Mining State Legislatures for Legal Policy Posts
State legislative developments can be a profitable source of blogging inspiration for law firm marketers.
This post is a follow-on to yesterday’s post urging law firm bloggers to blog more often on state and local policy matters. It’s not difficult. And the end product is a fresh, unique, keyword-rich, genuinely informative post that positions your firm as a expert in whichever subject area you choose.
State legislative action is low-hanging fruit due to the existence of robust, free legislative information sources and the lack of online competition for this information.
A good place to begin is the National Conference of State Legislatures. The NCSL website is a goldmine of information about the operations of state legislatures and summaries of leading state policy issues across the United States. Just today NCSL staff published a report on child support and family law legislation enacted in 2016. The report is a great jumping-off point for a blog post by firms with family law practices.
State Bill Introductions
Another good NCSL resource for policy bloggers is its 2017 state legislative sessions calendar. A quick pass of the mouse over the map and it’s easy to see that most statehouses convened this week or last. Now is the best time of year to get started tracking state legislation on your blog.
Taking Illinois as an example, the Illinois General Assembly website publishes session schedules, member directories, committee hearings, live audio and video of proceedings, bill tracking information and bill text. An Illinois lawyer prospecting for a policy blog post idea should begin on the bill tracking page.
Let’s see … looking over the Senate bill introductions I spy the New Vehicle Buyer Protection Act of 2017 (SB 76), which was introduced today by Sen. Ira L. Silverstein (D-Chicago). SB 76 is a comprehensive reworking of the state’s lemon law, repealing the New Vehicle Buyer Protection Act. SB 76 is worth a blog post by any Illinois attorney with a consumer protection, bankruptcy, personal injury or dedicated “lemon law” practice.
Another example … introduced yesterday by Sen. Michael Connelly (R-Naperville), SB 12 proposes numerous significant changes to the Illinois workers’ compensation law, including the creation of a new crime of workers’ compensation fraud, new exemptions from state freedom of information laws, a new rule for injured professional athletes, adjustments to compensation rates, the creation of new Workers' Compensation Edit, Alignment, and Reform Commission tasked with the job of writing a new workers’ compensation statute. Any or all of these proposed changes would make a good blog post for a personal injury, workers’ compensation, or labor law firm’s website.
Legislative action on both the proposed lemon law and the workers’ compensation measure should be a fertile source of blog posts from now until the Illinois General Assembly adjourns on May 31. In most cases, legislation that is under serious consideration will generate frequent opportunities for reporting: the addition of new sponsors, hearings, statements from affected industry and consumer associations, analyses from state bar groups, amendments, votes and floor debate etc etc.
Some states make bill tracking even easier than Illinois. Many (California comes to mind) offer email alert services, making tracking as easy as minding your inbox.
My table of state legislatures and session dates is available as a Google Sheet.
Regardless of which state you practice in, prospecting for state legislative proposals of interest to your clients can be rewarding. Good information on state legislation is scarce and, consequently, highly valuable. Your blog most could very well be one of the few pages available on the Internet for a particular matter. State legislative developments are not well-covered by national publications (general circulation or specialized legal), nor are they profitable for state-specific publishers to cover in any but the largest markets.