Writing a legal article that will actually get read takes a lot of skill and commitment. But, with the right mindset and advice, it can be done in a way that will be appreciated by your audience and shared amongst your peers. Most lawyers write articles that summarize a specific case, propose a point, and explain various concepts or other useful information that will be placed in a firm’s resources for its clients. Here are some key tips for producing a legal article that is informative, engaging, and read:
First, and perhaps the most important rule of thumb, is know your audience. Before you even finalise what topic you will be writing about, considering your audience should be at the top of your list. It is vital to know both who they are and what they know. Many writers create a person in their head (also called an avatar) based on someone who would be part of the audience they are writing for. A notable Lawyer blog entitled, Tips for Lawyers, gives an example of creating an audience member in your head for when you are writing a legal article:
“Jane is a 34 year old mother of two, she works full time and her kids stay with her parents during the day. Her husband is away often working for a mining company. Jane doesn’t have a lot of spare time, but needs to stay up to date to ensure she manages her business well,” (8 Requirements for Writing a Legal Article That Will Get Read).
Notice how detailed the writer is about the person that represents its audience so he or she can know exactly who their audience is – the more detailed, the better.
Another important factor to consider when writing a legal article is the headline, which should inform your audience why they care about the topic you are writing on. Your headline should be interesting and detailed, not boring and uninformative like “Court Update,” or “Law News.” Keep in mind, you should avoid headlines that are too fancy and clever, because then you’ll just be causing a lot of unwanted confusion for your audience members. If your audience cannot understand the headline of your article, chances are they will have no interest in actually reading it.
Investing time in your opening sentence is vital for writing an article that will actually be read and recognized. According to Tips for Lawyers:
“Your opening sentence MUST align with your headline and your extract – they need to tell the same story, but not in the same way. The opening sentence should offer enough about the article that the person wants to read the rest. It should not contain the answer to the question, the benefit you offered, or anything else that means there is no need to read the rest of the article,” (8 Requirements for Writing a Legal Article That Will Get Read).
Another tip for writing a great opening sentence is to avoid mentioning case names, legislation, or other topics that will bore your audience out of their mind.
Lastly, images. Make sure their are images in your article and make sure they are relevant. It’s as simple as that. For more tips on how to write an intriguing legal article, check out Tips for Lawyers’ article here.