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Getting Published: The Foundation for Business Development

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A published article is like currency for building a network, developing a reputation for excellence, and gaining exposure to unanticipated opportunities. It sets the foundation for success in the law, professionally and personally, by reminding you of the most satisfying aspects of the work and conveying that satisfaction in a compelling narrative.

Despite late-night feelings to the contrary, lawyers focus on fascinating issues. Those that can distance themselves from an individual matter and select a fine point that is particularly engaging can easily create the premise of a well-received article. For those that cannot, great ideas are only a mouse click away. Technology lawyers, for example, can find them on Grantedalaw.com; consumer protection attorneys can visit FTC.gov; and there are many others. With no shortage of resources, the only hindrance to great commentary is one's imagination.



Perhaps the most overlooked, but incredibly valuable, brainstorming opportunities come from colleagues and clients. Not only does communication about story ideas give one the chance to develop a deeper relationship with another attorney or contact, it makes the process much more enjoyable. Writing is, after all, a creative pursuit that carries with it the added benefit of personal satisfaction. Notoriety just happens to be the great reward for your effort.

Finding the right home for that effort can be a challenge. While it is exciting for a popular magazine or newspaper to print your ideas, there may be more valuable publications that reach your target audience. As such, consider who makes up that population and compile a list of the periodicals that they read. Then narrow down that list to those that cover the subject matter in which you are an authority (or are attempting to demonstrate your knowledge).

While legal publications are often the first considered for placement, do not feel limited to bar association magazines and law-related newspapers. Instead, research possible homes for your work on Google or FindLaw. If you are drafting an article on marketing, for example, it may be that a narrowly tailored newsletter aimed at music professionals offers you much greater exposure to your potential client base than a column in Rolling Stone.

For promotional purposes, it should not matter whether the publication offers you exposure in print or solely online because you will most likely be distributing your article to your network via e-mail. In fact, those that appear online either alone or in addition to print will offer greater visibility because search engines will associate your name with the topic on which you wrote for eternity. This will make existing and prospective clients, as well as media professionals looking for an authority in the area, more likely to find you.

When pitching an article, describe what you would like to write, who you are, and why you are ideally suited to author this piece. Be brief but potent. Bear in mind that one of the most critical facts to convey to an editor is what makes your topic relevant. If there is no time hook for your story, it is unlikely to be selected.

If possible, attach writing samples to your pitch. If you do not have clips, there are always opportunities to obtain some by penning a book review or an editorial for a local or regional journal. In addition, consider co-authoring with another attorney or professional connection whose skill you respect. It is an ideal opportunity to collaborate on a non-work-related project but in an inventive, specialized context. Activities like this one also lead to new and unexpected opportunities such as client referrals, new billable work, and even friendships that transcend the law.

The law should, however, always remain central to the process, especially since your priority is to your firm. Your message and tone should be consistent and maintain dedication to a single formula: exposure enhances your reputation and as that reputation grows, so, too, do your prospects for developing business. That is the science. The art is distinguishing yourself with a unique voice and style.

About the Author

Ari Kaplan teaches a business development course at bar associations and law firms nationwide on the mechanics of getting published. The principal of Ari Kaplan Advisors has written over 125 articles and has appeared on CNN as a legal expert. He is the author of an upcoming book from Thompson-West on creative marketing and also serves on the board of editors for American Lawyer Media's Marketing the Law Firm and e-Discovery Law & Strategy. He can be reached at ari@arikaplanadvisors.com.


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