Sunday, March 11, 2012

Getting Comfortable Handing Over the Reins -- Having Help with Writing Your Legal Blog

Many lawyers are perfectionists.  Many other are micro-managers.  In law school, attorneys-in-training are drilled to understand how even a common put in a different position can completely change the meaning of the law and the outcome of the case.  This mindset serves lawyers well when working on behalf of clients.  However, it can also be a hindrance on the business-side of the practice of law, where outsourcing and matters of efficiency have to be factored into the equation.

The law firm content writers on our team run into theses issues each and every day.  We are flexible in our writing approach and adapt depending on the needs of each attorney with whom we are working.  Some prefer a completely hands-off approach and like to check the blog occasionally, provide a bit of feedback, and otherwise be free to devote their time to other tasks.  At the other end of the spectrum, some attorneys have very negative experiences with writing assistants, because they are not truly comfortable ceding any writing control to another.  Of course, having to re-write an entire article received from a law firm ghostwriter is completely counterproductive.  The re-writing occurs for one of two reasons; (1) The quality of the writing is objectively bad; or (2) One finds it impossible to accept a writing style that is different that their own.

Understanding the difference between those two is important, because is signifies either a bad ghostwriter or a need to have a bit more flexibility with a writing assistant.

Each legal content writer at our firm appreciates that no two people write exactly the same way.  Of course, writing is an individual endeavor that is shaped in all of us over the course of our lifetimes.  From the moment we first master the alphabet to the time that we sit down to write the essay portion of the Bar exam, our own writing style is being molded.  The ultimate style that each of us develops is a mix of our own innate abilities, the teachers we've had, the books we've read, the writing tasks we've been forced to complete, and a myriad of other factors.

That individual style influences what words are use and how those words are put together to share an idea.  If thirty people are told to describe the same picture in a paragraph, none of those thirty paragraphs will be identical.  Some may be more similar than others but each will have a slightly different fingerprint.  There is no way of getting around that entirely, and even the best legal blog writers cannot mimic another attorney's style exactly.

In fact, if mimicry is the ultimate goal of a ghostwriting project, then the project is destined to be mediocre.  When expressing a particular idea, every writer is going to have an instant opinion about how that idea should be expressed.  That natural reaction can be checked and altered, but it will come at a cost.  Trying to change one's natural writing style is like writing with your less dominant hand.  You can get better at it over time, but in virtually all cases the finished product will not be as good as it otherwise would have been.

In short: we urge all those considering having help with legal blog writing to understand their own perfectionist writing tendencies.  Our writers do this work specifically because they are capable of writing well about the law.  There are many ways to alter the tone, topics, and structure of an assignment to meet different preferences.  But at the end of the day the particular style of the legal writer will still shine through.  That is a good thing!

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Refresher: Blog is Just Shorthand for Content

The Stagnant Blog--Worse Than No Blog At All

(Photo Courtesy of Alan Cleaver)

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