Stop writing for Yourself

Blog by Julian Summerhayes. 629 words.

First of all, accept that it in order to command your space, you will not leverage your brand by recommendation only. You need to spread your message, or better still earn the attention of your followers.

The power of Brand You is far more powerful than trying to leverage a Uber brand.

My experience is that few lawyers like to write.

When I say “like” what I mean is that it assumes no significance in the context of their professional practice. Fee earning is more akin to their natural inclination. There is a tangible result.

Law firms are awash with information. Very few have worked out how to repurpose it in a way that is meaningful to their clients. Even those that have the benefit of KM teams continue unabated to produce more of the same.

The simple question is this: how much of your content is original?

Most lawyers will take a case or opinion and try to craft a story. Very often it becomes an emasculated version of the original. The ratio defines the story and even if you want to claim a wrong interpretation of the law, are you seriously going to suggest that all your clients bet the house on challenging the authority?

Very rarely do they consider what might be of interest to their clients. There is an obvious lacuna between the usual Q&A on the website and the case reporting.

If lawyers really want to stand out in a crowded market, then they need to see the significance of the written word. This is not just about PR it is about stamping your authority on your chosen area. Nowadays there are so many outlets for your content.

  • Website;
  • Twitter;
  • Facebook;
  • Blog;
  • You Tube;
  • Slideshare;
  • Scribd;
  • LinkedIn;
  • Squidoo.

I would love to see law firms try something new. I have mentioned previously bringing someone in from a creative background (a screen writer or the like) and see what they make of your intended copy. I have no doubt that there would be some strong words spoken along the lines of “What the hell is this?” Let’s face it, would you really be that inclined to read another case? There needs to be emotional connection. Absent that there will be no engagement. One disaster story after another doesn’t really cut it.

Writing is not easy, even for those people that make a living out of it. It requires patience, fortitude and a thick skin. In the current market everyone wants instant results and it is unlikely writing will give you that.

One way of improving your craft is to stop reading so much law. Yes, you heard me. Stop thinking about the law all the time. Try to think of your favourite writer or magazine.

Engagement is key. If you are not used to the blogging format, then it is about time that you opened up your website to at least one blog. Go for WordPress. You can probably get something up and running in a couple of weeks.

The beauty of a blog is that gives you instant feedback, something that you may not be used to.

Next time someone asks you to write, see it as an opportunity to expand your horizons, engage with your fans and practice your craft. Every time you pass on the opportunity you are sliding into obscurity.

Remember though that you are writing for interest and engagement and not supremacy in the law. Very few clients will be in a position to challenge you. That is not to say you go for the bottom line and become complacent but neither does it mean that you lapse into a recital of the law as if you were writing the next volume of Chitty on Contracts.

Empathy, emotion and engagement: the three Es of writing. Now that’s a message to take to the world.

~ Julian Summerhayes ~

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