Hammonds Solicitors is an international law firm and I have been made aware of a press release that the firm has circulated to promote its blogging legal services.
It will quote it in its entirety and I give some observations in bold below.
"Hammonds warns businesses about jumping onto the blog bandwagon.
Hammonds, the international law firm, is warning business not to rush into setting up a blog to use as an additional advertising stream without checking out the legal pitfalls first.
Blogs are rapidly becoming the latest Internet craze with Google completing its takeover of one of the most popular blog sites, YouTube for $1.65 billion.
Meanwhile a whole host of businesses and individuals are clamouring to cash in on the blog sites, which currently provide their users with free access to promote themselves and their chosen interests.
To date the phenomena has produced a plethora of success stories and provided its worth by helping to launch a number of new pop acts such as Lily Allen and the Arctic Monkeys and more recently Sandi Thom who used to play gigs live from her bedroom every night before becoming a
With bloggers and blogospheres springing up across the web and David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, giving blogs a seal of approval by setting up his own blog, does it mean they are good for business?
"The internet is still an untamed wilderness" warns Nick Mason, an advertising and marketing specialist at Hammonds "With the rapid boom in blogs it is all too easy to forget that the web is still an environment where reputations are made and ruined and fortunes won and lost."
Mason continues, "With blogs there are a myriad of problems and employers have already felt the untamed influence of the blogging community. Just ask Waterstone's, Google or Delta Airlines, how a straightforward employee disciplinary issue turned into a wave of bad publicity, threats and general invective against the corporate being. They won't be the last employers to struggle with the repercussions of this revolution in personal publishing."
Some adventurous brands see the blogging communities as an opportunity to directly connect with consumers; to receive live feedback and to learn what their consumers want - and don't want.
"The risks are self-evident" says Mason "in fact, without even entering the online Wild West, many well-known brands such as Mcdonalds, Nike and Volkswagen have already felt the heat of the midday sun. How can the latter day sheriff (read commercial lawyer) protect those in danger of being surrounded and ruined by the 'blogmob'?"
"In the future it seems that lawyers will need to be imaginative in seeking to protect the interests of brands and clients in the blogosphere.
The legal issues are not new, but the options available to seekredress are limited and uncertain in their effectiveness. However, there are a number of dos and don'ts which can help minimise the risks."
"Lawyers and their clients must act carefully and skilfully when contemplating legal action against blogsites and their contributors.And they must be aware of their own obligations and weaknesses."
"Opportunities undoubtedly await those brands bold enough to drive their wagons into the wilderness of the blogging communities; but it might be wise to consider the legal issues involved and how these will apply to this emerging medium, and then let the local sheriff know where you are going" concludes Mason.
1 The law firm clearly has some good background knowledge about blogs which is quite commendable since about 90% of law firms in my view have no understanding of blogs.
2 On the critical side, the press release does take a rather negative view about blogs and has an almost trivial discussion about the issue. (e.g. reference to a blog sheriff). Fundamentally you can blog in a relatively conservative way and you do not have to be subject to the horror stories which are still very few.
3 All lawyers(myself included) can fall into this trap of focusing on the risks of blogging and the dangers of blogging. One of my articles which was published in a legal journal was criticised by someone for being too negative. Do not neglect the benefits and do not think you have to be bold to set up a blog. These benefits include an opportunity to collaborate with others anywhere in the world, increased search engine ranking, the fact that you can demonstrate expertise in your field and the fact that blogging complements traditional PR.
4 Hammonds are right that lawyers are going to have to be more imaginative when considering legal action against blog sites. Blogs are changing litigation.