Sunday, March 4, 2012

Law Firm Blog Topics -- No Size Fits All

As legal ghost writers we work with attorneys in wildly different practice areas, geographic locations, firms sizes, personal styles, and the like.  Even a cursory look at our work makes clear that there is certainly not a "standard" way to write a law firm blog.  Most notably, potential topics for the blog--which is the most important aspect of the process--run the gamut.  There is not necessarily one "right" way for a blog to develop.

This presents some challenges from our perspective.  Many lawyers contact us for help and, rightly, expect us our legal content writers to explain in detail the exact right way that they should use their blog.  Of course, we have very clear thoughts about ways that the blog can be used--and we create content toward that end--but our way isn't necessarily the only way.   This is most true when it comes to topic selection.  Search engine optimization, for example, does include some pretty clear rules which should be followed by every firm in their blog writing.  However, SEO does not say all that much about what the content should actually be about.  When it comes to actual topic ideas, there are several ways to make it work.

As we have previous written, there is a difference between a "law firm blog" and a "lawyer blog."  Each suggests a different tone to the posts and basic writing style.  Beyond that, however, each kind of blog can come from a range or combination of perspectives.  Here, in no particular order, are a few main topic styles that we have seen, written, and know can work.  Which one is best for your firm and blog depends a lot on your own personality, practice area, and perspective.

1) Legal Analysis:  Of course, this is what some blog gurus think is the "only" way to successfully use a blog.  Legal analysis focuses mostly on case summarizes--describing hot legal issues, explaining the current perspectives, and taking a stand one way or another.  On one hand legal analysis topics are great at presenting the attorney in a sophisticated light--making it easy for potential clients to feel like that are contacting a hought leader in the area.  However, these posts are much harder for potential clients to actually understand and, in reality, the specifics are often ignored.
2) General Interesting Information: These posts are essentially the exact opposite of the legal analysis posts.  General interest posts may not actually touch on the law much at all.  For example, a personal injury lawyer who takes brain injury cases may talk about a new research study that was just released which offers hope for treatments or diagnosis in TBI victims.  The post itself may say nothing about how this might affect a TBI legal case.  However, potential clients will likely be interested to follow along with this information.  These posts make clear that the attorney cares about the things that the client cares about even outside the law itself. 
3) Firm News: Many firms use the blog primarily to comment on issues directly related to the firm itself--discussing cases that are underway, referring back to old issues, and even discussing basic office protocol and policy. The main downside with this perspective is that this material  is often best when posted permanently as a new static page on a firm website.  In addition, firms that view their blog only through this lens often fail to update with new posts as much as necessary. 
4) Basic Primers: Straddling the line between firm news and legal analysis, many firms create posts that are summaries of basic legal issues.  This differs from legal analysis in that these posts do not necessarily touch on hot topics or controversial issues.  Instead, they are generic outlines about how a certain legal process works.  In this way they are probably the most interesting type of post for searching potential clients.  However, as with firm news, sometimes this information is better utilized as a static content page on a firm website rather than a dynamic blog.

Our law firm ghostwriters do not believe that any one of these perspectives is better than any other.  Some firms may have various reasons for liking one over the other.  Usually, the best bet is to include a mixture of all of them.

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