How To Write The Legal Blog Article That You Would Want To Read

by Michelle Sherman

The good news is that there are other approaches to writing a blog article that are just as easy to use, and will produce a blog article that a wider audience will want to read. An audience that includes business professionals  and in house counsel who are using blogs more and more as a way to find attorneys for their legal matters. A 2012 survey by Greentarget and Inside Counsel Magazine reported that 84% of the in house attorney respondents trust blogs, and more than half of the survey respondents said a law firm blog can influence the hiring of one firm over another. 

A. Write With Added Value. Don't Be Part Of The Greek Chorus.

The first challenge in writing a blog article is to find a topic that people care about. The second challenge is finding a way to cover the issue that is original, and not a slightly different version of what 20+ other attorneys have already said. When presented with the challenge to write about the PhoneDog v. Kravitz litigation - does the employer or employee own the Twitter account - it became clear that everyone was writing about the novel legal issue, but very few articles seemed to be discussing what businesses should do to better protect themselves. That article led to a journalist interviewing and quoting me in a February 23, 2012 Inside Counsel Story about the case.

B. Lead With What Readers Will Get From The Article, And Why They Should Care.

The title and first paragraph of any article is really a make or break for whether someone will take the time to read your article. Similar to the "inverted pyramid" style used by journalists, let your readers know in the first few paragraphs what legal issues are being addressed, and why it is important to their business. It may be a recent case decision that viewed in the bigger picture is a problem that businesses want to take preventive measures to avoid. For example, your article may use the FTC settlement with Facebook to highlight why businesses need to be updating their online policies.

C. Be Generous With Your Headings So Your Readers Can Decide Where To Skim Or Read More Closely.

Make your blog article "user friendly" by using clear headings, and then editing your article so you do not include more details than are really necessary. If the reader is interested in knowing more, then hopefully you will have hyperlinked to the case opinion, agency settlement, or the other original source document. Readers will appreciate you providing them with these links so they don't have to search the Internet for them.

The "middle" part of your blog article should include a discussion of the case opinion or legal development that prompted you to write the article. This is the part where self-editing comes in handy so you don't lose your readers by discussing the facts and procedural history of the case ad nauseum

D. Conclude With More Than One Take Away, And Avoid Being Longwinded To Get There.

Concluding paragraphs should ideally tie back to the promises you made to readers at the beginning of your blog article. You have told them why they should care about this recent legal development, and reviewed the law in the area so they appreciate the significance of the court's opinion (or agency action). Now, you want to conclude with the most important and creative part of your blog article: What lessons your readers can take from the legal development that prompted your article. There may be proactive changes that businesses should be making, or agreements they should be revising. In other words, you should do more than report on a recent legal development using an IRAC writing style.

E. Quality Should Prevail Over Quantity: Write Blog Articles You Would Want To Read.

Blog articles can be an effective tool for building your reputation as a knowledge leader, while also providing a service to your clients. However, you will be wasting your time with little gain if you write a dry blog article.  No one likes the feeling of having taken the time to read a blog article that started out by making implied promises that the reader will get some useful takeaways and being left with mostly a case summary. It may sound cliché, but quality is more important than quantity.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Michelle Sherman, Michelle Sherman | Attorney Advertising

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Michelle Sherman

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