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How 3 lawyers used blogging for professional success and the opportunity offered by engagement exercises
 
Intention of this article
The diploma course has an engagement exercise at the end of each module which invites you to apply the learning from that module in the context of your life.

In suitable cases we will be happy to share your learning on relevant blogs whose readers may benefit from it. This is an article showcasing the experience of three lawyers who used blogging as a way to reach out to their audience. If you are a consultant or professional (irrespective of whether you are a lawyer), we believe that this opportunity is available to you through the engagement exercises.

Swaraj Paul Barooah
What is the name of your blog? On which area is it focussed? 
SpicyIP.com. It is focused on Indian IPR and Innovation policy. 
 
Why did you choose that area? 
I was doing some research for Prof Basheer, the founder of the blog, when he invited me to write for the blog. Since I had a fledging interest in IPR, I decided to go ahead and see how I liked it. The fact that it was a popular blog already well recognized and read by the IPR fraternity also appealed to me. Though at first it was a little intimidating to put my thoughts out there to an audience that contained experts in the field, I soon realized that this type of fear could only hold me back. Moreover, with so much information available on the internet, no one really spends time reading a bad post and quickly forgets about them, but they certainly notice and remember the good ones. 

How much / for how long did you write? 
I've been writing since the latter half of 2008 till date, so 7 years so far. A few years ago, I was bumped up to chief editor of the blog. In my 7 years, I've probably written about 300 posts and edited another 150 or so. 
 
Did it help you professionally in any way? 
It's helped me with everything. I've been quoted by newspapers across the world, by academic journals, by magazines. I've been asked to write in other blogs, journals and magazines based on my blog posts. I've been called to IP conferences to speak and be on panels, all as "Chief Editor of SpicyIP". Certain SpicyIP blog posts have even been used in IP courses at Harvard, Yale and Berkeley, amongst the places that we've heard of. A good example of how powerful good reputable blogging can be is: earlier this year, I wrote about a case regarding a Hepatitis C drug. Within 24 hours of writing that, I had received emails and calls from the World Health Organization, from the Big Pharma company manufacturing that drug, from the Access to Medicines folks, and from about 3-4 journalists. 
 
I haven't ever applied for a job, so I haven't needed to mention SpicyIP, but I have been doing consultancies and oftentimes the client has heard of me because of SpicyIP. Earlier, I had mentioned SpicyIP when I applied for my LLM and JSD degrees at UC Berkeley. Now, because of SpicyIP and the backing from Prof. Basheer, I'm launching my own research organization. 

 
What barriers did you face while writing? How did you overcome them?
Two issues: 
1. Balancing time for posting with other obligations. This comes down to discipline. Making sure your choices reflect your priorities. If anything is high on your priority list, you need to make time for it, not wait for time for it. 
2. Finding the "sweet spot" in terms of writing moods. If I'm writing to fill pages, its bound to be boring. And if I don't feel like writing it, I shouldn't expect anyone to read it. So, first, making sure I completely understand the relevance and implications of an issue, and then actively engaging myself with it. For e.g., there's a difference between thinking "I'm writing about Section 84 of the Patents Act", and thinking "I'm writing about whether an ordinary citizen of the country afflicted with kidney cancer can be expected to pay 2.8 lakhs a month to survive, when there is the ability to produce that drug for Rs 8,800". Getting into the zone where you're able to engage (with your material), empathize (with the affected stakeholders), analyze holistically and then communicate your thoughts is critical to writing effectively.
 
Finding that zone is different for different folks. For me, it usually means finding a place where there is a certain amount of background noise but no jarring foreground noise, not having any interruptions, and having something to munch on. You need to find what works for you. 
It also helps a lot to make writing a habit. Even if for just 15-20 mins a day, and on something you don't want to share with others. Just like everything else, regular practice helps a lot, especially when one doesn't find the exact circumstances that one is ordinarily most comfortable writing in. 
 
How did you take out time for writing blog posts?
As mentioned above, one needs to make time for it. If you don't think its important, don't do it. If you think it’s important, make time for it. 
 
Did you promote and share your writing? Did you learn anything from the process of sharing your work online?
I write about what I'm actually passionate about. So, I share my writing on social media the same way I'd share anything else I found interesting or thought that people should read. Sharing online also helps receive quick critical feedback from people, and when the post is good, it is kind of a positive feedback loop to see your work being appreciated or shared further. While its always nice to see 'likes' from your friends on Facebook, I find that building an active presence on twitter with people engaged in your subject area can help provide terrific substantive feedback on your writing, help it get shared much more widely, and help you connect with other people interested in your subject area. 
 
Was it worth writing a blog? How would your life or professional capability be if you wouldn't have started the blog? Would there be any difference in that and where you are today? 
As mentioned above, for me personally, blogging on SpicyIP has changed everything for me. Of course, this also had a lot to do with being in the right place at the right time and having the right people blogging with me, so I wouldn't put out a blanket statement that anyone who blogs can build a career from it -- but it is possible. 

If I hadn't started blogging, I would've probably been making a 10 year plan to reach where I am today. i.e. starting my own research organization. 
 
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Whether it's through blogging, or through just writing for yourself, I think there's a lot to be gained by writing on a regular basis. Regardless of the topic - serious academia or personal interests - writing about something on a regular basis forces one to convert vague ideas and thoughts one might have over something into concrete tangible form, thus strengthening the parts of the brain which help with analysis and forming connections. I'd strongly recommend dedicating even just 15 mins a day (minimum) to writing, as it can help one a lot. 
 
Puneet Bhasin
On what areas do you write? Why did you choose that area? 
(Was it out of your interest, or possibility of growth potential, lack of expertise, or a personal experience related to that area or a combination of these reasons. Please explain in detail.)
I write articles and posts in the cyber laws domain. When I started practicing in this field in 2011, most people did not know about cyber crimes or E-commerce compliances. The only way to create a practice was to educate people about this field, and this idea was suggested to me by Abhyudaya, the Co-founder of iPleaders. He was very insistent from our first conversation that I should write blogs and connected me to Ramanuj, the Co-founder of iPleaders. I call Ramanuj my friend, philosopher and guide, all rolled into one, and he guided me on the art of blogging and gave me insightful tips on how to write and promote blogs. I had never written a blog before and this was a new experience for me. I used to teach Post Graduate Diploma in Cyber Laws, so writing about this subject came naturally and I loved writing about the intricacies of the law and the leading cases in it. I have not written about any other arena of law, as this is the only field that excites me and all I have to do is sit in front of my laptop, and within hours I have articles ready for publishing because it just flows from my mind and takes the form of an article. It is simply effortless.
 
How much / for how long did you write? 
I have been writing blogs on cyber laws for the past three years now. My articles have been published on the CAclubindia, Lawyersclubindia, iPleaders and Linkedin blogs. I have my own blog too www.indiancyberlawyer.wordpress.com

What is the most rewarding aspect of writing? Does it help you professionally in any way? 

Writing has been extremely professionally rewarding. As advocates we cannot advertise, and in my area of practice, people did not know what cyber laws were; so writing has become a medium for me to reach out to people, educate them and that converts to clients in case they are victims of cyber crimes or run E-commerce portals. I believe that that the articles I have written have helped people know about my work and despite me being extremely young, I have had the opportunity to be a panelist and speaker at National Conferences on Information Technology Laws. I definitely consider this to be a reward of writing and elucidating the law for people to be able to trust your knowledge and authority over the subject.
 
What barriers did you face while writing? How did you overcome them?
When I started writing, I found it difficult to write articles that could appeal to the masses. The article had to be long enough, yet interesting and had to answer the reader's doubts, yet keep the reader coming back to you for more answers. I think I started getting the hang of it with each article I wrote, getting better at writing with each successive blog.

How did you take out time for writing blog posts?
I have a habit of allocating an hour before I leave from office to writing a blog post, and I complete the same at night before sleeping, by dedicating another hour to it. I keep a target of writing atleast 4 blog posts each month, though sometimes I manage to write just 2 because of pressing work commitments.
 
Did you promote and share your writing? Did you learn anything from the process of sharing your work online?
Yes! I did promote and share my work online, and it brought in more clients. My friends knew I practiced in cyber laws, but did not know what cases were encompassed in its domain; and through the articles, they also started referring matters that fall into my domain. Sharing my writing online lead to a large number of professionals following me on LinkedIn and connecting with me. Also, organizers of Information Technology Law events starting getting in touch with me to talk about cyber crimes and E-commerce laws at their events.
 
Was it worth writing a blog? How would your life or professional capability be if you wouldn't have started the blog? Would there be any difference in that and where you are today? 
I would say that starting to blog was one of the major steps I took towards trying to make my space and mark in the field of cyber laws. If I would never have blogged, my practice would have stagnated and I would have been unable to reach out to a large number of people. Today, clients from even remote parts of India get in touch with me when they become victims of cyber crimes. There have been clients from semi-urban areas too whose loss was not large in terms of the financial standards of cities, but each of these cases from diverse backgrounds gave me rich experiences. I have clients from places in India I have never heard of before and they found me through the blogs!

Is there anything else you would like to share?
Lawyers invariably have a knack for writing, and I definitely think that they must put this talent to use and let people know of their professional skills through their blogs. Let their work speak for itself!
 
Jay Sayta, Founder, GLaws.in
 
What is the name of your blog? On which area is it focussed? 
 
A. My blog is http://glaws.in/ It is focused on gambling laws and tracks legal and regulatory developments in the gaming, betting and lottery industry.
 
Why did you choose that area? 
(Was it out of your interest, or possibility of growth potential, lack of expertise, or a personal experience related to that area or a combination of these reasons. Please explain in detail.)
 
A. In 2010, out of personal interest and passion for gaming, I started researching on the subject. Since there was lack of quality information on the subject I decided to start the blog.
 
How much / for how long did you write? 
(No. of years / No. of posts, etc.)
 
A. I have been writing on the subject for around five years now. I still continue to write whenever I get time. I have written over 150 posts on my website as well as certain guest posts on other blogs.
 
Did it help you professionally in any way? 
(Getting an internship / job / getting quoted in a newspaper / being invited to a conference or interview, did you speak about it in job interviews? If so, please describe)
 
A. Definitely it has helped me in my career. Since I have zealously followed the subject, various persons including industry experts, lawyers, policy makers, journalists have appreciated my work and contacted me for help. I have been quoted in Times of India, Financial Times, Mint, Statesman etc. on the subject of gambling laws. I was also invited for a FICCI-ICE gaming conference in London. All this has added value to my resume as my writing has been widely circulated. It has also added value to my resume which has helped me in job interviews and internships etc.
 
What barriers did you face while writing? How did you overcome them?
 
A. It is difficult to find interesting topics which readers will find interesting. For that, one has to be abreast with latest developments through Google alerts, business journals, latest case laws and interactions with stakeholders in the industry.For instance, to find files on some legislations I have filed RTI applications and got relevant information from government departments. I have also tracked ongoing litigation and reported about it. Sometimes, I have just interviewed important people in the industry. 
 
 
How did you take out time for writing blog posts?
 
A. I am interested in reading and researching on the subject. So just while surfing the internet, I find some time to read and write. It need not be every day, maybe couple of hours in a week should be enough to write blog posts.
 
Did you promote and share your writing? Did you learn anything from the process of sharing your work online?
 
A. I shared my posts through social media like Facebook, Twitter etc. I have also created separate pages of my website on social media. Apart from that, once you persistent writing on a subject, it will be on top of Google and other search engine results for particular keywords and hence automatically your site will generate more traffic automatically. 
 
 
Was it worth writing a blog? How would your life or professional capability be if you wouldn't have started the blog? Would there be any difference in that and where you are today? 
 
A. It was definitely worth writing a blog. It helped me gain industry wide recognition and all industry stakeholders appreciated my work as well as got to know updates and analysis in a structured way.For instance several journalists from Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Hindu etc. have approached me for gaining perspective about the gaming industry. Top gaming executives from Indian and International companies have also appreciated my work. 
 
Is there anything else you would like to share?
 
A. One should start writing a blog if he/she is really passionate about the subject and able to continuously follow-up, interact with relevant people and keep abreast with latest developments. Just to write a one-off article, it is not advisable to start a dedicated blog, it is better to get published in a periodical or journal. Again, one must be careful to write concise posts in a lucid language and not unnecessarily complicate legal issues. The posts ideally should not be more than 1000 words (or should be split into two if its too long). Some of the posts could be news and updates, others could be analytical pieces.  
 
Do you want to write blog posts and leverage blogging professionally? If yes, contact Ramanuj at ramanuj@ipleaders.in
 




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