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Producing your own legal podcast

The popularity of podcasts has been skyrocketing in legal circles, allowing attorneys a new outlet to spread news and opinion. And with a rise in potential clients who listen to podcasts on their morning commute, legal podcasts can also be a high-quality marketing device.

Lawyers USA recently spoke with some of the web’s most well-known legal podcasters for tips and suggestions on what lawyers need to know to create a successful podcast:

• Get the right technology.
One of the perks of producing a podcast is that it can be done cheaply. All it takes is a digital microphone attached to your computer and you’re good to go.
A number of websites will host your podcast for free or for a small fee, such as Audioblog , which allows you to record directly to their site. Audioblog will then transfer the recording to a file for download or as a link to send to friends and colleagues.

• Decide on a format.
One thing listeners love in podcasts is consistency. So if your first podcast is five minutes long, don’t make your second last over an hour.
J. Craig Williams, co-host of the Lawyer2Lawyer podcast on the Legal Talk Network, suggests basing the format on the length of your morning commute, since that is when most people will choose to listen.
Williams’ podcast features guests and news segments and runs for almost a half hour. But legal marketing expert Larry Bodine – who has produced podcasts for the Chicago Bar Association – suggests more of a bite-sized approach.
“Most people should go for two to five minutes,” said Bodine. “Remember we’re dealing with the short attention span generation. People who are listening just want you to make your point and move on.”
Such a format essentially means treating the podcast similar to a blog post consisting of a few paragraphs.

• Find content at work.
Trial lawyers are accustomed to giving presentations all day long, from their firm’s conference area to the deposition room to the courtroom.
For attorneys scrambling for content, these interactions can be a treasure trove for podcast subjects.
Dennis Kennedy, legal technology author and co-host of the Kennedy-Mighell Report, records and listens to his longer presentations to find material for his podcasts.

• Make an outline, not a script.
Longer, more elaborate shows such as Lawyer2Lawyer require more of a script, but for the do-it-yourself podcaster, it’s best to jot down a few key points and go from there.
“The last thing you want is to sound like someone on an infomercial, reading off a rehearsed script,” said Bodine. “You want it to sound like a conversation, because that’s what it is. It’s okay to have little speaking imperfections, [such as] a short pause while you gather your thoughts. It’s more natural.”

• Invite an occasional guest.
For longer podcasts (15-20 minutes), a different point of view can be refreshing for the listener. A simple question-and-answer format works well for an interview of a selected guest.

• Consider your schedule.
For many working attorneys, anything more frequent than a weekly podcast could be a real burden. Make sure you have the time for the commitment. (Also, don’t insert the word “daily” or “weekly” into the title of your podcast if you’re unsure whether you can keep to that schedule.)
If you already have a blog, don’t use the podcast as a means to simply repeat what you have already written.
Bodine said he uses emotion to determine which subjects he deems “podcast-worthy” as opposed to those more fitting for a blog post.
“The podcast is more intimate. Treat it like you’re telling a secret to a friend,” he advised.
For example, Bodine recorded his reaction to a fellow attorney being fired by a client (without revealing names, of course).
“Certain feelings provide a great hook to engage people. Something that causes anguish or something that is humorous belongs in a podcast. You can’t convey those feelings too easily in the written word.”

• Get the word out.
Like blogging, there are myriad ways to market your podcast quickly and easily.
Many lawyers use Twitter to update followers when a new podcast debuts. Others upload them to iTunes.
Also, be sure to attach your podcast to an RSS feed so it can be picked up more easily.

Lawyers USA currently links to podcasts for small law firms and solo practitioners on our website. If you are interested in putting your podcast up on our site, please contact Justin Rebello at justin.rebello@lawyersusaonline.com.