For some of you who are reading this, blogging is easy. You’ve got something to say that you believe is worthwhile, and you don’t hesitate to say it. If you are an attorney, you have plenty to write about – high-profile cases, new court rulings, the laws in your state, and more. Ideally, your blog posts are attracting new business – and boosting your bottom line – so it’s important to focus on the topics that are most likely to bring new clients your way.
Thus, according to attorney, blogger, and realtor Paul Sian, JD, MBA, “Attorneys should be blogging about problem solving. That does not mean writing a blog article that says come to such and such attorney and they will solve your problems. Instead explanations of how something can be dealt with (like confronting and eviction) by a person on their own. Attorney blogs should provide value info to the readers and should also write towards their readers. That means not writing a blog like a law review article.”
Whether you write the blog posts yourself or have the actual text written by an internet marketing firm, selecting an appropriate topic is key. Take some time to consider topics. A flash of inspiration may compel you to write passionately on a topic, but that kind of shooting from the hip might be at odds with your blog’s general theme and direction. The ideas presented here should help, and most likely, some of these ideas will work for you.
1. ANSWERING CLIENTS’ QUESTIONS
The answers to the specific legal questions that you most often get from your own clients can provide you with a number of good blogging topics. You already know which questions are most frequently asked. If you’ve previously answered some of these questions before in writing – in letters or emails – you may be able to cut and paste parts of your text and avoid re-inventing the wheel. Along with answering the questions that clients ask, use some of your blog posts to answer the questions that your clients don’t ask, but should. By providing the answers that virtually every client needs to know, you’ll be writing on topics with almost universal appeal.
2. LEGAL CURRENT EVENTS
Almost everyone is interested in celebrities, as any newsstand will confirm. When celebrities are involved in high-profile trials and other legal disputes, it’s naturally interesting to many people. What’s in the news often makes appealing topics for blog posts, whether it’s a high-profile trial, a tough new law, or a controversial court ruling. Depending on your particular focus, a blog post might touch on anything current from politics to product recalls or celebrity divorces. Use the news stories as a launching pad for explaining the legal issues and how to handle those issues.
Listen to your clients. Are there particular “hot” issues that concern them at the moment? Look at the headlines. What are people reading about that has a legal aspect? And look at social media. Are people discussing trending legal issues on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter that may not be receiving much mainstream coverage? If you choose to write on a current event topic, offer more than a simple opinion. Make whatever you write helpful to your potential and existing clients.
3. OTHER TYPES OF BLOG POSTS
Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com says, “One of the best ways an attorney can set themselves apart in their field is to be seen as a thought leader within it, and a blog is a great medium for that…. A family lawyer could write a piece on ‘5 Ways to Help Visitation Go Smoothly’ while an intellectual property lawyer might write on ‘Why the DMCA is Outdated.’ These are thoughts and opinions that are good for the site from an SEO perspective and do not advertise the firm or attorney’s services, which is a very important detail attorneys need to pay attention to when blogging.”
Ms. Sweeney adds this caution: “Before an attorney publishes a post, they need to ask themselves if the content advertises the firm or lawyer as available for hire in any way. If it does, it is considered a communication and needs to adhere to standards set by Rule 1-400. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any kind of self-promotion since it breaks the rule about predicting the results of representation.”
SHOULD YOU RELY ON A “FORMULA” FOR WRITING BLOG POSTS?
Most writers of legal blog posts rely on some type of formula. Many of the best blog posts make use of information that is already available and “re-purpose” it by tying it to a current news story or to a common legal question. Listed and discussed here are some of the most popular formulas and formats used by the writers of legal blogs:
The Advocacy Post: Some of the most widely-read – and best remembered – law blogs are authored by attorneys who are passionate advocates for a cause such as immigration reform, food safety, environmentalism, or LBGT rights. Michael Kosowski is a director at Herald Strategies, a PR firm in Brooklyn that represents Sanford Rubenstein, a high-profile New York City civil rights attorney.
Mr. Kosowski says that Mr. Rubenstein “frequently wants to blog about his take on moral and social justice issues. He is very outspoken about the crimes and discrimination directed towards people of color in the United States. His twitter posts offer direct charges, frequently to the city of New York or other governing body, in order to call for social progress and policy change. Besides using social media for those purposes, he also alerts his followers to the dates and times of his press conferences, and the nature of his legal cases.”
The Predictive Post: You don’t have to wait until December to write “predictions.” You can do it when the Supreme Court convenes in October, when your own state’s legislature meets each year, or before just before an upcoming election. Use your predictions as a starting point to discuss the issues that engage your target audience. A perfect example at the moment – if you’re an immigration lawyer, for instance – is the November elections. Explain what’s likely to happen to immigration laws if Republicans win and what’s likely if Democrats win.
The Top Ten Post: It doesn’t have to be ten. It can be the top six, eight, or eleven tips that your reader needs to know about (for example) how to file a personal injury claim, how to have a criminal conviction expunged, or what to consider in the estate planning process.
The Response-to-Comments Post: If you allow for comments on your blog posts – and you probably should, but you will need to monitor those comments closely – eventually you may generate some lively discussions among readers. Summarize the discussion, quote from the comments, and elaborate on the issues that commenters raise.
The Regular Feature Post: Something like “This Week in Family Law” gives readers something to look forward to each week. Simply offer a roundup of relevant news items and your take on them. A similar approach is the “aggregate” post, offering links to relevant items of concern elsewhere on the internet, maybe with an introductory comment. While some attorneys are reticent to offer links that “take readers away” from their blog or website, it’s perfectly fine to do that, provided that you are directing your readers to relevant and useful information. Most readers will appreciate what you do and come back for more.
The Guest Post: It’s fine to invite another lawyer or professional expert to contribute an occasional blog post. It gives your blog some variety, and it shows your readers that it’s not all just about you. Your guest writers can take away some of the pressure to write and may provide your audience with a fresh perspective, their own particular expertise, and useful new information.
The point is that regardless of your area of legal practice, your online readers are looking for easy-to-understand explanations of the law and how it impacts their lives, families, and interests. Obviously, readers are also interested in how you and your firm handle the legal issues that are discussed. A successful blog meets all of these goals and brings readers back on a regular basis. Take a few minutes and look at some of the top law blogs. You’ll get some good ideas. In the end, of course, you’ll have to decide what’s right and comfortable for you.
One of the basic principles taught in writing classes is “show, don’t tell.” A well-written blog post is your opportunity to express your uniqueness as an attorney and to demonstrate how your firm differs from the others. Of course, even the best advice can’t purchase you the time you may need to write and to focus on blogging, and if you really have no idea where to start, plenty of help is available.
If you work with an experienced internet marketing firm, a professional writer can draft your blog posts on your behalf with your own suggestions, input, and editing. It’s a solution that works well for scores law firms and attorneys across the nation. In today’s highly competitive legal marketplace, you already know that you need every edge you can get. Make it a point to speak right away with some internet marketing professionals and learn how they can help.