Free: 10 Things the Best Law-Firm Website Designs Have in Common
For seven years, Lawyerist has published an annual list of the best law firm websites. Now, you can find out what they have in common.
Guest post by Danielle Rodabaugh.
Being well-informed of your profession and wanting to share that knowledge with others is admirable. However, with the virtually limitless amount of information available online today, you can’t expect significant feedback just because you published any old law article on your blog or website. Whether you’re trying to build a strong readership for your blog or attract potential clients with a company website, you need to turn boring law topics into engaging, relevant reads.
As a surety professional who writes about the legal intricacies involved in bonding, I know how important it is to write about legal issues in interesting and comprehensible ways. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the surety industry is too boring for most people to care about.
So, to make surety bonds seem interesting enough to learn about, I follow these five rules every time I write an article.
1. Write for your audience.
Not all law blogs and websites are the same. Some investigate recent court rulings and break down their potential implications for future cases. Some are targeted to people who live in a certain area. Others discuss new legislation that could affect law professionals. Still others write to explain complicated legal processes to clients. To write effectively, you first have to recognize who your readers are and then determine the best way to connect with them.
For example, if your blog or website is targeted to other legal professionals, it makes sense to include specific terminology when writing articles. However, if you’re developing content for potential clients, you probably shouldn’t use too much technical jargon. If your audience doesn’t understand what you’re saying, you won’t be able to gain their trust. After all, you wouldn’t want to pay attention to someone you can’t communicate with, either.
2. Don’t be boring.
Find a way to take a boring legal topic and make your audience care about it. Use a unique tone, and develop a flow. Your readers should recognize your writing by the way it reads rather than the byline. To make the topic more approachable, reference personal experiences in the first person. When appropriate, it’s even ok to be funny and make jokes — just be sure you do so tastefully.
3. Write for the web.
The format for developing effective online writing is actually pretty similar to that of service journalism pieces. Whether you’re writing opinionated editorials or promotional content, consider these tried-and-true formatting rules for effective web writing.
- Use subheadings, numbered lists and/or bullets to break up information.
- Tell readers exactly what they’re getting with “how-to” guides or Q&As.
- Develop a catchy headline.
- Be concise.
When writing for the web, you should also imbed relevant photos, videos, infographics and links to educational sites. Readers have a short attention span when consuming content online, so visual aids can help attract their attention and then maintain it.
4. Get input from others in your field.
Interviewing other professionals who have a stake in what you’re writing about not only makes your content more diverse but also improves its validity. Sharing others’ stories also allows you to build/maintain professional relationships because you’re showing that you respect their views. Build a dialogue about a certain legal topic by referencing articles others have already written. For example, if a colleague explains one aspect of a subject, you could take on another area and then compare your views.
5. Edit everything you write.
You won’t develop a professional reputation by sharing information that’s laden with misspelled words and other grammatical errors. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if spelling, grammar or word usage aren’t your strengths. Pick up a copy of Working With Words, and read it cover to cover. If you’re not a professional writer, ask your friends or colleagues to proofread every article you write before you publish it. At the very minimum you’ll be able to verify that the article is interesting and understandable.
Implementing genuine and effective writing techniques encourages quality client service in today’s Internet-obsessed communities. Effective, personable and targeted writing can give you a reputation as an industry expert who provides quality information to both colleagues and clients.