“Don’t I have to do my own writing? Can you guys do that?”
I’ve heard this question from lawyers many times over the years, and I get it. Although I had practiced law, before I started writing for lawyers, I didn’t know that there were writers who could have helped me write and publish more.
So I’m here to say: Yes! We can do it. You don’t have to do all your own writing.
What could an outsourced writer do for me?
There are many types of writing that a freelance writer can help you with, including everything from blog posts to customer alerts, newsletters, signed articles, and white papers. What you ask them to do will depend on their skills, level of legal experience, and how much you trust them.
Working with an outsourced writer is like a clerk drafting opinions for a judge. The clerk and judge review the material, the judge describes how they want to rule and why, and the clerk writes a detailed opinion, does the necessary research, and communicates with the judge in the process. The judge reviews the work, provides feedback, and makes edits to make sure it aligns with their thinking. The decision is the judge’s ideas, written (mostly) by someone else.
So let’s say you’ve found a writer and want to collaborate with them to create some of this “content” or “thought leadership” you keep hearing you need to produce (something you want to do in theory but have trouble completing in practice).
How to work with a writer to produce content.
- Take a test. When working with a writer for the first time, start with a small project and see how you do. It will take time to build a relationship, trust each other, and figure out the best way to work together. Starting small gives them a chance to show what they can do, their process, and adapt to their voice and style that suits their brand and target audience.
- Communicate. This may seem obvious, but communication makes all the difference. If I’m writing something for a specific attorney or practice, I prefer to communicate directly with them. The marketing team can introduce me, they can keep up, they can move things forward, but if I don’t speak directly to the lawyers involved, things get lost in translation. Hearing an attorney’s voice, tone, and word choice firsthand allows me to better replicate that in my writing and leads to a more successful and efficient process for the attorney.
- Give directions. You are the author of this work and, as such, you must guide the writer. Depending on the piece of writing, your content strategy, and your relationship with your writer, sometimes you might suggest a title or topic, sometimes you might give a detailed summary of the article, or some references or sources. Some writers will suggest topics for your writing, especially if you’re working with a digital marketing agency that can monitor trends in your practice area and design a content calendar for you.
However, if you are creating thought leadership, your article should be based on your thoughts. The writer will fill in the details, structure the piece, and write it in his voice, in a readable style, but the ideas must come from you. For more sophisticated legal content, many lawyers feel more comfortable if the writer is a lawyer. And yes, we writers/lawyers do exist!
- Give opinion. This is especially important at the beginning. Even great writers won’t pick up your voice on the first few tries. It takes time. How do they know which style you prefer? Through feedback. Track the changes and bookmark that document. We are professionals, we can take it. Keep in mind that hearing what we’re doing well is also important, not because we’re insecure artists (moi?), but because it increases our ability to capture your voice in the future.
- Plan. As you think about what type of content you want to create, think about who you want to reach: current clientele, prospects, others? Who are you reaching already? What topics do you like to write about? What information and experience do you want to share?
Brainstorm with your writer and bring in your marketing team, whether in-house or outsourced. Making a coordinated content and marketing strategy increases the return on your investment of time and money. Your marketing team can also help you find the best outlets for your content and repurpose your awesome content across multiple platforms. Click here for LISI’s 2023 Content Calendar Template.
We delegate and outsource personal and professional tasks for many reasons. I buy my children’s birthday cakes at the local bakery. I could spend a few hours in the kitchen after finishing all my billable work and other work tasks, but I’d rather relax or spend time with my kids, and frankly, we all prefer cake from the bakery.
Outsourced writing is not that different. We know that if you are a lawyer, you can write. But is this kind of writing the best way to spend your time, or can you describe your child’s love of Star Wars and the color blue to a professional, and let them bake that cake for you?