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Build better bonds with these five groups of people by co-authoring thought leadership with them

Co-authoring thought leadership is a strategic way to strengthen your relationships with those people you think could help you build your practice and book of business.


I am constantly pushing the attorneys I ghostwrite for to co-author thought leadership articles with strategic co-authors instead going it alone.

When they bring in another person or two as co-authors, they use the publication of the article, as well as the process of brainstorming and editing it (and writing it, if they don’t use a ghostwriter) to build those relationships.

Here are five groups of people that attorneys (and any other professional service providers) can strengthen bonds with by co-authoring thought leadership with them.



Group #1: Colleagues

Co-authoring thought leadership is the remedy for attorneys’ aversion to cross-selling their colleagues.

We often hear about how attorneys struggle—or refuse—to consistently cross-sell their colleagues to clients and referral sources. But when they co-author an article with a colleague, they are naturally cross-selling each other’s services because they are each contributing their knowledge and wisdom to the article. The possibilities for mixing and matching colleagues are only limited by an attorney’s imagination: deals attorneys collaborating with their intellectual property colleagues to discuss IP considerations when doing a deal, real estate attorneys collaborating with their tax colleagues to discuss tax issues in real estate transactions, litigation attorneys collaborating with their financial services/corporate colleagues to discuss trends in litigation regarding trendy investment products, and so on.

Perhaps most intriguingly, by collaborating with colleagues on thought leadership, attorneys can team up to create thought leadership that is strategically focused on clients or industries they have made a concerted effort to target though their marketing and business development efforts.

Group #2: Past, current, and prospective clients

What better way to strengthen your relationship with a past or current client, or to continue to build a relationship with a current or prospective client, than by co-authoring thought leadership with them?

When you co-author thought leadership with clients, you have the opportunity to cover legal issues, business issues, and societal issues that are important to them. The sneakily brilliant thing here is that not only are you prioritizing issues that are important to them, which reflects positively on you, but you are showing off to them your knowledge and wisdom regarding those issues. They are getting a reminder, or a preview, of why you are the best attorney suited to work on their current or future matters.

In addition, you’re giving your past, current, or prospective clients a chance to promote themselves, which is something they may not be able to do often (or ever) for professional reasons—and is something they likely would appreciate, whether they admit it or not.

Group #3: Past, current, and prospective referral sources

As is the case with clients, co-authoring thought leadership with past, current, and prospective referral sources can be a boon to your relationships with them.

It doesn’t matter whether these referral sources are attorneys or not. If you can tackle issues of concern for your shared audiences by teaming up with a referral source—think estate planning attorneys and financial planners talking about financial planning, or personal injury attorneys and chiropractors talking about recovering from an injury—you and your referral sources get the opportunity to market yourselves to each other’s audiences. By teaming up with a referral source, you increase the size of the audience likely to consume your thought leadership, while ensuring that the additional audience is relevant to you because it belongs to a referral source.

But more important than increasing your audience size, you are further ingratiating yourself to your referral sources because you are adding value to the relationship and going above and beyond the way that probably 95% of their referral sources nurture their relationships with them.

Group #4: Influential industry figures

If you want to connect with influential industry figures with whom you have no, or a fledgling, relationship, co-authoring thought leadership can bring you closer.

It’s counterproductive to cold call or cold email influential people in the legal industry or the industries you serve to network with them without being able to provide something of value from the get-go. But if you approach them with an opportunity to co-author thought leadership that you’re aiming to publish in a prominent publication, you are providing that thing of value. When you do so, you should offer to do the heavy lifting when it comes to writing the article and you should propose a topic that is relevant to them and their target audiences.

When you go this route, you are setting the table for them to publish thought leadership, and unless you have a terrible reputation, you are making them an offer they’d be hard-pressed to refuse.

Group #5: Other people in your network

If there are people in your network who are not yet clients or referral sources, who are not your colleagues, and who do not appear to be influential in the legal industry or the industries you serve, but who you think could be, co-authoring thought leadership with them is an effective way to break the ice.

You can follow the same playbook you would follow for influential industry figures. Reach out to them, offer to do the heavy lifting, and offer up potential topics that you think they would stand to benefit from covering in a piece of thought leadership. If this is a relatively new contact, you might consider talking through potential topics to avoid missing the mark with a topic you were merely guessing would be relevant to them.

If you approach people in your network with an offer to co-author thought leadership, you will quickly move up their leaderboard of most promising network contacts, which will only lead to good things in the future.

Utilize co-authored thought leadership to strengthen bonds

Thought leadership is, obviously, an effective marketing and business development tool for attorneys. But co-authoring thought leadership can also be an effective, narrowly focused way to strategically build relationships with particular individuals.

When it comes to thought leadership, you need not always go it alone. Next time you’re thinking about writing a thought leadership article, consider who else you know who might want to get in on the action by participating in what is a mutually beneficial marketing and business development opportunity.

Thinking about bringing on an outside writer to help your law firm strategize and create compelling thought-leadership marketing and business development content? Click here to schedule a 30-minute Content Strategy Audit to learn if collaborating with an outside writer is the right move for you and your firm.

Wayne Pollock, a former Am Law 50 senior litigation associate, is the founder of Copo Strategies, a legal services and communications firm, and the Law Firm Editorial Service, a content strategy and ghostwriting service for lawyers and their law firms. The Law Firm Editorial Service helps Big Law and boutique law firm partners, and their firms, grow their practices and prominence by collaborating with them to strategize and ethically ghostwrite book-of-business-building marketing and business development content.

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