j-20443So did you hear the latest lawyer joke?  It’s about an attorney who writes a really fascinating legal blog!  But seriously, it’s no joke that law firm blogs choking on “legalese” can make readers “uneasy.”

While blogging can be a terrific law firm marketing tool, legal blog content that doesn’t quickly engage the reader isn’t worth the cyberspace it inhabits – and you’ve only got about two sentences to grab audience attention. Having done legal PR for years and written effective online copy for law firms, my first suggestion to lawyers who write blogs is to make sure they are “speaking” their audience’s language.

Law21 blogger Jordan Furlong, a former journalist whose subjects include law firm web strategies, has identified several reasons why lawyers struggle with content: “Lawyers tend to be painstakingly utilitarian writers—probably because we also tend to be painstakingly utilitarian people… and many lawyers don’t really believe content has much worth beyond its factual value. Lawyers don’t try to write enjoyably or memorably because they don’t see how it matters. Who cares if it’s engaging or not? I’m not paid to be engaging. I’m paid to be right.”

Chances are, you’re not getting paid to blog, but write to raise your profile to prospective clients, provide value to current clients, and perhaps help your readers understand how the law may affect them.

So how do you write compelling legal blog posts that will build your web presence? These few tips that will help you punch up your style to make it user friendly, encourage repeat readership, and generate referrals.

  • Use anecdotes. If a friend were to ask you for legal advice, her or she might first present a scenario.  Use such a story, and write about it as if giving a friend advice. You needn’t be dressed for a courtroom or client meeting while writing your blog, and your writing should reflect that more casual, though professional approach.
  • Imagine you’re speaking to a longtime buddy. Be yourself. Throw in some personality along with the facts. Remember, your audience wants your legal advice because they know and trust you, right?
  • Give them a “how-to.” The majority of online searches commence with a “how to,” much like this blog entry, which is how to write a legal blog. Use practical and easy to understand steps to implement resolutions, perhaps steps they can take prior to contacting their attorney, or materials or information they might provide at the initial consultation that will save them time and money.
  • Give further examples. Provide a description of similar situations and outcomes that illustrate the topic at hand, as long as you protect your client’s identities and specific information. Better still, you can mix and match examples from cases you’ve handled or studied. Help your audience visual a scenario and possible outcome.
  • An ounce of prevention. Your audience will love you all the more if you can help them prevent a situation that may lead to a lawsuit. Protect them from a simple problem, and they’ll be likely consult you when a more complex issues arises.

Successful blogging requires commitment, a certain amount of planning and a desire to write about what you know. Law firm marketing and practice development strategies including blogging can yield measurable results. If you’ve got something to say, say it!