What great legal content looks like, with an example

by Stratton Craig

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More and more law firms are adopting a content marketing strategy to showcase their expertise. They know how effective it is at attracting new clients and strengthening relationships with existing clients. But this means there’s a lot more content out there competing for attention, and only the best of it will be read, shared, and read again.
Legal marketers and copywriters therefore need to get content marketing right for it to be of value to their firm, but just how do they do it? We show you by exploring one great example from Allen & Overy, a Magic Circle law firm.
With content, legal firms can learn a lot from Magic Circle firms
Magic Circle law firms – the content wizards
In an earlier opinion piece we explained that one of the reasons why Magic Circle law firms are so respected is because they know how to show their expertise through content. They get content right by thinking like an editor – not a law firm – from the very start of the content marketing process. Here’s how Allen & Overy do it so well.
They make it easy to access expertise
With so much ‘noise’ out there, an important part of producing great digital content is to make it easy to find. Allen & Overy have offices on every continent but only a single website where businesses can get all the information they need about the firm. This includes a dedicated ‘publications’ section of the website where content is searchable and segmented by topic and location. In one single place people can quickly access insights on specific and current topics that relate to a defined market.
By making it easy to search through a large volume of relevant content, Allen & Overy know people will return, as long as what they produce is well written and a worthwhile read.
They follow the ‘Four Cs’
The ‘Four Cs’ guide is our approach to legal content. They are: clear, compelling, cohesive and compliant. Let’s look at a specific example that combines them all. Here’s a link to a recent public report titled Global Trends in Merger Control Enforcement which explores record levels of mergers and acquisitions in 2015 and the impact competition law had on these deals.
The landing page gives a short introduction to the report and a brief overview of the main findings, so the reader can quickly decide if this is relevant and useful to them. Beneath that are eight key insights pulled out into a digestible graphic. They provide a quick summary of the findings and something to takeaway even if the main piece hasn’t been read. There’s even a clever play on words to give the content some vigour:
(Green) light at the end of the tunnel: not all in-depth investigations result in antitrust intervention
But the tone is still right for a brand that needs to communicate trust and experience.
Within the document itself, a brief introduction sets the context for the piece. Pages six and seven present the main findings in the form of pie charts, to bring clarity to the accompanying copy.
Looking at the words, from the very first paragraph we see evidence of written devices that are commonly used to enliven copy. Short and long sentences are linked together with coordinators to make the content concise and prevent the reader from tripping up as they process information:
As M&A activity remained at record levels in 2015, we have seen executives continuing to gain the confidence to engage in more aggressive and strategic deals. And antitrust authorities have responded.
And when a technical term is used, it is explained in a way that anyone could understand:
Last year over EUR60 billion of deals (20 transactions in all) were frustrated (i.e. were prohibited or abandoned) as a result of antitrust concerns.
The copy is data-heavy, but everything that needs to be is cited in the text and the source is shown as a footnote to comply with intellectual property rights:
The value of deals frustrated represents around 2% of total global M&A in 20152
Meanwhile, the entire report is built around those eight key insights we mentioned earlier, which brings a cohesive and logical structure to the piece.
Overall, Allen & Overy’s Global Trends in Merger Control Enforcement succeeds as a piece of content because it ticks all of the boxes an editor would need it to. The topic is relevant and timely, while the copy is clear, concise, compelling and compliant. What’s more, it is not only helpful to the reader but also raises the profile of Allen & Overy as a leading law firm. Everyone’s a winner.
Aspiring legal firms could learn a lot from how Magic Circle firms approach content. We help practices of all sizes to make their own expertise known through content, and you can contact us today on +44 (0)20 7842 8240 for more insights and guidance.

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