Online Legal Publishing Is A Waste Of Time

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Like most other areas of online publishing, legal publishing on the web takes many forms. However, many of the legal websites that I review on a daily basis simply don’t seem committed to making significant investments in developing their online content. Which leads to generally ineffective legal web content. Which leads to some legal professionals drawing the conclusion that publishing online is largely a waste of time.


When you think of online legal publishing, what come to mind? Legal articles & alerts like those found at JDSupra? The posts of legal bloggers like those found on the Lexblog network? Legal social media discussions like #LegalChat or legal facebook pages? Legal guides and answers like those found on Avvo’s free legal advice section?

Here are some small business content questions from Rishi Lakhani that may help some lawyers develop better online content:

  • Where do you go to find information on competitors, clients and complementary services?
  • Which information services are the MOST relevant to your niche? (e.g., local paper, medical journal, Business Digest, National Geographic)
  • What are the most common questions you or your team ask/are asked while dealing with clients?
  • Are there any interesting cases worth remembering?
  • What non-business information do you display on your physical venue of business?
  • What charitable / social / community events are you, your team, or business involved in?
  • Which sites do you feel are authoritative in terms of customer information?
  • Do you regularly follow any blogs, podcasts, radio shows, or magazines that are important to your business or niche?
  • Which members of your team (including yourself) can write passable 3-4 paragraph summaries on any information presented to you?
  • Are you willing to dedicate 15-20 mins a day per team member to develop content?

Asking and answering some of these questions can help you come up with “better” ideas for web content than merely regurgitating local news stories (which you might be surprised to learn is a very common practice by law firms online).

Spending time developing your legal web content will better engage your visitors, as well as, help your performance in search results. Make sure that you’re keeping your content both visitor & search-friendly by paying attention to:

  • Titles
  • Descriptions
  • Categories & Tags
  • Your Outbound Linking Policy
  • Your Internal linking policy
  • Calls to action
  • Prohibit subject-matter, writing styles, etc.

Finally, don’t limit yourself to text-only. Consider other types of web content like images, infographics, and videos (but not like this). Consider publishing an e-book. Using different forms of online content will make your content more link-worthy and shareable (which will also increase its search visibility).

Keep an open mind about both the form and substance of your online legal publishing. If you’ve been publishing online and you haven’t had success, chances are that it has more to do with your online content than it does about the effectiveness of online publishing as a law firm marketing strategy.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wakingtiger/3157621994/)

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  • I agree that “regurgitating local news stories” does nothing to add to the conversation, but they can serve as powerful inspirations, especially when brainstorming article ideas for a client-focused website. “Legal publishing” attracts curious potential clients as well as lawyers, so some information needs to be presented in layman’s terms.

  • Completely agree! Content generation is one thing, but content innovation is another. Think seriously about how will the potential client best consume this information. Is it a blog, an audio file or video. One thing I’ll add just out of frustration is the tendency of firms to wrap content up in pdfs. Despite the impenetrability of PDF’s by search engines, law firms notoriously package up great information that is simply locked up.