Join us for this week’s rainmaking recommendation from trainer and coach, Jaimie Field.
In Rainmaking Recommendation #249, I explained that two of the best tactics you could use were public speaking and writing for showcasing your knowledge. And while that Rainmaking Recommendation delved into public speaking, this one dives into writing.
As attorneys, we are trained as writers. Literally. I don’t know any law school that doesn’t have a required legal writing class where we learn to write outlines, create briefs, develop interrogatories, and parse statutes, etc. But, that type of writing is usually written in a language that most people do not understand – “legalese.”
Okay, so legalese is not an actual language, but it is something that, as lawyers, we get used to writing. Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute (LII) says that legalese:
“refers to specialized terminology and phrasing used by those in the legal field and within legal documents. Legalese is notoriously difficult for the public to understand. Key features of classic legalese include long, wordy, complicated sentence structures utilizing passive voice and obsolete formalisms, and the usage of Latin, archaic, or unnecessarily long words when simpler and clearer language exists.”
Now, before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to use writing for Rainmaking purposes, it does behoove us to understand that there are reasons we still use these archaic words and complicated sentence structures for legal writing. An article written a few years ago by Jedidiah Bo Bingham, founding and managing partner of the law firm, Bingham Snow Caldwell, LLP, gave a few great reasons why we still use legalese in the profession amongst them is that:
“Legalese” is one way a skilled lawyer can make a document more concise while also protecting the client from future battles over word-meanings. Certain words and phrases have very specific meanings in the legal context. Some of these are Latin terms originating from legal matters decided on the other side of the world more than a hundred years ago.
Using the Latin phrase . . . can greatly simplify things. Judges know exactly what these phrases mean and there is less room for imaginative interpretations from even the most “creative” lawyers. In other words, what many call “legalese” can be the quickest and most succinct way to convey a specific meaning or idea.”
But as said above – it is “notoriously difficult for the public to understand.” This is why when you are writing (or speaking) for business development, you have to use plain English.
Writing for Business Development:
There are a variety of places where you can publish your work for business development:
- Third-Party Websites
- Guest Blogs
- Legal Publications
And while each place offers an opportunity to showcase your knowledge in writing, there are slight differences between how you will write for each. In future Rainmaking Recommendations, we will discuss the differences, but, for now, we will discuss the overarching similarities of writing for business development.
When you are writing for business development, you must write in plain English – except for legal publications where the primary audience is lawyers and are those who still speak/read/write in legalese. This means:
- Write in shorter sentences;
- Write in language that the ordinary layperson will understand;
- Write for your ideal audience; and
- Post/publish often.
Write for Your Ideal Audience:
Yes, I know you have read it before on this blog, but you must choose an ideal client profile. And I also know that you have read this line as well: You cannot be all things to all people.
We live in a world where the laws are getting more and more complicated each day. Trying to become knowledgeable in all practice areas would be an impossible feat. Your clients (and potential clients) seek someone who has an expert* level of understanding of their issues regardless of what they may be.
In addition to knowing about the issues in your ideal clients’ industries, you must be able to speak their language. Almost every single industry has its own language. Much like legalese, the industries in the B2B sector have a dialect all of their own. And, before writing anything, you need to study and become fluent in the industry’s jargon and terminology.
When you are writing, picture your ideal client sitting directly across from you and explain a specific concept to them.
Become Known As The Go-To- Authority:
Quick, when someone asks who the queen of decluttering is, what’s the first name that comes to mind? When it comes to the best gymnast in the world, who is the person of whom you think? And when it comes to the greatest inventor of all time, what name is on your tongue? If you thought Marie Kondo, Simone Biles, and Albert Einstein, then you are getting the idea. (By the way, please do not send me an email saying that these aren’t the names of which you thought – I am just using them for examples.) These people have established themselves as the penultimate authorities in their respective fields.
You have to do the same.
As a lawyer, your clients not only want to know that you understand their issues but that you can anticipate their problems before they even happen.
When you are writing, regardless of where it is published, you want to provide your readers with free information which is either actionable or creates something about which they can think. But more importantly, you want to find a way to address their issues – even be precognitive so that the problem doesn’t arise or they have a method to deal with it.
And, before you ask why I should give away all of this free content, let me explain. Everything you write about can be found somewhere. A person does not need your legal help when they can find the answer to almost anything on the internet. BUT they will not do it on their own. They want to find the lawyer they believe genuinely understands the issues that keep them up at night.
Writing is one of the best ways to showcase your knowledge – particularly for those who do not like public speaking. Just remember to write it for those that you want to read it.
*The words expert and expertise, specialist, and specialize may be unethical according to your state’s Rules of Professional Conduct.