Compare the Pair: Do clients read your legal updates?

If you're forging a career in law firm marketing you must make a meaningful contribution.

Last week, in A lesson for lawyers in content marketing, I wrote about thought leadership, the highest quality form of content, and how to add value to clients law firms must put some thought into their legal updates.

“Most commercial lawyers boast about how well they understand their clients’ businesses and industries. Yet their legal updates do little more than summarise the latest court decision or legislative amendment. In this way, the only thing they demonstrably understand is the law.

Where’s the thoughtful analysis?

If you want to be a thought leader you must have an opinion and you can’t be afraid to express it.”

This week I’d like to suggest law firm marketers uphold their end of the bargain.

When it comes to content marketing, law firm marketers must make a meaningful contribution, not just process what’s handed to them. What does a meaningful contribution look like? It means you’ll at the very least:

  • Critically assess whether the content is relevant to your target audience and offers value.
  • Make recommendations, if not decisions, about how the content might best be packaged. Should it form part of a larger communication? Is it worthy of standing alone? Should it be produced in writing, as a video, as an infographic? Can it be repurposed?
  • Determine how much work the content needs before it can be released. Editorially, this involves more than just checking for typos and grammatical mistakes. Is the content appropriately structured? Does it include an executive summary or are the key points clearly made? Is it keyword optimised?
  • Manage the scheduling and distribution across channels and platforms.

To illustrate my point, here’s a recent example:

Two firms produce a legal update about a recent High Court decision.

In addition to Firm A issuing its update four weeks earlier, Firm A’s update is superior in every respect.

  • It has a more engaging headline.
  • It’s almost 1,000 words shorter than Firm B’s.
  • It includes subheadings to aid readability.
  • It includes an executive summary (because who has time to read a three-page case note).
  • It’s written in plain English.
  • It contains links (for those who want more information).
Firm A Firm B
Word Length 795 words 1633 words
Date 18 August 19 September
Headline Open Season on Judgment Debts in Bankruptcy Proceedings High Court of Australia considers the circumstances in which a Bankruptcy Court can “go behind” the judgment
Executive  Summary
Yes No
Subheadings Yes No
Links Yes No

Law firm marketing can be a tough gig. While you’re employed because you have certain expertise, it’s sometimes – often, in some firms – a struggle to influence, to negotiate, to persuade. This is especially the case for junior marketers who perhaps don’t have the confidence or credentials to do more than act on instructions.

Marketers must find a way around these challenges. If they don’t, not only will they not succeed, they’ll be miserable failing.