Although I write for a lot of large law firms, some of my favorite clients are the smaller ones. Rosen Hagood, of Charleston, South Carolina, has only fourteen attorneys. Yet, it’s an amazing collection of people. They’re deeply embedded in the social, business and political life of Charleston. They’re great lawyers, and surpassingly decent people. They’ve been leaders in the South Carolina bar. They have gentle Southern accents that are wonderful to listen to. And this week, they gave me a great idea.
One of the ongoing challenges law firms have in creating content for blogs, articles, LinkedIn posts and so on is the endless clash between what the attorneys do, and what I do. They practice law. I think of things to write. Unfortunately, for me to do my work, I need to involve them. As skilled as I am at just thinking stuff up, I do need some collaboration with them, some direction – what do you want me to write about? This is often a struggle, because for them, time is money, and they are simply not wired to sit around and think up blog topics. As a result, the well is sometimes dry – they have no idea what I should write about, and so I can’t. It’s kind of awful. It’s like being a racehorse in a stuck starting gate.
Until last week. This problem was neatly solved by one of their attorneys, with a simple, elegant step – she simply sent me a brief she’d just filed.Pressed for time, I think she just dragged the icon into the email, hit “Send” and went back to work.
Bingo. Problem solved, baby.
In case you don’t speak lawyer, a brief is a document filed in litigation that argues one side or another of a particular dispute. Writing a brief is a big deal – it takes a lot of time and work, needs to be researched, and should lay out a complete argument for whatever it is that the attorney wants the court to decide. A decent brief will assume nothing, start at the beginning, and assemble as much firepower and as many facts as possible to win the day.
I could turn this into a blog post. I did turn it into one. I can do it again. Hey, look – it’s a product!
One of the things that make me good at what I do is that I’m a lawyer, too. My training and my experience enable me to read legal material – articles, statutes, regulations, and yes, briefs – and actually understand them, including putting them into context. I can, and do, read the most technical, abstract stuff, and pretty quickly understand why it matters, and how it fits into the bigger picture. I can also make it interesting. What I lack is raw material, coal to shovel into the firebox, as it were. Well, guess what? Briefs are excellent fuel.
Lawyers create content all day, every day. It’s simply in a different format. Rather than think up new topics, I can simply use what they’ve already created, put a nice suit on it, brush its hair, and push it out onto stage. After spending years trying to figure out a way to get the lawyers to help me figure out what to write, the problem just solved itself. I love it when that happens.