Law is necessarily a political field. Attorneys’ lives, and their work, are directly affected by the laws passed by state and federal legislatures. But that doesn’t mean your blog should go political. There are pros and cons to taking a stand online.
Attorneys are regularly asked their opinion on the latest political gossip. Whether it is presidential actions, legislative bills, or supreme court decisions, everyone seems to assume lawyers have an position.
But having a private conversation in your office or living room is different than taking a position online. Deciding whether to make political statements on your law blog or social media account depends on your brand, and the issue.
Pro: Political Issues Drive Traffic
When you’re trying to build an online presence, every click counts. Political issues often push trends on social media and in the news. You can take advantage of those trends by writing to the headlines. By blogging about how political issues affect your clients, or your business, and using the popular hashtags on social media, you can tap into the political buzz and drive more readers to your blog.
Con: Divisive Politics Can Drive Away Customers
But many lawyers, in particular, are wary about taking on political issues. They are concerned that taking a public position on a divisive political issue will drive away people who have opposing viewpoints. It is a valid concern. If the topic at issue is unrelated to your business, taking a strong position could dilute your brand and leave potential clients with a bad taste for your work.
Pro: Taking a Stand Can Build a Niche
Politics can sometimes work in your favor, too. If you are building a niche practice, taking a political position can sometimes empower that niche. For example, in the years before Obergefell v Hodges, I decided that I would build a niche in LGBT family law. I assisted with adoptions, drafted known donor contracts and domestic partnership agreements, and represented gay and lesbian parents fighting for custody. To support this niche, I began to blog about LGBT families’ fight for marriage equality. It was political, but it was also intentionally targeted to bring in a particular type of client. And it worked. Now up to a quarter of my clients are LGBT, and when Michigan was forced to recognize same-sex marriage, I was on the forefront of that issue in the courts.
Con: Politics Can Distract From Your Business
Even when you are being intentional about your political blogging, it can sometimes go too far. In the flurry of marriage equality decisions that happened in 2014 and 2015, it became hard for me to blog about anything else and still stay up to date. And that’s a problem. The political aspects of your blog or social media strategy should never overshadow the work you are doing. Make sure politics don’t distract from the core of what you do. Intersperse political posts between more direct content like frequently asked questions or issue explainers.
When Politics Directly Affects Your Work
Even for lawyers who take a hands-off approach to politics, when they directly affect the work you do, it may be time to make an exception. One Legal Linguist client represents injured motorists and their medical providers in no-fault lawsuits. So when the Michigan legislature was considering reforms that would drastically affect the way his firm did its job, he took a stand online. Through a series of clear, direct posts based on his own experience and expertise, he was able to voice his opposition. When paired with an intentional PR campaign, those posts even attracted media attention. He quickly became a public voice against the legislation. By positioning himself as a defender of his clients’ position, he was able to use a potential political threat to his firm to strengthen his brand and build his business.
Using politics to power your web marketing can be a two-edged sword. If done haphazardly it can drive potential clients away and distract from your work. But if done intentionally, it can help you build brand loyalty, and establish you as an expert in your field. Find the balance between using politics and becoming political. It can help set you apart from the rest of the legal field.
Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist. She writes blogs and web content for lawyers and small businesses. If you need help setting the tone for your online content, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.