With our EDRM webinar today discussing practical steps to build a knockout personal brand, it seemed like this was a great time to revisit this topic that I originally presented a couple of years ago at the Virtual Lunch with Leaders Zoom call for the San Diego Paralegal Association with Sheila Grela. So here are seven DOs of writing for legal professionals!*
For quite a while, I’ve followed these philosophies, but I had not ever formalized the seven DOs (or the seven DO NOTs coming later today) – until that presentation (thanks Sheila!). I don’t often repeat topics but given the timeliness of the webinar and the fact that over half of you have started following eDiscovery Today since then, it seems appropriate to repeat this one. So, here are the seven DOs, with comments about each:
DO read daily – it’s the best way to stay informed and generate ideas for your own writing: If any of you have seen the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, I’m sure you certainly remember Alec Baldwin’s character dressing down the other salesmen, stating “Always Be Cobbling”, I mean “Closing” (some of you got that joke). Regardless, good writing starts with reading a lot, at least some stories and articles every day, which keeps you well informed, enables you to pick up techniques from other writers out there and gives you topic ideas. Reading articles, blog posts and other resources within the industry has not only made me a better blog writer, but it has also made me a more knowledgeable and well-rounded eDiscovery professional, as well.
DO take time for a final review before publishing or presenting: Even for people who don’t write a daily blog like me, there are deadlines from time to time that can be extremely short – especially if you’re busy with other tasks as well. You want to take time to edit your work and help ensure good quality and it’s important to take time for at least one final review for clarity and to correct mistakes. Just don’t overdo it. Oh wait, I’m getting ahead of myself! 😉
DO keep a list of topics you’d like to write about and update it regularly: If you write regularly, it’s a good idea to keep a list of topics you’d like to write about. Some days, you’ll identify several great topics to add to the list, while other days, you may not be able to think of any additional topics to add (and some topics you may later decide you don’t want to cover after all). Regardless, a list of potential topics is great to fall back on when you don’t have any other ideas that day – it certainly has saved me numerous times in identifying a topic for the next day’s blog post.
DO seek feedback on your work: Not only that but accept it willingly. One reason I ask for comments at the end of each blog post is that I not only encourage thoughts about the topic, but also feedback about my post on it. Several times in the past, readers have pointed out to me when I have made mistakes or provided incorrect information and I have updated the post to correct those problems. So, if you see issues with my posts, please let me know. And, if you write blog posts or articles, willingly accept feedback as well.
DO look for opportunities to reference previous writings: If you write regularly enough, you’ll inevitably reference topics you’ve covered before, so don’t hesitate to link back to them. Even better, actively look for opportunities to link back to your previous writings. That can turn one view of your work into two or three and build loyalty to you as an author even more.
DO put your own personal spin on your writings when appropriate: Personal experiences, humor and pop culture references are regularly relatable. For example, a couple of years ago, I wrote about releasing legal holds for and tied it to Kenny Rogers’ song The Gambler, where he sings “you gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em” – only I replaced that second part with release ‘em. Or, if I throw in a comment like “that escalated quickly” or “surely, you can’t be serious”, I’ll find a clip of those quotes from the movies Anchorman or Airplane and link to them. Give readers a brief smile or chuckle when reading about serious topics to make it a little more fun.
DO find as many opportunities to write as possible: It’s the best way to improve! When I look back at my earliest blog posts, many of them almost seem like they were written by someone else. My writing “voice” has certainly evolved over the years and writing regularly and learning what works – from my own observations and from feedback of those who read my work – has enabled me to improve over time.
Those are seven DOs of writing for legal professionals! Later today, I’ll cover my seven DO NOTs of writing. DO NOT miss it! 😉
So, what do you think? What are some best practices you’ve observed in your writing or in that of others? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.
* – I’ve since learned that SEO engines frown on apostrophes, so “DO’S” became “DOs” and “DON’Ts” became “DO NOTs”. 🙂
Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.