Choosing your topic


“What should I write about?” asks many an attorney.

“That’s simple,” comes the answer. “Write what you know.“

Here’s the thing. What’s obvious and basic to you is obscure and complicated to your readers. They don’t know what you know. If they did, they wouldn’t be reading you or hiring you.

Write about something that’s obvious to you, because it’s not obvious to them.

Unless you’re writing to other lawyers, of course.

In which case, write about the kinds of things you would talk to them about if you were speaking to them. Shop talk—strategy, interesting cases, new laws, or your thoughts about something that might interest them because it interests you.

But if you’re writing to lay people, however sophisticated and intelligent they may be, you don’t need to give it much thought. Write about something you know well, something you could rattle off the top of your head in less time than it takes to ask, “What should I write about?”

You know this stuff, remember?

It might help to imagine you’re writing to a specific client, teaching him something about the law, procedure, or process. Or telling him about an interesting case you had (or heard about), explaining what happened and why it could be important to him.

You could give him a peek behind the curtain and show him what you do when you meet with a new client. What do you ask? What do you tell him? Do you fill out any forms? What’s on them? What do you do with the information?

Do you explain “what happens next?” Give him a quick rundown now so he can see what it will be like to work with you.

It doesn’t really matter what you write because your reader doesn’t know any of this and you know everything. He will see you as the expert and the solution to his problem, so make sure you also tell him what to do to get started.

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