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The Transformative Power of Content Creation in the Legal Profession

Caleb Raymond Gerbitz

Summary

  • If you create content about an area of the law, you inevitably will become an authority on that subject through the content creation process.
  • Through content creation, lawyers can develop and elevate discussion about the law within their area of expertise.
  • The content lawyers create and publish online often serves as the lens through which non-lawyers see the law, leveling the playing field for those without legal training.
The Transformative Power of Content Creation in the Legal Profession
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Can non-billable hours spent creating content about the law be transformative? I think so.

Over my (relatively brief) career, I have developed a niche in creating content about Wisconsin’s appellate courts. I author a Substack column called the Appellate Approach, which reviews civil decisions from the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, and I cohost a monthly podcast segment on the same subject. It’s a subject matter I enjoy, and I find satisfaction in covering Wisconsin’s appellate courts.

But, I’ve found that the benefits of content creation do much more than offer personal satisfaction. Content creation advances your career, benefits the legal community, and serves the public. Done well, content creation is an enriching experience for any lawyer. 

Why Be a Content Creator in the Legal Profession?

At a very high level, there are three benefits I can see.

1.     Content Creation Can Transform Your Career as an Attorney

Many attorneys become content creators to promote their brand online and generate business. That, by itself, is a perfectly adequate reason to be a content creator, but I’ve found that the benefits gained from creating content run much deeper. For starters, content creation serves as a form of personal continuing education. If you create content about an area of the law, you inevitably will become an authority on that subject through the content creation process. Do it long enough, and you’ll become a go-to expert in that subject matter.

2.      Through Content Creation, You Can Transform the Legal Community

One of the most surprising developments that accompanied my foray into content creation was how often people were interested in discussing my content. At bar association or networking events, friends and colleagues often mention reading an article I wrote or listening to a podcast episode I recorded. That opening frequently serves as the starting point for a productive conversation. Through content creation, lawyers can develop and elevate discussion about the law within their area of expertise.

3.     Content Creation Has the Capacity to Transform the Public

Depending on the subject matter you focus on, content lawyers create and publish online often serves as the lens through which non-lawyers see the law. When a layperson has a legal question, their first step is often to Google the question, hoping to find a how-to guide that cuts through the legalese. And often, they find what they’re looking for, thanks to attorneys who have set aside the time to create content that demystifies legal rules and procedures. Through content creation, lawyers can help level the playing field for those without legal training.

Content creation has the potential to transform your practice, the legal community, and the public. But how do you get started?

Pick a Subject Matter and Medium and Create

Once you decide you want to be a content creator, you'll need to make a few “start-up” decisions. The objective at this stage is to discover what sort of content creation makes the most sense for your interests and practice—to find the fit between the content and the creator if you will.

Pick a Subject Area for Your Content

Very often, this will correspond to your practice area. After all, you spend full workdays becoming an expert in your practice area, and it takes relatively little effort to turn pre-existing expertise into publishable content. But sometimes, you might use content creation as a welcome distraction from your everyday practice. Content creation can be a creative outlet for an interest in the law that doesn’t perfectly overlap with your day-to-day work. Either way, pick a subject area that interests you; otherwise, content creation will become just another chore, often neglected.

Pick a Medium for Your Content

This also is a highly personal choice. The medium must fit the creator. Traditional blogging on a firm website or another platform like Substack might appeal to attorneys who enjoy the writing process. Those who enjoy keeping up on the latest legal developments might consider posting regular updates on LinkedIn or X (formerly Twitter). Still, others might find that podcasts or videos offer more engaging opportunities to create content. These latter mediums are especially well-suited to attorneys who enjoy discussing and unpacking how certain aspects of the law work but are less enthusiastic about the writing process.

(Of course, it would be gross negligence to fail to mention that ABA publications also provide excellent mediums for content creators. Contact an editor to see how you can get involved.)

Make the Time to Get Started

Finally, once you’ve selected a subject matter and a medium, you must make one more decision—you must decide to do it.

Many lawyers work in fast-paced and high-volume roles. Finding time to write an article, record a podcast, or draft a LinkedIn post can be challenging. However, if you’ve carefully selected your subject matter and medium, content creation will be worth the time you set aside. Content creation can be transformative, but you won’t experience the fruits of your content if you don’t start creating. Once you’ve decided to create content, resolve to follow through.

Some Tips to Get Started Creating

It should be clear by this point that the most crucial advice for prospective content creators is to fit the content to the creator. Find a subject area and medium that works for you, and then get to it. As you do so, here are a few tips that may help you get started.

Start Small

I’ve found that setting achievable content creation goals is critical to actually achieving those goals. When I started writing about Wisconsin appellate courts, I started with monthly articles previewing civil cases set for oral argument at the state supreme court. It was an achievable goal. Over time, I learned what worked and what didn’t and how to develop content faster. I gradually grew the scope and frequency of the content I created, eventually expanding to other mediums, such as podcasting. Start small with some achievable goals, and let the content grow from there.

Make Content Creation a Priority

Amid the rigors of practicing law, serving our clients is always the priority. But if you don’t intentionally carve out some time to create content, you’ll never create anything. For most lawyers, it doesn’t work to say you’ll create some content when you have a free afternoon. Odds are that free afternoon will never arrive (or, if it does, you’ll want to use that afternoon for a well-deserved break). Here, too, you have to figure out what works for you. Maybe it’s setting aside an hour or two on Friday mornings for content creation. Maybe it’s checking into a coffee shop for a couple of hours over the weekend to draft an article. Figure out how you can work content creation into your schedule in a way that works for you.

Involve Your Employer

Particularly if you are in private practice, consider talking to your employer about your content creation goals. Firms are often enthusiastic to support content creators. They generally understand that content creation is a positive indication of your enthusiasm for your work. Plus, content creation presents an opportunity to develop business and grow the firm’s brand in the community.

Don’t Be Afraid to Press “Publish”

You’re busy, and so much of what you do requires perfection. Pleadings, briefs, contracts—there’s no room for mistakes. But that blog post or that podcast doesn’t need to be perfect. Yes, you should proofread your work before publishing it, but it’s not worth anguishing over every word. Don’t let perfect content creation be the enemy of good content creation.

Content Creation Can Be Transformative

The title of this article offers a bold premise—that content creation can be transformative. The transformative results aren’t always immediately apparent, but attorneys who set aside time to create content will see the fruits of their labor over time. The key is to get started and put your work out there.

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