MJM’s Bermuda Law Blog Celebrates 5 Years! A Behind the Scenes Peek Into How It All Began

MJM’s Bermuda Law Blog Celebrates 5 Years! A Behind the Scenes Peek Into How It All Began

About Agathe HolowatincAgathe Holowatinc

Agathe manages the firm’s library and information centre, provides legal research and reference services and delivers training in the use of print and online resources to the firm’s attorneys and pupils. She also coordinates the firm’s marketing and public relations programme, leads the design and development of the firm website, Bermuda Law Blog and MJM Quarterly Newsletter, and oversees IT operations.

Agathe Holowatinc’s full profile on mjm.bm.

March 2018 marks the 5th anniversary of the Bermuda Law Blog. Developed in 2013 as a way to communicate legal trends and topics relevant to Bermuda, including policy developments, cases, legislative changes and posts of general legal interest, it effectively scrapped the posting of ever-so-quickly dated “publications” documents delivered through the firm website as a link to a formal downloadable PDF.  We were stepping outside the box in the hopes that visitors to our blog would find it more engaging, informative and useful.  Although the road ahead was uncertain, the firm’s directors gave the thumbs up for its development. They saw that blogging could offer a terrific opportunity to extend the value and scope of our legal experience to our clients and legal colleagues in areas of current interest through posts that are written in an accessible way. Andrew Martin put it really well when he said “Blog posts create a user friendly expression of ideas and information across the spectrum of work we do and give us an opportunity to demonstrate a high level of competence in our core areas of practice, as well as provide practical and informative guidance which we hope our clients and the wider legal community will find of interest.”

Here’s to dynamic and forward-thinking leaders, I thought to myself.

To backtrack a bit, the Bermuda Law Blog started off as a little vision that kept popping up in my mind. It was relentless. It wouldn’t go away. I had seen some law blogs that were taking off in North America and the U.K. and I loved reading them. They were timely, dynamic and personal in nature, which contrasted starkly to most law firm websites and the publications found on them. Blog posts were relatable and even fun to read (okay, maybe not all were fun…but the majority, and that counts). I had just moved to Bermuda in August of 2012, had hit the ground running as Information Services Manager at our busy firm, and it didn’t take long before I started to get excited about the potential that a law blog could offer – the intellectual exchange of ideas in a more engaging and value-driven way  –  if the directors would be willing to go for it and if the lawyers and managers would be willing to modify their communication style a bit so that their new publications had more of a personal voice.

Fast forward through reports, meetings and presentations, the idea was indeed approved by the directors and I dove right into the design and development of our new legal blog. First, a name. I logged onto GoDaddy to see if bermudalawblog.bm was available. To my surprise it was! And the cost was reasonable. We purchased it and I starting drafting the website’s architecture, thinking of all the possibilities and of all the posts to come. The Bermuda Law Blog was born.

While in development, I set out to discuss the new platform with everyone internally, focusing on how the blog would look, feel and read, and what that would mean for our updates, articles and publications going forward. I applied my enthusiasm and crossed my fingers for good luck and I was delighted to find that the idea went over pretty well. Change is not always everyone’s cup of tea, as you know, but the lawyers were ready to blaze a new trail forward. To that end, four brave souls and I led the way by writing the first posts that appeared when the Bermuda Law Blog went live on March 20th, 2013. Interestingly, that date fell right on the first day of Spring in 2013, which seemed like an anomaly at the time as the first day of Spring had typically been celebrated on the 21st, until then. Spring, a time of renewal, growth and expansion, began early that year, an occurrence that seemed so fitting for the new beginning we at MJM were embarking on. I didn’t plan on it, but I think the law blog was meant to be launched right on that day.

Topics covered in our first posts ranged from “The New Business Bermuda Development Corporation (“BBDC”) to spearhead Promotion of Bermuda” by Brian Holidipp to a bit about work permit term limits by Jennifer Haworth to Incorporating a Bermuda Company Made Easier by a lady I miss who retired a couple of years ago, to my post called New Government Has Plans to Take Bermuda in a New Direction about the Throne Speech at the time, to Bermuda Calling: Telecommunications Reform & Investment Opportunity  (do you remember when your internet bill dropped significantly in price?! I sure do!).

Soon after our launch, the media got wind of what we were doing and the Bermuda Law Blog was featured in Bernews, the Royal Gazette and in a TV interview as well. Quite a start!

As if it were always part of our workday, and with, perhaps, a few friendly email reminders (lawyers do tend to bury their heads deep into their client work), contributions came in and our blog was regularly updated with new posts on a variety of interesting topics. It became used heavily by, and attracted a great deal of positive attention from, both clients and competitors.

Over the years, certain posts stand out in my mind. These include:

Not that it’s always been easy, however. It can be challenging to consistently publish valuable and engaging content, but we try our best. And, for the lawyers who were used to writing much more formal updates and publications in the past, one of the hardest parts of transitioning to blog writing, I discovered, was when they were told they could not use footnotes or endnotes! Footnotes and endnotes are wonderfully academic, excellent for papers, but a bit intimidating and a little annoying, and far from friendly. Blog posts are intended to be accessible for all to read, written in a personal voice and a conversational style. All I can say is that years of writing a certain way was hard to shake off for some! But a few groans, moans and revisions later…everyone got the point. Yay! Onward.

The joys of administering a legal blog are many. One of my favourites is the little giggle I get (on the inside, of course) when, on occasion, I receive an email from one of our lawyers indicating that they have “written a blog.” 🙂 It’s so sweet. Technically, they’ve written a “post,” or a “submission,” “content” or possibly even an “article,” but hey, who am I to tell them that they haven’t written an entire “blog!”

There is a sign-up feature on the homepage that allows visitors to enter their email address so that they can receive regular updates from the Bermuda Law Blog directly to their inbox. That way, you’re alerted when something new is posted. But just in case you miss that, we regularly provide our clients and friends of the firm with informational updates on key developments in Bermuda law via quarterly electronic newsletters. Those include a roundup of our most popular posts from that season. Then, in December, we publish and send out an interactive copy of our ‘A Year in Review’ where we summarise key changes in Bermuda’s legal sphere over the past year and preview what the coming year may have in store. But back to the blog, we also have a legal resources section that highlights useful links relevant to Bermuda law, at a glance. And if you’ve somehow forgotten the web address, then there’s a link at the top of the MJM website called Blog that will take you there.

I hope you enjoyed this little look “behind the scenes” of the Bermuda Law Blog. Today, with archives going back to March 2013, the blog is home to hundreds of posts on all kinds of topics spanning the legal sphere in Bermuda and a bit beyond. I’m delighted to say that the same description I wrote 5 years ago for the “About this blog” section on the landing page still stands true for the Bermuda Law Blog today:

About this blog
The MJM Bermuda Law Blog launched in 2013 and focuses on new and interesting issues emerging in Bermuda’s legal sphere. It features information and commentary on trends & topics relevant to Bermuda law.

I look forward, with much anticipation, to what the next 5 years will bring.