For lawyers, writing legal briefs, memoranda, and motions may be second nature at this point. Blog posts, on the other hand, can seem like a daunting new area of writing if you’re not sure where to begin.
Luckily, LexBlog’s successful bloggers have all but mastered writing a solid blog post and have an abundance of valuable advice to give on the topic. They’ve joined us on various episodes of This Week in Legal Blogging with Bob Ambrogi to share their blogging success stories and offer advice for aspiring legal bloggers.
Keep it short!
While there are exceptions, most blog posts should be relatively short and consumable. Big blocks of text may scare away a potential reader, so headers and images are a great way to space things out.
Jamie LaPlante of Ohio Employment Law Matters stresses keeping things concise: “I like to keep them as something that someone can digest on their cell phone, something that someone can scroll through and decide ‘Does this even matter to me?’ or ‘Do I wanna read this really in-depth?'”
Lawyers often write for other lawyers, and it’s no secret that they’re usually busy, consuming a lot of content day in and day out already. Francis Pileggi of Delaware Corporate & Commercial Litigation Blog uses bullets to consolidate things.
“The last thing they [lawyers] want to do is read a lengthy case summary. More recently within the last year or two or more, I’ve been basically providing highlights—bullet points. These are the key bullet points, the takeaways from this case,” Pileggi says. “Busy lawyers, I think, find that valuable because that’s what they want to know. Why is this case important?”
It’s essential to let the reader know what you’ll be speaking on, so they can decide if they want to read it: “I not only say what I’m going to write about, but I tell the reader right up front what I’m going to say about it. I’m going to tell you why I think it’s an important decision or why this changes things,” Kevin LaCroix of the D&O Diary says. “That way, the reader knows whether it’s worth taking the time to read the rest of the post.”
More conversational tone
The audience for a lot of law blogs is the general public. While you may sometimes want to write for other lawyers and assume they have a basic understanding of a law, writing for a broader audience means you should speak more informally.
Scott Key is one such advocate of writing conversationally, while still demonstrating your knowledge on the topic: “In doing a law blog, you want to be informal and relatable—but I think you want to write with some authority as well.”
A blog post also allows you to be more creative and entertaining than the formality of a law review: “What I learned is writing for a general audience, writing as a bit of an entertainer instead of a purveyor of knowledge is not the same as writing for a judge,” Charles Sartain of Energy & the Law says. “You’ve got 600 words. We’re talking Ernest Hemingway here, not William Faulkner. It’s got to be really to the point because they won’t stick around otherwise. I try to put some personality and humor into it.”
And please, no footnotes
One of the many upsides of blogging is that there is no need for footnotes. A blog post is much more informal and if you’re citing information, you can simply hyperlink it.
“That’s partly the wonders of hyperlinks. You can bury a lot of accessible information into a hyperlink as you continue to blog,” Angelo Paparelli of Nation of Immigrators says. “And so, it avoids the usual legal trappings of footnotes.”
In short, when writing a blog post, try to make it interesting, to-the-point, and relatively informal.