Though every lawyer could write a library full of novels about their life and professional work, all too often lawyers are not great Web writers. Is it because their endless rounds of court-ordained tasks and client care deplete their writing ability? Is it because they can’t write? Of course not. So what’s wrong with the legal website content written by lawyers? The answer is simple: too much legalese.
Legalese is tempting to throw into client communications. After all, you’re the attorney…you get paid to use complex legal terminology and construct legal arguments that draw on the profession’s special language. Unfortunately, this can alienate current and potential clients…and that could be a big mistake for your practice!
Here’s how to reduce the use of legalese in your client communications, be they by letter or over the Web:
– Break up those sentences. When it comes to writing for your clients, shorter is better. After you’ve written something, go through and try to find sentences you can break up into shorter ones. It’s easier on the eye and has a greater impact. I promise.
– Translate. Think of yourself as a translator. By day, you speak a legal jargon understood by a privileged few. How would you break down a complex legal concept for someone who knew nothing about the law whatsoever? Your clients depend on you to translate legal ideas into concepts they can understand. Respect that trust and reciprocate with language that’s geared toward all levels, especially when writing website content.
– Write with search engines in mind. Do you think a potential client is more likely to look up a sentence like “involuntary manslaughter conviction ramifications” or “DUI consequences”? A dash of realism in your writing can help turn visitors into clients.
It may seem difficult to “turn it on” and “turn it off”, but learning to reduce legalese in all your written and verbal communications with your clients and will benefit you.