Nothing may be more precious to an attorney than tracking billable and non-billable hours. Lawyers are not paid by the hour. Instead, attorneys are paid for their knowledge and time. This often means prioritizing tasks related to a client’s case, office management, and other activities.
Let Me List the Million Other Things I’d Rather Be Doing with My Time
Running a law firm requires an exorbitant amount of work. However, attorneys can only bill for hours spent working on matters directly related to a client. These duties include preparing paperwork, crafting legal letters, or litigating court cases, all of which are very time-consuming.
On the other hand, filing paperwork, balancing the firm’s books, continuing education, and marketing are non-billable hours. These tasks are important and must be completed to run a practice. However, clients cannot be billed for business-only related matters. Writing law firm website content may not be billable, but it is critical to operating a legal practice.
Think of it another way. Lawyers do not enter the field to sit at a desk writing copy. Some lawyers prefer the thrill of arguing their points in front of a judge. Others love the intellectual stimulation that comes with various types of cases. Some attorneys love the law and helping people. On any given day, most attorneys can recite a list of activities they would rather be doing than writing legal content.
How Much Time Do Attorneys Spend Writing Law Firm Content?
Writing law firm content is time-consuming. Think of it in terms of an equation:
- The time commitment = The number of pages x the time it takes to write and edit one page
Suppose a law firm’s website has 20 pages, including landing pages, practice pages, blogs, etc. Let us say each page will take 2 hours to write and 30 minutes to edit and correct. Using the above equation, it will take 50 non-billable hours to write the firm’s content.
In addition, legal websites need to be mindful of SEO (search engine optimization). According to Google’s latest updates, content is more important than ever. For a law firm to remain competitive, it must create well-researched, quality pages. In addition, website content can become stale in a matter of months. To maintain competitive SEO rankings, websites need to continuously put out fresh content and update the old copy.
For example, say a personal injury lawyer uses statics on their practice pages. Using accurate statistics will help tremendously in SEO by lending to the quality and credibility of the page. However, these statistics will need to be updated every year to remain informative or risk being pushed down a search engine’s rankings.
It is also important to keep in mind that SEO changes frequently. Website content needs to be adjusted and adapted to remain relevant. For content writers, this means continuously keeping up with trends in marketing, keyword searches, and search engine algorithms.
For instance, Google makes thousands of adjustments to its search engine a year. From 2009 to 2013, most improvements and updates ranged from a few hundred up to 890. However, since 2016 algorithm updates have increased exponentially. It is not uncommon for Google to make 3,000 to 5,000 changes a year.
On top of litigating cases and all the paperwork involved with running a legal practice, attorneys must find time to complete continuing education on the law itself. To throw in learning Google updates and how to write website content crafted for SEO is overwhelming. Since the time spent would be non-billable, it may not be the best use of an attorney’s valuable time.
Why Lawyers Should not Write Their Own Content
In addition to being time-consuming, writing a law firm’s content is uniquely challenging for attorneys.
Too Much Legalese
Lawyers frequently use legal jargon when crafting documents, contracts, and speaking before a judge. Legal terms do not often translate well to the average person. Legalese is notoriously wordy, long, and complicated. Many terms still use Latin phrases to convey meaning.
Suppose a prospective client is considering divorce and searches for child custody laws. If they are bombarded by sentences like “exclusive custody endows the custodial parent with legal custody over the non-custodial parent,” they may click off the site. Instead, users generally favor sites that use a conversational tone. The same sentence above may be more reader-friendly if worded, “Child custody may be granted to one parent, giving them more legal rights than the other.”
Attorneys are also very well-educated and may find it difficult to simplify legal concepts.
Attorneys Write for the Law, Not SEO
Attorneys are tasked with writing incredibly complex legal documents, including contracts, petitions, and claims. However, writing for SEO requires as much technical ability as it does general writing skills.
Writing for SEO means including the following elements:
- Keywords and keyword phrases
- Meta descriptions
- Alt texts
- Call to actions
- Internal and external links
- Quality sources for statistics and other information
In addition, the writer must skillfully blend all of these important elements into a page seamlessly and in a reader-friendly tone. While lawyers certainly have the aptitude for learning SEO writing, it is usually not the best use of their time.
Attorneys Have Priorities
There are only so many hours in the day. Lawyers are well-equipped with the ability to prioritize their time. Attorneys must juggle nurturing client-lawyer relationships, researching, investigating, preparing legal documents, litigating, and winning cases. Lawyers are paid for their legal advice and abilities.
Writing a law firm’s content may fall far below the list of other priorities, particularly since those activities are billable. However, allowing a website to fall short on content or post sub-par content will hurt the firm in the long run.
Bad content means low search rankings. Low search rankings mean a lack of potential leads. Without leads, a law firm cannot compete in today’s market.
Outsource Your Law Firm’s Content
An attorney’s time is too valuable to be spent on non-billable hours. Outsourcing a law firm’s content is both efficient and effective.
Professional content writers are skilled at translating complex legal matters in a way that the average person can relate to and understand. Moreover, they are skilled at crafting pages specifically tailored for SEO. Attorneys can be free to focus on client-based responsibilities, feeling confident that their business needs are met.