As a lawyer, you likely already understand what is meant by the term “legalese.” However, for those who are unaware, it refers to “legal talk.” Legalese is virtually any content or text that uses a lot of legal terminology and academic/scholarly words, terms, and phrases. An example of this would be using words such as “statute” or “stipulation” without explaining what they mean. It also refers to odd words, such as “henceforth” and “herewith.” When legalese is used, most people avoid contractions and common lingo, making it difficult for people who are not in the legal industry to understand.
There is a time and place to use legalese. In court documents, when filing official legal letters and other official paperwork. However, in other cases, such as on your law firm’s website, it is best to avoid it.
In some cases, using legalese can actually do more harm than good. The key to knowing whether or not it is appropriate is to think about your audience. Ask yourself the following:
When you are writing for your potential or current clients, most of these people are not going to understand all the legal terms you may commonly use. As a result, it is better to use grammar that is more succinct, shorter and more approachable.
When you are posting on social media, it is especially important to keep the content short and approachable. Short phrases and sentences can help your audience pay attention to what you are saying, rather than just skimming past your post. Brevity matters when posting on social media. Also, including images can help to increase your visibility on various social platforms.
When you create content that is easy to digest, it is easier to read and becomes more memorable. When a potential client is skimming several legal websites, what are they going to remember about each one? Some of the most common things remembered include critical site design features and factors such as mobile-friendliness, ease of access and load speed. If they stick around to look at the content, they are also likely going to remember the first few articles they see.
To ensure your content is remembered in a positive way, make sure to do the following:
Legal content writing is a unique process. It requires more thought and consideration than what is done for some other industries. However, when you “get it right” it can make a huge difference in the number of visitors you can attract.