Recently, a marketing company asked me to take over writing the blog posts for one of its clients, a law firm that specializes in construction law. According to my contact, while their marketers are “quick to learn, they are not legal experts, and our client has made the comment they need to spend more time than they would like to with revisions.”
What I thought was, “Duh. You’ve hired a group of non-lawyers to write posts that sound like they were written by an expert in construction law.”
What I said was, “It sounds like you have an issue with this client’s expectations.”
Outsourcing Your Legal Blog is Not a ‘Set-it-and-Forget-it’ Endeavor
It’s impractical to expect third-party marketers to write as if they are lawyers. Just like clients hire lawyers because we can effectively help them with their legal problems, we hire marketers because they have expertise in marketing. They probably didn’t go to law school, and definitely haven’t spent years focusing on any area of law for 40-plus hours a week.
Additionally, each legal specialty has its own jargon and rules that are unfamiliar to outsiders. It will take time for even the brightest marketers and copywriters to build up their knowledge base so they can write more efficiently.
What to Expect When Outsourcing Your Legal Blog
If you want to outsource any aspect of your content marketing — blog posts, social media posts, videos — expect to have an ongoing dialogue with your marketing team. At the beginning of your relationship, your marketing team will need a crash course in your area of law.
Here’s my recommendation:
As part of the onboarding process, schedule three two-hour meetings with your marketing team. The first meeting will be more of an academic lecture where you will teach your marketing team about your area of law. The other two meetings are for you to talk with your marketing team about the most common questions you address for clients and your most profitable case (because let’s face it, the ultimate goal of marketing is to make money). Regardless of whether you meet in person or over a videoconferencing platform, record these sessions. These will be an incredible resource for the marketing team because they will have valuable industry-related knowledge as well as information about how you speak (which will make it easier for them to write in your voice).
Even with extensive onboarding, you should still expect to have regular conversations with your marketers to provide further information about specific situations or changes in the law. This will be an ongoing collaborative process, and a two-way street. You’ll be providing them with legal information, and in return, they’ll be making you sound more human and approachable.
There Will Always Be Revisions
Even if you hire the best legal marketers on the planet, schedule time to review and provide feedback for every single blog post. There’s a reason why the answer to every legal question starts with “It depends.” With so many nuances in the law, and likely their goal of translating your legalese into a narrative a prospective client can understand, you should expect your marketing team to periodically misunderstand or misstate the law. Remember, you’re the expert, and they’re doing the best they can.
At my firm, I’ve written many blog posts about patent law, even though I don’t practice this area of law. (I practice other areas of intellectual property.) It’s not uncommon for the patent lawyers to revise my work to be more accurate. On the flip side, I regularly revised their blog posts saying, “Joe Average people won’t understand that.”
Sometimes the revision may be something stylistic. For example, in my early days as a solo practitioner, I supplemented my income by writing personal injury and DUI blog posts for a lawyer. In a draft for a post, I used the word “thus” or “hence,” and she sent it back, telling me to change it because it was a word she never uses.
Can You Outsource Your Blog to Another Lawyer?
Could you avoid most of these issues by hiring a legal writer instead of a marketing company? You could try to find someone, but if there’s someone who could be the ghostwriter for our nearly set-it-and-forget-it blog, I would wonder why that person isn’t doing it for themselves.
Assuming this person exists, it won’t be cheap to engage them for their services. A quality legal blog writer is easily worth $1 per word.
Lawyers have asked me if they can outsource their blog to a law student. A law student may have a less steep learning curve, but there will still be one, because they’re not a legal expert. Additionally, unless you hire a law student who went to law school after a successful marketing career, they may not have the marketing expertise you need to make your blog a success.
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