Advice for Associates and Students

You feel nervous about publishing something, right? You should be, a bit – but don’t let it put you off.

Some things to bear in mind:

  • get a partner to vet your idea and your draft, for technical accuracy
  • defer to the senior person on points of law (unless you can show you’re right), but not always on stylistic matters (as an articling student, I stood my ground when a partner insisted that theirself was a word)
  • check whether your firm acts for any party you’re talking about – you don’t want to say anything a client might not like
  • be cautious in taking positions on public issues – your firm may represent parties with interests at stake, even if those parties aren’t mentioned specifically in your blog post or update
  • humour is good, but be careful; it can backfire
  • consider anti-spam legislation (basically, no commercial electronic messages to parties with whom you don’t have an existing business relationship)
  • if available, have your marketing or communications people check the formatting of your piece and run a draft by you before publication

On a more positive note:

  • write about something that clients will find interesting
  • pitch it at a level that will engage, not alienate, your reader
  • write plain, understandable prose – not Latinate legal mumbo jumbo (which will alienate your reader)
  • explain why this new case or statutory provision (or whatever) is relevant: what does the client need to do, be aware of, avoid?

Now that I think of it, many of these are useful pointers for partners, too.

Now, get writing.

Next time: lose the Latin.

Neil Guthrie (@guthrieneil)

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