David Fraser: “Blogging has helped me become a better lawyer”

This week’s interview is the 5th in our Original Clawbies Winners Interview Series, and features blogging insights from David T.S. Fraser. Fraser is a privacy lawyer at McInnes Cooper in Halifax, NS. He has been blogging at the Canadian Privacy Law Blog since 2004, and blogged at Slaw.ca from 2008 to 2011.

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David Fraser blogs at the Canadian Privacy Law Blog

You’ve been blogging for more than a decade. Do you remember what prompted you to start blogging in the first place?

What prompted me to start was simply being an avid reader of the first generation of legal blogs, learning a lot from what I was reading and wanting to “join the conversation”. The privacy portion of my practice was growing and while a number of internet law bloggers were talking about privacy as an aspect of internet law, there didn’t seem to be anyone out there who was singularly focused on this area. I have always enjoyed writing and I felt like I could make a contribution to the growing community of lawyers who were doing internet law. As a privacy law practitioner, I knew that I’d have to do a lot of reading to keep on top of this rapidly changing area of law. Since I was reading a lot and enjoy writing, it simply made sense to share what I was finding and what I was learning.

Has blogging changed your professional or personal life? Can you share an anecdote or two?

For me, blogging has been the single most transformative aspect of my practice. I am based in Halifax and started blogging when I was just beginning to grow my practice in privacy law. Now, more than a dozen years later, my practice is national and international with most of my clients coming from far outside of Atlantic Canada. In-house counsel and sophisticated clients are looking for the right lawyer for the job, they first try to find them online or via reputation, and for advisory work it doesn’t particularly matter where the lawyer’s desk is. Thanks to my blog, it’s pretty easy for anyone looking for experienced privacy counsel to find me. And my blog hopefully shows that I know what I’m talking about.

Has blogging helped you become a better lawyer/librarian/etc? In what way?

I don’t think there’s any doubt it has helped me become a better lawyer. One of the reasons for starting blogging was that I had to do a lot of reading to keep on top of my practice area and I was happy to share what I’d found through my blog. As that took off, it was an additional incentive to keep on top of developments.

How do you decide what topics to cover?

My blog is 100% devoted to Canadian privacy law. I don’t often blog about anything unless there is a connection with the theme. So blogging ebbs and flows according to developments in the area. I’m pretty opinionated and often feel the desire to write about a bunch of other things, but I do that on Twitter or Facebook.

Do you ever include items of a personal/less-serious nature?

I try not to include anything personal or off-topic. I expect that people read my blog or follow it via RSS because they are interested in hearing about Canadian privacy law. Though I hope my personality shows through, but the blog is not about me or my personal life. And it’s not that I’m paranoid about privacy. You can follow me on Facebook or on Twitter to get a more personal glimpse.

How do you spread the word about a new blog post? Through social media or other channels?

I’ve set things up so that each blog post goes to LinkedIn and Facebook, and I always tweet each new blog post. My firm will usually re-tweet my postings.

Do you mention your blog in your (firm website/faculty) biography?

I make it clear that I practice with McInnes Cooper, but I do have the usual disclaimer that my content is only my own opinion and shouldn’t be attributed to the firm and its clients. When I started blogging, I didn’t ask my firm for permission and purposefully didn’t try to put it under the firm’s branding. I wanted to be a bit more free to say what I wanted and I was also pretty sure that the firm’s management at the time didn’t have much of an understanding of what a blog was. Things are different now and, if I were starting this today, I’d at least give my managing partner a heads’ up.

Thanks for your insight, David! Missed the previous installments of this series? See them here: David Canton, Michael Geist, Vincent Gautrais, and Allison Wolf — and check back next Wednesday for out chat with Neil Melliship.

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