If you are an attorney or other professional marketing your services on the Internet, who should be writing your website content?
Ethics rules prohibiting false or misleading advertising in your attorney website content may compel you to carefully select freelance writers who are well-versed in your specific profession.
Ten years ago, if you ran an Internet search for attorneys, the results would likely be a simple list of names, addresses, and contact phone numbers. The concept of advertising via attorney websites or law firm websites hadn’t really caught on, and the idea of the virtual law office was just a glimmer in the eye of a few enterprising lawyers who could foresee the enormous potential of the Internet.
Aside from the fact that Internet usage among the client base had not yet risen to its current level of prevalence, one major factor hindering attorney advertising on the world-wide web was attorney ethics rules, designed to prevent public exposure to any kind of false, misleading, or deceptive attorney advertisements.
Ethics rules, often called Rules of Professional Conduct, closely regulate the activity of attorneys and many other professionals. In the case of lawyer advertising, lawyer ethics rules can strictly constrain the content of attorney ads, published on the Internet or elsewhere. In many states, attorneys must still seek bar association approval of all advertising prior to publication.
Other state bar associations have reached out to embrace the information revolution, and attorneys in such forward-thinking states have been allowed to develop Internet advertising methods that incorporate all the best Internet marketing principles, like search engine optimization (SEO) of content, to improve ranking in the search engine results that bring readers to a website. Many attorney websites attempt to then keep people reading with devices like blogs or informative articles, often written by freelance writers.
Even in the most progressive states, the Rules of Professional Conduct continue to mandate caution when it comes to advertising through your law firm website. You should take care to select writers with an appropriate legal background, who are familiar with the requirements imposed on attorney advertising.
Freelance writers willing to work for ridiculously low prices are proliferating on the Internet these days, many of them hailing from English-speaking foreign countries or even the trenches of our own recession-ravaged America. As tempting as it may seem to hire blog writers at $10/article to keep your website active enough to earn high search engine rankings, lawyers must remain vigilant about the substance of the writing being published under their names.
Freelance writers inexperienced with legal advertising, who are accustomed to huffing and puffing in advertorial writing about products and less-regulated services, could inadvertently make statements in your website content, website articles, and blog posts that run afoul of the “false and misleading” standard.
You can hire cheap blog writers from a variety of sources on the Internet, but you’ll spend hours of your own time re-writing and “fixing” their work prior to publication. If you had that much time to put into it, wouldn’t you just have written it yourself to begin with? Isn’t the point of the whole thing to bring you clients, so you can spend your time performing legal services, not writing advertising copy?
Fortunately, you can find qualified freelance writers with a legal background who want to write your advertising copy. Visit a reputable freelancing website, like www.Elance.com, which offers literally thousands of freelancers able and willing to do the work you need, with the quality you have to have. You can search for providers using keywords relevant to your project, view profiles and portfolios of sample work, and review service ratings given by prior buyers. There’s even an escrow service, to protect both parties in the event of a problem with the transaction.
Browse the providers you find, and check out their qualifications. You may be surprised to find a number of J.D.s and experienced attorneys who have chosen the new freelancing way of life, reliable freelance writers who can write interesting, relevant content that will keep your website hopping with activity. Most importantly, you’ll find freelancers who understand the special requirements of your attorney advertising copy.
Start off small, posting a minor project and inviting qualified providers to bid on your project. You might even post several small projects, like 3 or 5 blog posts or articles each, and award each project to a different provider you’re interested in.
This is a great way to get to know different freelance writers with different styles, one of whom is bound to suit you. It is also a great way to gain exposure to new ideas and perfect your vision for your project. Best of all, you’ll be able to feel confident about the professional quality and care that goes into creating your attorney website content!
For an example of a freelance legal writer’s profile, visit my professional profile at vbock.elance.com.
For faster results, contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, to request writing samples or to discuss your next legal advertising copywriting project.