As a profession, we lawyers have really mastered the art of writing extremely boring articles. As a group of people that pride ourselves on our written communication skills, I can only assume that this is entirely deliberate. After all, we wouldn’t be living up to our own self-proclaimed expertise in the area if, in fact, it turned out that we were just awful at it.
It Starts With a Boring Headline
It’s important to nail the headline in any legal article.
Specifically, you need to consider the most interesting part of your article – that is, the part of the article that provides the most value, the most intrigue, or offers a glimpse into the most significant pain or desire of your audience.
Then you need to ignore that.
Of course, far more attractive are generic article titles with the name of your firm followed by the name of your workgroup or practice area.
Some of my favourites (and you should feel free to copy these) include:
- Legislative Update to [Area X]
- Latest Cases in [Area Y]
- Bulletin – [Name of Firm]
That way, by shear recognition of the importance of your firm or the name of your practice area, you can be sure that readers who have only 10,000 other options of things to read that day will definitely pick your article.
Next you need an Inappropriate and Irrelevant Picture
Probably the best bet here is to put a stock picture of someone that looks like a lawyer doing something “lawyerly”. After all, that’s going to be relevant to everything you write, and then you needn’t consider the matter any further.
A close second here is just to ensure that your firm’s logo is the featured picture for every article – logos are known to prompt people to read articles the world over.
The final option is you’re a really “progressive” firm (never sure what that means, but it sure sounds good) is to use something abstract. Swirly things, miscellaneous gradients or various shapes with fun colours are pretty much always irrelevant.
Make sure you don’t use too much effort picking your picture – after all, it’s not that important.
Your Content Should Always Resemble a Case Note
There are some essentials for legal updates, irrespective of your topic.
Your opening sentence should, as closely as possible, always be “The recent decision of [insert long citation] provides some insightful commentary about [area of law]”. Of course you can modify if it’s a legislative update, but the pattern should be the same.
Make sure you include the citation – clients always want to have the full citation so they can head over to a legal research site or attend the library at the Court and get a copy of the decision for themselves.
If it’s legislation, please also make sure that you include both the date the bill was passed, and some details about things that happened during the passage of the legislation through the House.
Luckily for us all, there’s a pattern you can follow to ensure that you’re doing the same thing that 65,000 other lawyers are doing, and that’s this:
- Open as I have mentioned above;
- If it’s an appellate decision, set out the facts followed by the finding in the Court below;
- If it’s a piece of legislation – put in something about the bill, whether or not it’s relevant to the final law as passed (maybe the name of the politician who promoted the bill – that’s always relevant to peoples’ lives and businesses);
- Then put in a finding of conclusion of some sort – if there was debate or argument, summarise that;
- Always (without fail) then include a paragraph about “readers should ensure that they do X and not Y”
- After that you should make sure you include a self-serving comment to the effect that “if you need any advice in relation to your [insert area] problems, don’t hesitate to contact [the partner whose name is on the article despite the fact that their clerks wrote it].
In the world of content marketing, I don’t think you can get much better than the process I’ve set out above.
If you have any other tips to ensure that we’re all uniform and unremarkable, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments!