ven when lawyers understand the importance of educational content for their blog & Web sites, they do not publish much on their site because they feel it is too hard to do so. Lawyers look at sites chock full of educational content and go “Wow! I could never do anything like that.” Do not sell yourself short.
First look internally for educational content. Your law firm may already be producing written information that could be readily converted into content for your site.
Lawyers may already have:
- Newsletters published on hard copy (as opposed to on the net or by email) that they distribute by regular mail. Future copies should be distributed digitally by email newsletter. Past and future copies should be archived on your Web site.
- Memorandum or bulletins sent to clients by mail updating clients on important changes in the law. Ask all lawyers in the firm if they have done so recently.
- Recently prepared materials for a seminar or conference at which a lawyer may have spoke.
- Research performed in an interesting area of the law. Ask all lawyers in the firm if they have done a recent letter or brief summarizing such research, the subject of which may be of interest to current and prospective clients. Even notes could be converted into content without too much trouble.
- Message board or listserv posts. A lawyer in the firm may regularly participate in a listserv or message board. Posts, with little editing, could be added to your site.
This may take a little cooperation or pounding of heads to get internal content to your Web site. Everyone in the firm needs to understand:
- Each time a lawyer in the firm prepares material for the general public or other lawyers, they should be forwarded to the person who updates the firm’s site. Lawyers tend not to follow through on this so get all secretaries, assistants and paralegals to do so.
- When lawyers are producing any written copy, whether as part of their practice or for outside publication they need to think how this same material could be used for the firm’s site. Lawyers should certainly not alter a document being created as part of litigation or transactional work for purposes of Web site publication. However, lawyers when doing the work should think of how the content may be useful for your site.
- It does not take much time to convert certain documents into something that is ‘consumer or business person friendly’ for the site. It could be as little as eliminating the facts and lengthy citations in a brief or memorandum.
- A lawyer is not needed to convert legal copy into Internet copy. Generally, your intended audience is not lawyers. A non-lawyer who does not speak like a lawyer may be better equipped to do Web copy. A law firm staff person, law student clerk or a jourmalism student from a state University may be the best bet.
Second look for external content that lawyers in the firm are reading or should be reading on a regular basis to monitor developments in their field. This content though not readily available to prospective clients, may be of interest to them. Where do you get such content?
- Trade magazines or newsletters.
- Bar association or bar section magazines or newsletters.
- National Law Journal or Lawyers Weekly.
- Law.com newsletters (daily summary is free, detailed copy by subscription).
- Local business journals (bizjournals.com allows subscription to daily local summaries & weekly topical summaries).
- Wall Street Journal (wsj.com) and New York Times (nytimes.com) daily email alerts
Keep these points in mind when using external content:
- Follow all copyright laws, including giving attribution and link if appropriate, to the source of the content.
- It is not necessary to rehash the external content. A summary of one or two sentences is all that is needed when you can link to the Web site where you read the article or newsletter.
- If you are reading copy off line, check to see if it is available online and better yet if you can subscribe to email newsletters or alerts. This way you can store the copy on your computer in an email box as opposed to in a stack on your floor until you have a minute to read it.
When looking for educational content do the best you reasonably can. All you are trying to do is share information you believe helpful or of interest to your Web site audience. Use your common sense, take your time and you’ll be surprised with a little effort your blog or Web site will begin to look like one of the those sites that made you say “Wow!”