A many-layered approach to legal content writing (and cake)

by Sue Bramall

Law firm marketing consultant Sue Bramall explains the many layered approach which is required when writing legal content for the media and the internet – with a slice of cake – in an article first published on the Knowledge Network.

A sponge cake is a cake, but it is not quite the same as a Victoria sandwich (with its cream filling), or a Sachertorte with its rich chocolate coating, or a carrot cake with its cream cheese frosting.  These extra ingredients transform a mundane sponge cake into something special, something altogether more enticing.

And, so it is with legal content writing.  A legal article is a legal article.  But one set of 800 words is not always as enticing as another.  Would you have been reading this article, if it was called “The problems with legal content writing”?  Probably not.

If you are the PSL charged with producing a newsletter and have to source articles from a number of solicitors around your firm, then you may have to cope with varying quality of material which comes into your inbox.

Some legal articles will be witty, engaging, in plain English and right on the button.  Others will be incomprehensible, full or jargon, tortuous or tedious. Regardless of the quality, very few articles will be written in a way which is designed to maximise the chance of being found in an internet search.

Many solicitors will recognise that drafting an article for marketing purposes is not the same as drafting a contract or pleadings.  If they also acknowledge that they are not a search engine expert, then they are likely to be grateful for you to add some frosting in the way of journalistic flair.

But others will be less enthusiastic and may present an article as “signed off and ready to send out” as a firm signal not to “mess about” with it.  This is often a signal that they do not understand the role that content plays in a digital marketing strategy.

In either case there are a few things that you might consider including in your baking kit to make life easier:

Planning – check the recipe first

Occasionally you might receive an article and wonder why on earth the topic was chosen.  Before someone puts pen to paper, if possible, encourage them to prepare a short synopsis first to outline:

Commissioning – check the ingredients

It can be useful to have two things in your store cupboard:

Editing – check it is baked correctly

Consistency of style is really important, especially if your newsletter comprises articles from several contributors.

Editing – adding the filling & frosting

Even the best drafted legal articles will benefit from some editing for a number of reasons:

Update your recipe book

It is worth having a content policy which pulls all this together in order to ensure high quality and consistent content, and highlights that the content is part of your digital strategy so needs to confirm to a few digital protocols.

Whether or not you enjoy baking, wouldn’t we prefer to offer our clients a Sachertorte rather than a plain sponge?

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by Sue Bramall

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