This article is written by Aditi Katyan, a lawyer who has extensive experience of working with startups and SMEs regarding their legal needs, founder of a law blog Little Law Book, and a former student of ours. We are proud to present a wonderful and very relevant article by our alumni.
With the myriad responsibilities, while scaling their companies, it’s often difficult for Entrepreneurs and Startup Founders (a.k.a Decision Makers) to stay abreast of new regulations and complex legal requirements that may impact their business.
I saw my entrepreneur husband losing his sleep over tax implications for the export of services, employment disputes and co-founder exit that could have been avoided if he had actionable legal advice on-time.
To help my husband and other decision-makers like him, I started publishing my legal writings as a blog on LittleLawBook.com.
Before I talk more about my legal writing strategy, I would like to talk a bit more about my background.
This will help you in understanding why I developed a particular writing style for my legal blog.
How I became the head legal at 2 companies?
In my six years of legal professional career, I have already been Legal Head at two companies.
Both of these companies were having revenue of more than Rs 250+ Crore per year and more than 120 people on the payroll. Both the companies have a well-established business model with clients from India as well as abroad.
In my job, I was advising CXOs of both the companies on a regular basis and led many negotiations.
It felt good. I thought I am doing something useful. And I felt important too!
But now I think why I was hired in the first place.
Before I joined those companies, legal matters were handled by their respective accounts teams. Almost all the contracts that they had were copy-and-paste templates from the internet. Their negotiations were primarily around money involved without much thoughts to liabilities, indemnity, and jurisdictions. In rare cases, they would hire an external law firm, preferably who can provide some more contract templates.
At some point in their respective journeys, these companies felt a need for an in-house lawyer. They went out to hire the cheapest ones they could afford. This usually means someone with as little experience as possible to sound like a lawyer. And I fit the requirements.
Now, I do feel little embarrassed 🙁
But there is a far bigger problem here.
Google: the lawyer on-demand
What you do when you want answers?
Even my five years old knows it.
What you do when you want answers to a legal problem?
You Google, again!
“ESOP template,” “Resolve co-founder dispute,” and “How to protect my business IP.”
Nothing wrong in it. This is how most of us get day-to-day answers for most of the things.
Except legal issues are not your daily common things.
Two things happen when you rely on Google for legal advise:
- You land on a site giving you free templates, which you can quickly customise by changing names, dates and some other information. This works when things work. But when things fall apart, you leave yourself vulnerable to future legal issues.
- You land on a site which seems to answer what you were looking for but is written in Latin. What is adjudication, injunction, jurisprudence, Section 27, tort or Jurisdiction? And why this page runs a mile in length?
Let’s talk more about point 2 above.
Most of the noteworthy legal sites today, which details case law or discuss a legal topic, are written by lawyers and for lawyers. Hence, they freely use legal jargons and legal writing format.
But such “by lawyers for lawyers” sites throws off most of the non-legal readers.
And my non-legal readers are CXOs, Entrepreneurs and Startup Founders, who came to those sites in search of their answers to a legal problem.
These are the people who make decisions. They are the decision makers.
They need to get a better sense of the legal issues that they are facing. They need to comprehend the complexity and understand the gravity of the problem.
They seek answers in plain, simple, day-to-day English.
Instead what they get? Either simplistic templates or cryptic latin.
So what do these decision-makers do?
Either they set the problem aside to be dealt with in future. Or, hire someone like me and make her the Legal Head!
4-Step Strategy to Write Legal Articles
I love Google. I depend so much on it every day.
Everybody loves Google!
With the advancement of AI and voice search, we may soon even be able just to ask, “OK Google, find me a share purchase agreement.”
We love Google!
So how can we tell millions of people not to Google for legal advise?
That change won’t work. We can’t stop the use of technology.
But we can adapt to Google and technology, in general.
We can change our legal writing style to make it more discoverable on Google and easily readable by non-lawyers who are searching for them.
Here are some tips and insights from my experience in writing 60+ articles on LittleLawBook.com:
Step 1: Pick Your Topic
What to write about? This usually is the most difficult part, especially for someone who is just starting on writing.
Legal space is vast and complex. You may not have a great understanding of many of the topics. You may not have sufficient experience or a unique perspective on most of the issues.
Please remember that innovation happens slowly. Your chances of coming up with a truly new, unique content idea are pretty low in most of the legal areas.
One way for you to start is to take someone else’s idea and build on it. Give it a new angle and add some unique value.
For example, check-out Must Read the section on iPleader Blog. That would give you some good ideas about the topic you may write about.
Your article won’t be the first article or the best article on the topic , but that would definitely be unique as that’s written from your point of view and your unique experience.
Step 2: Research Your Article
Once you have a topic at hand, now it’s time to research about it.
Let’s say you want to write about Trademark.
Go to Google and type Trademark in the search box. Don’t press enter or click search. A pop-up will open listing popular searches on Trademark.
2.1 Popular searches on Google
Here are some popular searches on Trademark that Google told me about:
- Trademark registration process
- Trademark symbol
- Trademark examples
- …. [some more keywords]
These are the keywords related to Trademark that people are searching on Google. So you may cover these keywords as sub-topics in your article.
2.2 People also ask on Google
Now pay attention to a section titled “People also ask”:
- How do I trademark a name and logo?
- What are examples of trademark?
- How do I register a trademark in […]?
- What are the three types of trademark?
- What are the advantages of registering a trademark?
- … [many more questions]
So these are the question related to Trademark that people are searching on Google? Should you answer these questions in your article? Definitely yes!
2.3 Related search on Google
Now scroll down Google search page and locate section titled “Searches related to trademark”:
- Trademark status
- Trademark application
- … [some more keywords]
You may find some more sub-topics and keywords which you have not covered in the above two steps. Include them as well to make your article more comprehensive on the topic of your choice.
2.4 Top search result pages on Google
You can click on top 10 search results that Google shows and check that those articles are about? Which topics have they covered? Can you add some angle to those? Can you increase value by adding some recent trends, regulations or examples?
By following above 4 steps to research your article, you would have a lot of good points to write about under the topic that you have chosen.
Now here is the fun part. Since your article would comprise of questions about Trademark that people have been searching on Google, you would start getting organic, and free, traffic for your articles!
By following the above steps, you would be not only able to write an outstanding article but also get free traffic. Isn’t that amazing!
SIDE NOTE: My articles on LittleLawBook.com are already getting over a thousand visitors a month from Google. So the above research technique does work!
Step 3: Writing the Article
Once you have your research, it’s time to write your post.
Please keep in mind that most of your readers will read your article on either a mobile phone or a laptop.
Here are some writing tips to keep in mind to make your post more readable on a mobile or a laptop.
- Use short paragraphs comprising of 2-4 sentences
- Use short sentences comprising of 12-20 words
- Avoid unnecessary words and jargons
- Avoid passive tense
- Use bullet points
- Prefer conversational tone (use “You” and “I”).
- Make your writing visual by using highlights, bold text, CAPS or Italics.
- Beak a long title into a title with several sub-titles
Step 4: Publish Your Article
iPleader Blog is an excellent way to start publishing your articles. Tons of visitors visit this blog every month, and your article has a good chance of getting discovered.
As you gain more experience, you can publish on medium.com and, still further, set up your own blog.