Article Writing Can Drive Law Firm Marketing Success

Article writing is an excellent law firm marketing strategy for many attorneys, especially if the thought of making a speech causes you to break out in a cold sweat. Getting your name in print as an author provides the equivalent of an independent third-party endorsement of your legal expertise. Corporate general counsel, among others, frequently contact attorneys based on published articles.

If time constraints are holding you back from article writing, consider testing artificial intelligence software to create your first draft. If you have not used AI already, it can be surprisingly effective in generating key talking points that you can then refine to reflect your style and message.

There are many places that you can get an article published, including:

  • State bar newsletters or journals
  • National bar associations like the ABA
  • Specialized legal associations (employment law, immigration law, etc.)
  • National or regional industry associations
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Legal publishers (Law360, Thomson Reuters, JDSupra, etc.)
  • Letters to the Editor

Try to become acquainted with the editors of legal and industry publications in your field of practice. Some potential ways of establishing a relationship are through email, meetings at an industry conference, or through a third-party introduction. Having a direct connection with editors can facilitate your publishing campaigns.

Here are some guidelines for your article placement efforts:

Article Writing for Law Firm MarketingFirst, select your topic. You can gain rapid visibility by focusing on subjects that challenge the status quo. Consider topics on pending or newly adopted legislation, controversial industry trends, standards-setting activities, or similar issues that your audience needs to understand in order to protect their interests, avoid litigation, and/or save money.

Second, spend some time researching current literature to identify the best “angle” for your article. Evaluate other articles written on the same or a similar topic and determine how your article can be positioned so that it will stand apart. Think of the challenges facing your intended audience, and structure your article to offer helpful legal insight.

Third, determine the approach that works best for the material you intend to cover. Here are a few article formats proven to capture audience attention:

  • Top 5 reasons to …
  • 10 mistakes to avoid …
  • 7 steps to achieve …
  • The pros and cons of …
  • An interview with …

Always include an “About the Author” section at the end of your article. This should identify your name, firm, practice area and an email address where you can be reached.

Fourth, select and prioritize three or four potential publications for your article, focusing on those that you know will welcome outside submissions. Submission guidelines are normally available on the publisher’s website. Read these carefully before writing the editor and acknowledge your understanding of the requirements in your correspondence. Pay special attention to the word count, due date, publication cycle, and use of footnotes.

Write a friendly email to the editor of the most ideal outlet on the list. Describe the proposed article in no more than three paragraphs and ask if they have an interest in publishing it. Allow at least one week for a response. Some journals actually follow a lengthy peer review process, in which case you may need to submit a completed article. A peer-review may take weeks or months. If you do not hear from the editor in a reasonable time period, try a phone call or send a follow up email.

If the first publication turns you down, or simply does not respond after two or more outreach efforts on your part, move on to the next one on your list. Editors usually want fresh material, so do not attempt to publish the same article in more than one place without an editor’s knowledge.

If writing is not your strong suit, or you simply do not have the time, consider engaging the services of a younger associate or a fellow professional to convert the outline of your article idea into a full-length composition and list them as a co-author.

Once you submit your finished article, a good editor is likely to suggest some changes to your headline or copy. Do not be offended. Keep in mind that the editor has the final say over what is published. If you feel strongly that any modifications will change the meaning of your message in a significant way, speak candidly with the editor. Some editors will give you a chance to rewrite a portion of your article if they feel it is unclear or needs further explanation.

Finally, understand your publishing “rights.” You basically grant your publisher “first rights” to your article. Ask your editor in advance about reprint rights (print and electronic) once your article is published.

Once your article is in print (and not before then), be sure to mail your article to clients and prospects as a means of staying in touch and reinforcing your reputation as an authority in the field. Proudly add your new article to your CV and post it on your website also.

If your article is lengthy or offers particularly detailed information, consider posting the first third of the article for public consumption on your website. You can identify choice prospects by requesting that website visitors who want to read the full article complete a brief sign-up form online prior to gaining access to the full article.

Any time is a good time to begin your article writing campaign. Start now! Young attorneys who publish on a regular basis will enjoy career-long benefits of visibility, an expanded prospect base, and possibly a faster track to the coveted partnership level.

Article writing can be just the start of a successful law firm marketing campaign. You can leverage your articles by compiling them into a book or republishing them in your law firm newsletter.

The author invites your feedback and is available to provide suggestions on article writing that can help you accelerate your business development efforts.

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Contact Margaret Grisdela, a legal marketing consultant, at 561-266-1030 or via email. Connect with Margaret Grisdela on LinkedIn.

Law firm marketing consultant Margaret Grisdela, president of Legal Expert Connections, Inc.

Margaret Grisdela

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