Get Writing!

AuthorNeil Guthrie
chapter one
Get Writing!
The f‌irst email tip to my gentle readers was simple: get writing! Or,
more to the point, get blogging and posting to social media.
Blogged content has high visibility and much higher readership
than content that is distributed by email. Unless you have a very tar-
geted and well-maintained email distribution list, it’s unlikely that
a publication sent by email will be opened (much less read) by more
than 5 percent of its recipients.
Contrast that with material that is posted on a blog, which can
easily get views in the four digits. Blog posts also have the advantage
of being picked up by aggregators (Lexology, Mondaq) and can be
reposted to LinkedIn and JD Supra, which widens your readership
even further. By way of example, Lexology’s analytics once told me that
a blog post of mine had been read by someone in the airport lounge in
Perth, Australia. (The poor sod must have been at a loose end.)
Lest you doubt the power of social media, after I posted a short
announcement on LinkedIn that I was publishing this book, the post
was viewed nearly 8,400 times (I had only about 1,300 people in my
network at the time), and it received lots of “likes” and comments.
Let’s hope all the viewers buy a copy.
So, what to post about? R ecent developments in the law, of course,
but give them a prac tical spin . Don’t just announce some new
decision or leg islation explain why it’s relevant t o your clients or
Guthrie's Guide to Better Legal Writing
potential cl ients. Give your perspect ive on industry t rends or market
developments. A fresh t ake on things i s more likely to attra ct readers.
There are a lot of lawyers out there, and writing something that
will resonate with existing and potential clients is a great way to build
your prof‌ile, demonstrate your abilities, and advertise your services.
The law, for starters but there is a bit more to it than that.
Here are some suggestions, adapted from the Law Society of
Upper Canada’s (now known as the Law Society of Ontario) A Guide
to Business Development for Women Lawyers (they are equally applic-
able to men):1
zChoose your topic carefully
%Write about something you actually practise, know about, or
want to develop as an area of specialization.
%Don’t allow people to think you’re an expert on the basis of
one article.
zRecycle old work
%A memo for a f‌ile could be the basis of a client piece, but:
be careful to remove any information that could identify
your client;
strip out technical terms, footnotes, and citations; and
make sure you bring things up to date.
%The same piece can (within reason) be published in more
than one place, often with only minor adjustments.
zGet your piece in front of the right audience
%A legal journal, magazine, or newspaper may be read by
other lawyers but not by business people.
%Think about industry/trade publications or general news
outlets you have a better chance of being read by non-
lawyer clients.
1 The Justicia Project Business Development Working Group, A Guide to Business
Development for Women Lawyers (Toronto: The Law Society of Upper Canada,
2013), online:
Chapter One: Get Writing!
zA descriptive piece on recent developments in a particular area
of law is always good, should be easy to write, and can get
broad readership.
zBe timely
%Publish as quickly as you can on breaking developments,
but don’t sacrif‌ice care in thinking, writing, fact-checking,
vetting by someone more senior, editing, and proofreading.
zInclude a picture and brief bio
%Your piece should be accompanied by a professional head-
shot wherever possible.
%Include a short bio (short!); bonus marks if you can be dis-
tinctive without being gimmicky.
%Link to appropriate social media (LinkedIn prof‌ile, maybe
your Twitter handle, but not Instagram or Facebook).
%If you’re writing for an external publication, add a disclaimer
that the views expressed are your own and not necessarily
your employer’s, and do not constitute legal advice.
zOther ideas
%What challenges are your clients facing? How do other
industries cope with similar challenges? Tell a story based
on real examples.
%What are the current trends in an industry or area of law
you know about?
%What kinds of questions have you been getting from clients
or readers?
%Avoid writing about “developments” that aren’t really new
(“Court rearms long-standing common-law rule that. . .”),
even if this seems like a way to keep in front of your public
(they’ll lose interest).
%What have you read lately, and what can you add? (But don’t
be catty about other people or present law as a world of
insiders commenting on each other.)
%What interests you about your practice area? (But remember
that not everyone may share your enthusiasm for the law of
drainage — you may have to make that interesting for other
people, or at least explain why it might actually be important
to them.)

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