Penelope Trunk, who writes the career blog the Brazen Careerist, argues that book publishing is an outmoded way of distinguishing yourself. Her arguments have some merit. We live in a fast paced digital world where blogging is a much quicker way to get your ideas published. The amount of time that it takes to write a book ensures that you are unlikely to get a meaningful return on your investment (at least in terms of book sales or speaking engagements.)
For professionals, however, I think the calculus is a different. Lawyers are still valued for the knowledge and experience they bring to their clients. Writing a book on a particular area of legal practice is one way to say to the world that you are the expert (i.e. you wrote the book.) If you have written or edited a treatise on the non-compete agreements, for example, then prospective clients are more apt to view you as someone they should hire if they want to enforce a non-compete.
I’ve often thought of publishing a book on career issues facing the legal community; but for now, I’ll stick with blogging and the occasional article in a legal publication. I get the chance to think reflectively about what is going on in the legal profession, I have the satisfaction of seeing myself in print quickly, and I am not distracted from the hard work that it takes to succeed as a recruiter.