Recently a business development expert on a popular attorney blog came to the realization that writing can actually generate revenue. But writing for business development is not a new idea. It’s all about where you post, and who you are writing for.
In “Writing Your Way to New Business” Sally J. Schmidt of Attorney at Work begrudgingly admitted that writing can, in fact, result in highly-qualified legal work. She said:
“There was a time not that long ago when I counseled lawyers not to spend too much time writing and publishing articles. Back then, they were largely passive, short-lived marketing efforts. Today, however, as clients conduct their own internet research to find legal counsel, having substantive content available for prospective clients to find is invaluable — if you do it right.”
She goes on to acknowledge that writing can be used to establish your reputation as a subject matter expert, and draw attention to you and your firm.
Her realization came in speaking to a coaching client (“Lawyer A”) who received business after a competitor (“Lawyer B”) read an article he had published on an issue related to a case. Lawyer B’s firm decided to hire Lawyer A to represent them, rather than handling it internally, after finding that he was a subject matter expert in the field.
The idea that you can use writing for business development is not a new idea. Lawyers have been contributing to local newspapers, magazines, and bar journals for decades. Now that the Internet has replaced the phone book as the go-to place to find legal professionals, writing has become even more important to developing a successful brand.
Blogging Establishes You as an On-the-Spot Expert
Web users who find their way to your firm’s website are looking for answers. Creating a content-rich blog that addresses potential clients’ questions and their problems can convert browsers to closed business. These articles should be short, focused, to the point, and written clearly without legalese. They are targeted at your ideal client, and written in ways that appeal to their needs.
Newspapers and Magazine Articles Provide Wide Reach
If you are trying to grow your reputation in the public eye, you need a wider reach than most lawyer websites provide. What many attorneys don’t realize is that trade and issue-specific publications are often eager for content written by lawyers. For example, if you do real estate law, you may be able to write an article about changes in the legal field that mortgage lenders need to know. It will give you a broad reach within your target industry.
Professional Journals Lead to Cross-Referrals
The deepest dive into writing for professional development comes when attorneys publish in professional publications, like state bar journals or continuing legal education. These articles let you delve deeply into a very specific area of law. It shows your colleagues within the industry that you truly are a subject matter expert who can handle their toughest referrals. This is what happened for Schmidt’s “Lawyer A”. Journal articles must be thoroughly researched and properly cited, which means they can take far longer to write. But they can establish you as a niche expert that fellow attorneys can trust with their clients.
If writing for professional development is one of your marketing priorities, you can make the most of your efforts by combining blogs, articles, and journal publications. This mix will help you reach web browsers, industry professionals, and fellow attorneys, and build your business within your preferred niche market.
Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist in Ferndale, Michigan. She provides ghost-writing and editorial services for lawyers and small business. If you need help establishing your expertise online, contact Legal Linguist to schedule a meeting.