Don’t lose the respect of your audience with error-laden legal content
By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.
When I was a young associate, a partner in my firm sent out a letter urging fellow lawyers to support a particular attorney’s candidacy in an upcoming state bar election. The missive recited the candidate’s strengths and contained several reasons explaining that a vote for him would be good for the bar as a whole. In a gesture that would make most law marketing types happy, the letter even included a call to action.
Unfortunately, it went something like this: “When your ballet arrives, please check yes.”
As a result, a few hundred lawyers were left wondering whether a dance troupe or a stack of papers would be arriving at the office.
Despite the fact that the letter had been read and proofread by both the partner who dictated it and the legal secretary who transcribed it, the unfortunate typo was overlooked.
It isn’t just harried lawyers and legal secretaries, stretched too thin, to whom seemingly obvious errors — errors that a fresh-eyed arm’s-length review would catch — are invisible, either.
According to a story on National Public Radio, even Jane Austen had her less-than-perfect moments, submitting manuscripts with grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors. But, it seems, Austen had someone who saved her from embarrassing mistakes: a skilled editor.
Legal Content Copyedits
As a professional writer, I understand the difference a good copyedit makes. That’s why Legal Media Matters relies on copy editor Kerry Bailey to review the work we produce on behalf of clients, whether it’s a press release, legal content for a law firm’s website or marketing materials such as brochures and fliers. At times, it may seem to a client that we’re being overly picky or just causing a delay when we insist that newly drafted content be reviewed by our firm’s copy editor — but we understand that there’s more at stake than just a red face.
It‘s better to discover grammar errors before you spend several hundred dollars on 500 full-color brochures. You definitely want to catch the fact that a founding partner’s name is being printed with the wrong middle initial before you place 1,000 new business cards on the partner’s desk. After spending a few – or several thousand – dollars developing and launching a website, you don’t want clients pointing out spelling errors on the home page. Errors like these can cost your firm the trust and respect of clients and potential clients. After all, if you can’t get the name of a founding partner right, what else are you getting wrong?
A good copyedit also helps search engine optimized text flow more naturally for a reader. Achieving the perfect balance between good search engine performance and readability is difficult. Though artificial, keyword-stuffed and possibly grammatically incorrect text may generate visitors, you’ll have a harder time converting them into actual clients.
In an earlier blog post, “Editing Web Content for Law Firms,” we shared seven tips for copy-editing your content. The items we listed are a good start toward ensuring clean, accurate copy.
Of course, you could also turn your copy over to an editor for review to ensure that your legal marketing materials are polished and professional and convey the message you intended — instead of evoking, say, an image of leaping dancers in tights and tutus.
Do you need a professional copyedit or help writing legal content? Contact Legal Media Matters and learn more about our website development and content writing services.