It's a common strategy – get your law clerks to hunt down recent decisions, events or news and have them write an article about it.
But is it really a good idea?
On the surface, it seems like a useful piece of delegation – you get some content out of it while remaining free to do your important legal work.
Unfortunately, while it keeps up the output on your website, the results are often poor.
Beyond results, there are some pretty good marketing and business reasons why attempting to delegate the entirety of your content marketing program to your law clerks is a really terrible idea.
Here are a few to ponder.
It Sends the Wrong Message
While involving your clerks/graduates in your marketing is great, and I encourage it, delegating the entirety of the article production process to them suggests that the work is low value.
In fact, content marketing is one of your most important arrows in the marketing quiver. If you're essentially just publishing whatever comes arrives from your clerk's email at the end of the day, you're pretty obviously not sold on the idea that it's important. If you were, you'd be more involved.
So if you're going to get clerks involved in the process then great. But do it as a collaborative form of training and feedback rather than a total abrogation of responsibility.
Law Clerks Can't Write…
Ah yes, while it used to be “white men can't jump” now all the cool kids are about how “law clerks can't write”.
That's not really their fault, of course. They've been taught to prepare academic papers and case notes, and that's about it.
So I'm sure they can churn out a precis of the latest High Court decision in no time flat, but can they do it in a way that's client centered, interesting to read, and provides valuable information?
Not usually. At least, not without a bit of guidance along the way.
The hard truth is that writing for marketing is actually really difficult. If it wasn't, I wouldn't have spent thousands of hours learning how to do it.
So while it seems like you're utilising good leverage techniques by delegating your content marketing to your clerks, the truth is you rarely get the necessary value to make it worth your while.
Personality Flies Out the Window
Fundamentally, law clerks are often fairly terrified individuals, cowed at the thought of overstepping the (invisible) line by creating something too risky.
The result, often connected with the point above, is that the end product coming from your clerk's keys is… boring.
Yes, with risk adversity usually comes a healthy dollop of tedium. The most exciting we get is usually in words like “opine” and “axiomatic” which seem to have infiltrated law schools like nits through a primary school.
And if your content is boring, then you're dead in the water.
They Don't Understand Your Clients
To produce high quality content, it needs to be for someone.
More often than not, law clerks don't know who your clients are, what they care about or how to write an article that's useful for them.
Without an article being written for somebody, it's generally written for nobody (AKA the world at large).
Result: your clients don't find the article useful or relevant.
The Solution? Training
Let's assume that your firm has actually developed a content strategy that's been strategically targeted towards your clients.
Your job isn't just to fling work at your law clerks to get “that article nonsense” off your plate. Rather, your job is to train your clerks to be a meaningful and valuable part of your firm's marketing effort.
Imagine if your clerks were producing articles that were:
- directly on point for your clients
- practical and useful
- part of an overall strategy
- not requiring immense editing before publication.
Wouldn't that be awesome?
So train your clerks properly, and the results will follow.
Don't, and those results will follow too.