Can lawyers actually write? Weird question, because they are proficient in language. Complicated memos and pleading notes, ok, but what about clear texts? Ms. I Chu Chao, an independent lawyer who has her own law firm, Chao Legal, succeeds excellently in this, even in two languages (Dutch and English).
Ms. Chao writes inspiringly about her fields of law, being: intellectual property law, IT law and privacy law. Besides being an independent lawyer (Chao Legal), Ms. Chao is also a legal speaker, trainer and blogger. Chao: “Blogging works very well for my visibility. My potential clients do not necessarily call me immediately after a publication of mine, but I often hear that people saw something of me on LinkedIn again. And no, it is never perceived as too much. Someone even called it “brave” that I persist in writing so consistently, without expecting direct results.”
Personal branding for lawyers
Chao blogs regularly, and posts content on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. “When I started just a year and a half ago, I wrote every week. I have a schedule, but now I sometimes fail to write longer stories. It shouldn’t be a must. But you can also write micro-blogs, or record a vlog with your phone. I see it as personal branding.”
Chao writes on topics she deals with in her work. “I don’t mention names, because I have a confidentiality obligation, but that never gets in the way. There is so much to blog about! ”
She keeps her target group in mind when writing blogs, says Chao: “I mostly write for entrepreneurs who do not yet have much legal knowledge, so I do not write for my fellow lawyers. However, general counsels who have a broad legal background also regularly see my content and face on Linkedin. The moment they are looking for a lawyer, your name will be mentioned earlier when they already know you and see you regularly.”
Linkedin is the main publication channel for Chao, where she already has a good network of more than 2,000 contacts. She is not a social media expert, but through “trial and error”, she knows what works: “I use hashtags, I now know how long the texts must be on LinkedIn and what size the photo should have. I look at the number of likes and views, and I check how many people have seen my post. But that is not my main drive to write blogs.”
Chao does not keep track of the time that she puts into her personal branding, which she does on the weekends and nights, where possible with the use of apps. She publishes all her blogs in Dutch and English. “I usually write in Dutch first and then I have that automatically translated into English. Then I correct it. Correction is still necessary, but those translation programs are getting better and better.”
Someone recently said to me that ‘blogging’ is already an outdated medium. Fine, but you can also call it content marketing, PR, knowledge sharing, microblogging, or vlogging. The basis is always: talking about your profession in accessible language. Who writes, remains. It not only works for I Chu Chao, but also for other (well-known) legal bloggers and social media stars, such as Master Leonie, Charlotte’s Law and colleague Arnoud Engelfriet and I probably forget a few more names. But we are not talking about a hundred lawyers, I dare say.
What do they all do well? They dare to speak out, have an opinion, an authentic style and set their own tone, go straight to their goal, write in an accessible manner, and make themselves heard. Many lawyers find it difficult to give an opinion in their blogs, because they can always go different ways for their clients. And yet, voicing an opinion based on legal knowledge and in crystal clear language, is more appreciated than an elaborate, legal monster text. This is also appreciated by managers or general counsels of large companies.
There is hope. Recently, I received an extremely readable blog post from a first-year law student, who wrote her text as part of a writing skills course. If this subject is taught in universities, I have full confidence in the future. Future generations of lawyers will be able to tell clients in clear language why you should hire them, they widely share knowledge and build their personal brand while writing, blogging or micro-blogging.
— This is an informal English translation of a Dutch article that is written by Erik Jan Bolsius and was published earlier in the digital magazine Advocatie.nl —
If you want like to know more about blogging for lawyers, and meet up for a cup of coffee? Please send me a message on the contact page.