Law firm newsletters are a popular marketing tool among lawyers. A newsletter can be a great way to demonstrate expertise in an area of law, which is a very effective way to attract clients. However, if done poorly, a law firm newsletter could drive away more business than it generates.
Some lawyers hire a legal writing service or a newsletter publisher to create a newsletter, while others insist on writing newsletters within the firm. Either way, lawyers should consider these tips for having an effective law firm newsletter:
Write in Plain English
While that article you wrote for the law review may have been praised by your professor and the three other people who read it, most people find the law review style of legal writing to be indecipherable or unbearably boring.
A common complaint that clients have about their lawyers is that they don't understand what the lawyer is trying to tell them, even when speaking in person. When it is on paper, the problem often gets worse.
Your newsletter should not sound like a supreme court opinion or a legal treatise. The articles need to be simple, straightforward, and written with clarity. Pretend you are a good reporter rather than a lawyer, and see how it changes the readability of your writing.
One of the biggest problems lawyers encounter with their newsletters is that someone has to actually write it. Staying motivated and focused to get each newsletter out on time can be difficult.
Whether you have chosen to send out the newsletter weekly, monthly, or quarterly, make sure to send it out on a consistent basis. Treat newsletter deadlines as seriously as court dates and filing deadlines.
Lawyers who try to work on their newsletter "when they get a chance" don't have a newsletter for very long. Be consistent in sending the newsletter to your readers on a timely basis.
Follow the 3Cs of Newsletter Design
Jacci Howard Bear recommends that all newsletters follow the 3Cs: consistency, conservation (clutter-busting), and contrast:
- Consistency in design unifies the design elements, such as type styles, layout, and graphics.
- Conservation means not wasting space with too many boxes, photos, graphic elements, or excessive fonts.
- Contrast refers to creating visual interest in the newsletter "through size, alignment, color, shape, and other opposites."
Say Something Useful
Just as lawyers tend to write in legalese, they also tend to write about topics that are not interesting to anyone but lawyers. Most people don't really care about the nuances of the latest appellate court rulings in your area of practice.
Appellate court rulings can be a good source of inspiration for newsletter topics, but you should not write case summaries for a law firm newsletter.
Instead, use the issues in the case as a springboard for writing about broader issues affecting your clients and potential clients. Ask a question that would be relevant to your clients, and then answer it for them in the newsletter.
Minimize the Sales Hype
Successful law firm newsletters are the ones that provide information to the readers on practical issues affecting their lives. Most people are not interested in reading page after page of how your law firm won judgments for this or that person, and they are even less interested in reading page after page of client testimonials.
A law firm newsletter needs to have some substance so that people have a reason to read it, share it, and keep a copy of it. It can be effective to include some sales hype but don't overdo it.
People are more responsive to someone who is trying to educate them than to someone who is trying to sell something. Educating readers and demonstrating expertise draws more clients than a never-ending sales pitch.
Invite Readers to Contact the Firm
Every law firm newsletter should have the firm's contact information prominently displayed, with an invitation to readers to call or email for more information.
By making yourself available and offering readers the opportunity to get more information directly from you, the law firm will greatly increase the odds of getting calls from readers of the newsletter.
Lawyers who invite the readers to contact them for more information get a bigger response than those who don't make the offer. Since the entire purpose of the law firm newsletter is to gain new clients, make sure that the readers know that you really want to talk to them.