A June, 2016 article by James Bliwas, Toronto-based business development consultant to law firms, details how firms can attract the attention of clients with strategic publishing efforts. The concepts Bliwas details can and should be applied to law firms operating in specific regions as a means to more carefully tailor messages to clients. This article will detail what law firms might do to publish as a means to generate new client engagements, and some examples of what — in the Asia-Pacific region in particular might be of interest to clients. Law firms can then take this information, apply it to existing efforts or design a new effort aimed at creating a publishing effort more finely tailored to the needs of their clients.
Strikingly, Bliwas article details how law firm blogs are being read by only 7% of clients, according to a recent study published by Robert Denney – which analyzed the publishing efforts of US and Canadian law firms. Why is readership of law firm blogs so low, according to the study? Bliwas details some of the comments by general counsel and other client readers, which boil down to 5 key takeaways. They are:
Don’t provide strategic analysis — Law firm blogs often regurgitate what the law says, but don’t analyze the implications of the law in ways useful to helping clients with strategic decision-making. Bliwas noted that an ideal law blog will help clients understand what strategic options they might have to adjust to new laws.
Are reactive, not proactive — Law firm blogs often repeat news about legal developments which clients commented is repetitive and doesn’t provide them with any additional information or insight.
Not covering emerging issues — “I need my lawyers telling me what I should be doing tomorrow, not what I should have done yesterday”, was what one CEO told surveyors compiling information for the Denney study according to Bliwas. Clients, as Bliwas explained, want content “created by law firms to pay more attention [to] business issues with a law connotation”. Law firm blogs, therefore, should cover what clients might do “over the next six months to a year”
Aren’t giving readers something to think about — Clients want the law firm blogs they read to not only identify business trends but provide unique insight and opinions from the law firm’s perspective. One corporate vice-president observed: “I know the facts..I want to be provoked, something lawyers hate doing.”
Are poorly written — “Many blogs make for painful reading because they’re littered with ‘lawyer speak’”, as Bliwas details. “A blog’s purpose isn’t to impress a reader with how much a lawyer knows about the law, or a specific case; it’s to convey useful information in a concise, easy-to-read way”, he explains. Bliwas recommends law firms work with professional writers to help make their blogposts more readable and more interesting.
Writing to attract law firms clients in the Asia-Pacific region
Much has been written in the past few years about the economic growth and opportunity the Asia-Pacific region represents to clients and law firms alike.
Emerging issues in intellectual property, the increase in arbitration attendant to economic growth and economic convergence in the ASEAN region, China’s Belt and Road infrastructure investment opportunities, Japan’s robust inward and outward foreign investment, opportunities for foreign ownership in state-owned enterprises in Vietnam’s fast growing economy, the rise of the internet economy in Indonesia, venture funding to India’s startups via Singapore, Hong Kong as a hub for China-related IPO’s and the growth of crowdfunding in Malaysia – are just a few of the numerous tangible business issues with legal implications – that firms in the Asia-Pacific region might engage clients with creatively via strategic online publishing.
It would be wise, therefore, to heed the advice of clients in the Denney study and seek to create thoughtful, well-written blogposts which provide unique insights and strategic analysis. Law firms in the Asia-Pacific region can make themselves a must-read source of local information and analysis for clients — with a carefully planned and consistently executed strategic publishing initiative.