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Here’s how to solve corporate law firms’ “speed vs. depth” client alert dilemma

Use this two-pronged approach to go both fast and deep with your law firm’s client alerts

There is a debate raging among those of us who nerd out on content marketing and thought leadership marketing efforts for corporate law firms. This particular debate centers on client alerts. 

Law firms typically write and distribute clients alerts when there are new court decisions, proposed or enacted legislation, or administrative agency actions that could be relevant to their clients today or down the road. 

By promptly notifying clients about these legal developments, typically via email blasts, lawyers and their law firms can use client alerts to keep their clients up to date on legal developments AND position themselves and their firms as authorities regarding the areas of law they practice. 

Thus, client alerts can be both a client service and marketing/business development tool.

The two schools of thought with client alerts

There are two schools of thought when it comes to client alerts. 

The first is that lawyers and their firms should get their client alerts out as soon as possible after a legal development becomes public. The thought being that doing so will show your clients that you and your law firm are on top of legal developments that could impact them.

Being the first, or among the first, lawyers or law firms to reach a client’s inbox could be seen as proof that a lawyer or law firm is particularly on top of legal developments that could impact that client, and thus deserves their business.

The benefit of this approach is, obviously, when you are among the first lawyers or law firms to get into your client’s inbox, you will be perceived as being on top of the legal news, which reflects well on you and your firm in the eyes of your clients. 

The problem with this approach is that a lawyer or law firm probably isn’t going to get into much depth in their client alert. They simply won’t have the time to analyze the development, think about what it means for clients, and then write a thoughtful and informative (but not necessarily overly long) alert.

The second school of thought is to wait a few business days, perhaps up to a full week, and send a client alert that is more substantive and robust and which actually provides targeted analysis regarding the legal development that is relevant to the recipient.

Naturally, the key benefit of this approach is that you and your law firm are able to give your clients a meaty, substantive analysis of a legal development. By exploring the “so what” and the “now what” of the development, and explaining how it might affect your client, you are coming across as thoughtful and knowledgeable about your client’s business, their industry, and the law. 

The problem with this approach is that you and your firm will almost certainly be a few days behind your competitors who subscribe to the first school of thought and got into your clients’ (or other members of your target audiences’) email inboxes earlier because they prioritized speed over substance and depth. 

You can have your client alert cake and eat it too

Many lawyers and law firms choose speed OR depth when it comes to their client alerts. 

But here’s the funny thing: they don’t have to—and neither do you. 

You can have speed AND depth. Here’s how.

First, send an email out as soon as you become aware of a legal development that could be relevant to your clients. It should be a short email—maybe two or three paragraphs long—explaining what the legal development was and giving a basic summary of the results: what the court’s ruling was, what the legislation calls for, what the administrative agency action is, etc.

This email should go out within a short time (I’m talking a few hours here) after you or a colleague first learns about a particular legal development.

This ensures you and your firm will be seen by your clients as being on top of legal developments that could impact them.

But at the end of the email, you or a colleague should include a sentence that teases a forthcoming deeper analysis into the development and what it could mean for your clients, their industries, etc.

That’s because, a few business days later, your firm will send a second client alert that contains a more robust, more thoughtful analysis of the legal development. This can be the traditional in-depth client alert that lawyers and their firms would typically distribute after having had an opportunity to review and analyze a particular legal development.

This two-pronged approach gives law firms the best of both worlds when it comes to client alerts. It allows them to notify their clients early on, soon after the development is made public, thus getting credit for being among the first law firms to provide the client with a heads up that the development happened. 

But then on the back end, firms also get the benefit of providing a thoughtful analysis of the legal development. They get to show off their analytical chops and their knowledge of their clients’ industries and the issues that keep those clients up at night.

Consider adopting the “client alert two-step” at your firm

When it comes to client alerts at corporate law firms, those firms generally feel they must choose between publishing alerts quickly or publishing in-depth alerts. 

But with this “client alert two-step,” they don’t have to choose. 

They can have speed and depth. And most importantly, they will look great in the eyes of the recipients of these client alerts —which should include past, present, and prospective clients—because they are promptly AND substantively keeping clients informed of legal developments of relevance to them.

Interested in getting outside help strategizing and writing client alerts? Click here to schedule a 30-minute Content Strategy Audit to learn if collaborating with an outside strategist and writer is the right move for 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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