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| 3 minutes read

An Attorney's Perspective: Activating your firm's voice through thought leadership

On April 13th, Passle's very own Eugene McCormick moderated a panel discussion in partnership with the LMA Mid-Atlantic region, exploring the topic of activating your firm's voice through thought leadership. 

For the purposes of this write-up, we wanted to focus on the content creation process, particularly delving into the attorney's perspective - as these are the minds you want authoring and developing your firm's thought leadership. 

Deborah Ausburn, Partner at Taylor English, joined the panel to candidly shared her experiences with publishing content over the last 15 years. Having authored over 250 insights on Taylor English's website, she sits in a fantastic position to be able to share her learnings. This delivered a wonderful balance combined with her peers' insights, with Julia Bennett (CMO, Brown Rudnick) and Moya Williams (Senior Digital Marketing Executive, Macfarlanes) tackling the questions from more of a Marketing & BD standpoint. 

How has thought leadership impacted your overall plan for career growth? 

Deborah provided context into her background, explaining how she ended up coming to private practice later in her career. She explained that the traditional means of finding new clients and driving business development were not a natural fit. As an introvert, it took a lot of energy and dedicated time to network in person. When she discovered blogging, however, she immediately saw the opportunity of building a name for herself online by providing valuable information. This quickly became a low time commitment and impactful way to drive connections and maintain client relationships in her life. 

Deborah ended up developing a recognized presence online. She found creating content provided a channel where she could intersect her expertise with very current events in her subject area (Youth-Serving Organizations). Over time, when prospective clients were searching the internet for information, it was Deborah's posts that were showing up.

There are a lot of lawyers offering similar services, but they are not active online. In this way, Deborah is able to establish credibility and demonstrate the knowledge she has to solve potential challenges. The great thing about content is that people will find something you've written years ago and still come to you as the attorney who can help with their problems. Through the internet, she has been able to connect with clients that she otherwise would have never met physically. 

How can you get attorneys to write content more regularly? 

Deborah explained that for attorneys, time is the biggest hurdle to get over. How to jump that hurdle? Explaining to partners that their content doesn't have to be 24 pages. A thought piece should be between 500 and 700 words. Once they get over that, they're able to dive in and share their expertise with no problem. After all, these people are writers and speakers by trade.

Another way to get time-poor experts over the content creation hump is content stacking - aka re-using content. Deborah explained she has blog posts sitting in her inbox - content that just needs reworking to make it a valuable insight for clients. She removes names and confidential information from emails, memos, and briefs, and cleans them up to repurpose their use as an email into an insightful post. Every attorney in the world has tons of content already written, it's just a matter of packaging it up and getting it out there.

How can you package lawyer generated content in a more client-friendly & engaging format? 

Deborah has found that overall, blog series are a far better way of writing content than a long-form paper. Driving business and building relationships has surpassed the era of long content pieces, and has in fact pivoted into short, pithy digestible pieces of content. With this in mind, we encourage all our content producers to keep their audience in mind when they're writing. Your expertise is invaluable to your clients experience, but you don't want to distract them from the main ideas you're hoping to convey. 

For an operational perspective, read Moya's top tips here.

Hear the CMO perspective from Julia here.


e2e, marketing, professional services, content creation, writing tips