, Mike Atkins (world famous for his Seattle Trademark Lawyer Blog) and Alison Malsbury (who spoke at INTA last year on cannabis trademarks) will also be attending.
All of the U.S. lawyers Dan mentioned got to Barcelona as a result of blogging. Heck, in addition to a successful international practice, Dan's firm has built perhaps the leading cannabis practice in the country on the back of the Canna Law Blog.
Crazier yet, Dan's letting 10,000 conference attendees from 140 countries know to look up he and his c olleagues while in Barcelona -- via one of the most widely read international legal publications, his firm's China Law Blog.
Then this morning I see the dean of law blogging with his LawSites blog, Bob Ambrogi share on Facebook a picture of his home for the next week. A Danube http://lawyers.findlaw.com/ River https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tx5hfLp3Vqc cruiseboat leaving from Munich.
Bob's known internationally for his expertise on the Internet and legal technology, in large part because of his blogging. As a result he's going to be teaching at a bar association conference cruising the Danube.
I don't share these stories to impress you, but to impress upon you the opportunity that blogging presents you as a lawyer.
Of course you need to have some expertise, blogging is not "fake it till you make it." But blogging puts you on the map, builds a name for you and makes you an attractive speaker for conference organizers to invite. Stars attract an audience.
Know that the lawyers here have built their names with a blog. They're not writing articles published in a section of a law firm website claiming to be a blog.
These lawyers and I sought to go out and connect and engage on the Internet with an independent publication, our blogs, and the use of ancillary social media, including Twitter and Facebook. We built a brand for a blog publication and ourselves.
Sure, prominent lawyers who do not blog will be invited to speak at conferences around the world just as they always have. But small town kids like me wouldn't get there without blogging.