I recently had a conversation with a lawyer who was struggling to finish a client alert. It had been sitting on his desk for about a week for his final review.
This lawyer is not known to be a procrastinator, so I asked him what was going on, and he candidly told me that he just couldn’t stop finetuning it. He said he kept moving around paragraphs, editing sentences and adding and deleting sections.
I (gently) told him that time was of the essence here since the alert was about a recent development in his area of the law and his clients expected him to write about it.
I also told him that two of our peer firms had published alerts on a similar topic in the past week. Suddenly it was suddenly like a light went off in his head.
A few hours later, he sent me the final version of the article, and while it was better late than never, this situation wasn’t ideal for the alert to get maximum exposure. I know many lawyers struggle with this issue, which I call content paralysis.
Many lawyers are perfectionists, which can derail their content creation efforts.
Because most client alerts are about developments in the law, every minute counts when it comes to distribution, especially when your competitors are writing about similar topics. Don’t let others beat you to it!
Busy in-house counsel have limited attention spans, especially for client alerts from law firms, and while you want yours to be well written, thoughtful and succinct, you most importantly want it to be timely.
Also, some in-house counsel only open alerts from the law firms they use – so they are actually waiting for their outside counsel to update them on what they need to know to do their jobs better. Time is of the essence.
Personally, I sit on articles when I am struggling with what to say. A combination of procrastination and perfectionism – and then throw in being too busy – can be a trifecta recipe for many of us to never get any writing done to further our personal branding and lead generation efforts.
Let’s change that!
One of my clients told me a trick that has greatly helped her turn stuck articles into published works. She blocks out chunks of time in her calendar to write as if it was an actual meeting. Committing to this time really works.
You know yourself better than anyone else in terms of how long it will take you to write something, and it doesn’t have to be the next War and Peace – so think short and digestible. Be realistic, but give yourself enough time (perhaps early in the day and in the late afternoon or evening – so that you have quiet space to think without the craziness of your hectic day getting in the way) to write and block out interruptions such as pesky email alerts.
The most important piece of advice I have for lawyers whose acute attention to detail and impeccably high standards leads to content paralysis is to create and distribute content while the topic is hot. Embrace the idea of good enough.
You simply can’t give 100% to everything 100% of the time anyway – don’t fall into the content paralysis trap. While you don’t ever want to sacrifice quality, your delay as you chase perfect means that, ultimately, you’re letting your competitors win client attention that you deserve.
I’d like to leave you with one final thought that I hope stirs up your competitive side. Many in-house counsel really do make the decision to hire outside counsel directly based on a piece of content written by a lawyer. So get those almost-finalized alerts off your desk and in the hands of potential clients – they’re doing no one any good sitting in front of you.