Writing articles regularly that are published in legal journals is one of the things that every lawyer knows they should do but few actually do. That’s too bad. Writing articles that are read by colleagues (and potential referral sources) gives an estate planning attorney an advantage in a crowded field. By positioning yourself as the authoritative source, you elevate your practice and your own abilities above the rest.
Let’s say you’ve committed to writing two articles a year. That will be a great start. Here are some suggestions:
Don’t go it alone. If you have an excellent associate in the office, they will welcome the opportunity to have a byline. This will also make it more likely that the article will be written and submitted to a publication.
Write it first or pitch it first? Two schools of thought. One is to write an article, then send it to the outlet you think will be interested. Only send to ONE publication at a time. A managing editor of a major legal publication once told us, “just write it, and send it.” They hear pitches all day long, but often the pitch isn’t followed by an article. Other people prefer to send a three page proposal to an editor, and then write the article only when the proposal has been accepted.
Make it worthwhile for your audience. If you write an in-depth review of an estate planning tool that is so rarely used, even if you know more about it than anyone in the world, who will find that compelling reading? Make sure that the topic you select will be worth reading.
Don’t give away the entire store. It’s a fine line, but don’t give everything away in the article. Leave your reader wanting to know more, or needing to call you if they run into a situation that is discussed in your article. After all, the purpose of the article is to generate new work, not to be a “how to” guide for your competition.
Leverage, leverage, leverage. In a digital world where content is king, make sure that you have the publisher’s permission to use it once it has appeared, whether it is in print or online. Post a blog about the article’s publication, link to it from your social media sites, and share the news of its publication with your clients. Write it once, promote it often.