Blogging was where we began, and how we built our company so we have preserved this archive to show how our thinking developed over a decade of developing the use of social technology inside organisations

Blogging on the firm’s public website

by Lars Plougmann
People shaking hands, impressive office buildings, smiling people looking at a computer screen, water in motion, shiny buildings in Canary Wharf… We have become so used to stock photography on law firm websites that we hardly notice it anymore.
If the photos don’t relate to your business they don’t provide any insight to who you are. As a law firm, business is about words, not photos. That is part of the thinking behind Matthew Arnold & Baldwin’s website. The 200 people law firm with offices in London, Watford and Milton Keynes is happy to let their lawyers share their thoughts on the firm’s public website: The lawyers are blogging.
mab tag cloud.jpg
Words are used in a decorative and informative way on the home page and on sector and services pages. The ‘word clouds’ provide a quick overview of what the firm is about. Each phrase is a link to related descriptions, blog posts and online services. E.g. have you made up a will yet?
Matthew Arnold & Baldwin recognise that it is in their interest to give their views the widest reach. Almost everything on the site is also a feed that you can subscribe to. There is a main feed (subscribe via RSS) with everything that gets published on the site. But it is much more likely that clients are interested in a specific topic and there are plenty of ways to accommodate this demand. Subscriptions are offered for each lawyer, each sector and service as well as each tag; site visitors can even build their own feed via search results that are offered as a feed so as not to miss future matches. The more popular feeds are offered as email subscriptions as well as RSS to reflect the fact that not everybody uses a feed reader.
This approach makes a lot of sense. It may only take a few visits for somebody to set up the feeds they want from the site before they don’t need to visit the site again. The firm may see fewer visits to their website as a result but because there is no advertising on the site, subscriptions are just as valuable as site visits – maybe more because they cater to the subscribers’ preference for how they want to receive their legal insights.
The site was built using an open source blogging platform. A minimum of training is needed to learn the four steps required to prepare a blog post (title, main article, related sectors and services, tags). The same piece of software acts as a content management system so that the firm can maintain a hierarchy of pages with relevant information without having to call on Headshift when new stuff is published or there are changes to the existing content. And yes, should the site editor want, those pages can contain images as well.
Some views from Matthew Arnold & Baldwin lawyers that might be of interest to readers of the Headshift blog:

2 Responses to Blogging on the firm’s public website

  1. By Kerrie Anderson on January 29, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Hi Lars,
    That’s interesting to read, and a very nice website. It’s clear, informative and dynamic.
    I am intrigued that there are examples of partners commenting on other partner’s feeds. Do you know if there is blogging internally as well, e.g. on the firm’s intranet? If there is, does it work as a discussion forum in which points of law are analysed? That could be great know how if captured.

  2. By Lars Plougmann on February 22, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Hi Kerrie,
    As part of the firm embracing social business design principles on their public website Matthew Arnold & Baldwin are also investing in an intranet adhering to the same principles (based on a Jive platform, the new intranet allows for groups, blogging, microblogging, discussions, social bookmarks etc.). I am sure that, in time, valuable lessons from the internal use of social tools will be shared openly.