By Geri L. Dreiling
In this final installment, I will explain how to go about getting items in print.
Steps to getting published
Once a topic has been chosen, the next step is to identify a legal publication that might be a good fit for the article. Lawyers routinely receive state and local bar journals, legal newspapers and magazines published by associations devoted to certain practice areas. Those same media outlets often publish guest articles.
Find the publication’s masthead and locate the editor’s contact information. Give the editor a call or send an e-mail. Editors like to hear from the lawyers they cover and should be happy to talk to you about your idea.
In addition to outlining the topic idea, the lawyer will also want to go over the submission guidelines. Some of the key questions that must be answered are whether footnotes are preferred or prohibited, the desired length, the article’s deadline and whether the author will retain copyright to the article.
Once the editor has given the go-ahead, it is important to set a workable writing schedule. Unfortunately, the schedule of a practicing lawyer can be erratic. The attorney with several upcoming trials on the calendar and a whirlwind of out-of-town depositions set may want to consider hiring a writer to help with the project.
When this collaborative approach is used, the writer works from the lawyer’s notes and research and will most likely interview the lawyer for the piece. The result is an article that relies on the lawyer’s knowledge, research, experience and vision. The writer assembles the pieces in a way that makes the article accessible to lawyers and nonlawyers alike. The finished product should conform to the submission guidelines and should meet the editorial deadline.
If the lawyer decides to write the piece alone, he or she should give the draft to someone else to read or, at the very least, set the draft aside for a day or two and then edit it with a fresh perspective.
Once the piece has been turned in, the lawyer should respond promptly to any questions from the editor. Production schedules at most publications are tight, and there isn’t much room for delay. If the lawyer takes too long to supply answers, the piece may be dropped.
Print publications may also be skipped altogether. The lawyer might decide to take the piece straight to the Internet and post it on the firm’s Web site or even post it to the Web site first and submit it for print publication later. With the Internet, CLE handouts, client newsletters and even blogs, many different publication combinations are available.
That also means plenty of chances to publicize great results, new insights, and innovative legal strategies. Don’t hesitate. Seize them.
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