A good legal content writer can be hard to find, especially if you don’t have the resources to hire high-end legal experts. On one hand, you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on content marketing, but you definitely don’t want inaccurate or low-quality copy. The legal industry is unique and has specific parameters for writing content. A talented writer will understand the technical side of legal copy but will present it in a way that’s easy to read
Additionally, writers have to find a way to work in your firm’s strengths, brand personality, and, let’s not forget, geographically-specific keywords. Clearly then, a good legal copywriter has to wear many hats. With all this in mind, it can seem daunting to find a competent legal copy writer without going over budget. It’s completely possible; just keep the following in mind.
Knowing How to Manipulate Reading Habits
Content writers are a readily available resource, but not all have the required skill set for legal writing. Legal content writers must have the ability to translate complex legalese into a narrative story that’s easy to digest. This is a talent in and of itself. When potential clients visit your page, they usually don’t have a very firm grasp on law practices. It’s your content writer’s job to deliver information to them in simple terms.
But, like all online content, engagement counts. If content is not easy to read and engaging, you risk losing clients in the short amount of time they spend on your page. On average, a visitor only stays on a webpage for roughly eight seconds. In fact, most people don’t even read content. Rather, they scan over it quickly to pick up important words and phrases. A content writer knows this. When we write legal copy, we optimize it for scanning. This means:
- Using headlines and subheadings to break up white space and draw readers in.
- Using bulleted lists (like this one) to deliver key facts in bite-sized portions.
- Using clear, straightforward language.
- Defining legal terms with succinct summaries.
A content writer may use a bulleted list to describe laws governing a specific practice or to break down a complex explanation of a legal concept. For example, in personal injury law, a bulleted list is great for explaining how negligence is proven. It’s also a handy way to describe damage types in a personal injury suit.
What to look for: Look at other content that has been published by the writer or marketing company. Does the writer do a good job bringing your eye around the page? Did he or she break up content into digestible pieces? Did you learn anything important while scanning the page?
Using Keywords the RIGHT Way
Legal copy is tricky. A lot of legal copy tends to be heavily focused on keywords and other SEO practices. While this is great for bringing visitors to your site, it doesn’t engage them. Legal copy should be written with your audience in mind. Search engine robots analyze how you use keywords in your copy, as do your readers.
When readers encounter an awkward arrangement of keywords in a subheading or the body of text, it turns them off. Use these phrases sparingly and correctly, for both your readers and the pesky search robots. A good content writer will incorporate keywords intelligently while providing your audience with valuable information. If he or she is really good, your readers won’t even notice the hidden keywords strategically used throughout the page.
What to look for: Here’s a little game you can play while reading sample content. Try to identify the keywords the writer was asked to use. See if you can count how many times the keywords were used throughout the text, or if you can detect them at all. Do they fit naturally, or do they seem awkward and clunky?
Making Your Site Copy Valuable
To reiterate, valuable content is extremely important for legal copy. It’s essential to content marketing in general, but even more so in the legal industry. Your potential clients may be going through a stressful time in their lives, whether they’re divorcing, have recently been injured, or are making end-of-life estate plans. They want helpful information. Your website has to deliver.
The average person doesn’t know where to start when filing for divorce. Most people don’t know they can get compensation for an injury in some states, even if the accident is partially their fault. And I’m willing to bet very few people outside the legal industry know what a pain multiplier is (except us content writers). These things need to be explained to your readers, and they need to be explained in a way they understand. A good legal copy writer will research and analyze this information, and then translate it into something readable.
What to look for: Someone who is “legally bilingual.” A writer who can quickly research complex concepts, break them apart, and re-work them into his or her own words.
Writing in the Correct Voice for the Right Audience
Your brand voice and your firm’s strengths are what make your business unique. Your content should reflect this. While most law firms adhere to a polished and professional brand voice, there are still ways to show industry expertise without sounding dry. Part of a legal copy writer’s job is to inject your voice into said copy.
We do this by analyzing your website. Are you a small, family-owned law firm? Do you offer your clients a highly personalized approach? What type of people do you represent? Maybe you are an estate planner for people with high incomes who need wealth management. Or perhaps you work with blue collar workers who may have been injured in a construction accident. Our job as legal copy writers is to keep your end clients in mind when writing, which strengthens how your firm (and its voice) is perceived.
What to look for: An ability to adapt to a variety of voices. Does the writer have experience writing in a casual tone and a professional one? Does the content clearly exude that voice or does it seem bipolar? See if you can clearly envision the audience the writer was targeting when creating the piece. If you can, the writer did his or her job.
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