How to

How do I decide which bar publications to write for?

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Our friend Ben Wright (also known as The Editing Lawyer) recently advised the Casetext Insights vlog watchers to write for their state bar’s publications. But what kind of writing should you do?

Most state bars have many opportunities to write for the legal community, from blogs to CLE papers to magazines. Ben added to that list one less common (and more grueling) possibility: contributing to a book published by the state bar.

You can think about books that your bar publishes. They often work with volunteer lawyer authors on those.

Unlike blogs and magazines which have short life spans, books last. They give you an opportunity to reach more people over time who are interested in your particular expertise.

And, as Ben points out, books hold you to a higher standard. The exercise of writing a book forces you to do your best and most comprehensive thinking.

If you have the opportunity to write a book for your state bar, or to write a chapter for an edited compilation, Ben suggests you take it. The difficulty of writing books will scare others off, helping you stand out among your peers.

Not Ready to Write a Book?

Even while praising the effort of book writing, Ben knows that such an effort feels out of reach for many practicing attorneys. Not to worry, though, because you can still do shorter bursts of high quality research by focusing on a niche audience.

Most bars have specific sections that will be more targeted towards practice areas. They often have their own newsletters or a smaller journals, things like that.

By narrowing your audience, you can deliver useful research without feeling the need to “write the book” on an issue. Choosing from among the many available platforms, Ben says, should then be driven more by your strategic goals rather than the ease of creation.

Think about your audience. Think about who you need to demonstrate your expertise to, who you want to build your reputation with, or who you want to help.

In short, Ben advises, go wherever your target audience is and help them in the way they wish to be helped. If that’s in books, write books; if your audience prefers blogs, contribute to blogs.

In the end, if your contribution expresses compassion and care for the people you aim to serve, they will appreciate your work.

Writing is about helping people. You see that classic example in a lot of bar associations of older lawyers writing things that help younger lawyers get started in the practice. That’s a great example of a reason to do this work.

Like the TV cliché of older lawyers mentoring in a smoky bar near the courthouse, bar publications are a great place to transmit best practices to a younger generation.

You Know More than you Think

Ben also encourages you not to underestimate what you know. It’s easy to take your daily knowledge for granted, but other lawyers might find your insights fascinating.

Don’t overlook the fact that lawyers need to know that there are other lawyers out there doing what you do.

If you want to give other lawyers that kind of introductory knowledge, think about what annoys you. Your frustration may indicate a need for education among your fellow attorneys.

I think that we all have these sort of bugaboos, things we just wish every other lawyer knew to stop doing or to watch out for. That’s a great example of something to put in a broader publication. That’s what really gets your name noticed and builds your reputation.

I’ve seen a lot of success from articles and presentations that teach the basics of one practice area placed in the context of another area. So, for example, you might write an article titled “Criminal Law Basics Every Family Lawyer Should Know,” or something similar. Those simple principles can make all the difference for a practitioner trying to deliver for clients who expect us to know more than just our practice area.

When you do this work – when you think about your audience and make the effort to write well – Ben promises that you’ll deliver valuable material.

The only thing stopping you from being that known authority is your own commitment. So what will you write?

Want to Learn More about Writing Well?

To see the entire interview with Ben, check out the video below…

And take a look at the other articles in this series on better writing for lawyers. We’re happy to support the development of good writing habits and would love a chance to explain how you can incorporate Casetext’s AI-enabled research tools to enhance your skills.

Please take a moment to schedule a demo of Casetext’s research tools, and take advantage of our free trial. As you’ll see, we aim to help good lawyers like you improve their craft.

Mike Whelan, Jr. is Managing Editor at Casetext. He spends most of his day advocating for and training solo and small firm attorneys in topics as varied as writing, marketing, design, and collaboration. He was a solo attorney himself for several years after graduating from the University of Texas School of Law. He lives in the Kansas City area with his lovely wife and four rambunctious children.