LMME 025 : Greg Siskind, the First Lawyer Blogger

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Greg SiskindToday’s guest is Greg Siskind.  Greg is an immigration lawyer from Memphis, Tennessee and is widely regarded as the first ever lawyer blogger.  He also can proudly boast that he published the first ever lawyer website for a solo practice back in 1994!

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Items Mentioned in the Podcast

Inspirational Quote

“You may not realize is when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney

His Journey

Greg started his own law practice in 1994 after an immigration case landed on his desk.  Since he enjoyed immigration cases, and his first did not, Greg realized that the big firm lifestyle did not suit him – so he started his own firm.

He started an immigration practice because he liked the work from a substantive standpoint, and he realized that he could build a nationwide practice. Immigration is a “helping practice” that is not necessarily adversarial in nature.  This was important because Greg did not want to litigate.  In addition, Greg found that there were virtually no other immigration lawyers in his area.

In the past 20 years, Greg has grown his practice into a 12 lawyer firm with multiple offices across the country.

What held you back from starting a law firm?

Financial fears – Greg had student loan debt and his wife was a social worker. However, he was fortunate to receive a contract from West Publishing to do a book deal. His first royalty check was $35,000, which allowed him to leave the firm and start his practice.

Around that same time in 1994, Greg read an article about Graceland and the fact that they had recently set up a website. This was a lightbulb moment for him realizing that he could also build a website and market his immigration practice nationwide.

He the became the first solo lawyer in the country to build a website in 1994.

What was his biggest failure?

In 2008, Greg’s firm had merged with another practice from New York. After some time, they decided to part ways, which Greg regrets. He wishes that he had been more patient in doing his due diligence on the other firm to insure that the merger would work. He still questions whether he made the right decision to merge and then divorce the two firm.

Greg’s “online journal” and the history of his blogging efforts

Greg discusses how he started his “online journal”, which was a precursor to the modern-day law blog. Here is a screen shot:

Greg's Website - circa 1997

Greg’s Website – circa 1997

Since 2007, Greg has done a great deal of blogging at ILW.com where he is a syndicated columnist.  ILW s a major website for immigration news and resources.  Greg has almost 4,000 posts there.

How do you find time to blog?

Greg blogs about 4-5 times per week. Here is how he does it:

  • Good blog post does not have to be more than 2-3 paragraphs
  • Provide something of value
  • Link to other news sites
  • Break posts into multiple entries
  • Doesn’t need to be a long article – that is not the place for a blog
  • “Immigrant of the Day” allows him to profile immigrants that he sees in the news

What Greg is working on right now

His law firm is turning 20 years old this year. In connection with that, he is updating his law firm’s website.

He is also working on several book projects, as well as drafting immigration legislation for Congress!

What Greg likes most about having his own law firm?

Greg enjoys the autonomy of having his own business. He enjoys the freedom of not having to answer to anyone else.

What was holding Greg back from starting his own law firm?

The cost and fear of how supportive his family would be.  Neither of these were major issues for Greg, in hindsight.

Best business advice Greg ever received.

There are three things that you can deliver on: price, quality and speed. If you try to deliver on all three of these, you will go out of business. But if you deliver on 2 out of three, your business can excel. Greg strives to deliver good quality work, quickly – but he is not cheap.  He is happy to let other lawyers be the cheapest.

A personal habit that contributes to Greg’s success

He is not afraid to have outrageous goals.

Law practice resources that Greg recommends…

A book that Greg recommends

What would Greg do if he had to start his practice over again from scratch with nothing but a laptop, a law license and $500

Join a bar association with a mentor program. Take a pro bono case so that he could get experience building an immigration law practice. Set up an online profile and start writing online (via Twitter, Google+ and Facebook).

Parting piece of guidance

“You can do it on your own.” If you start your own practice, you will not starve to death, you will make it.

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