For lawyers, predictions pieces are effective tools for demonstrating thought leadership. Do these four things to ensure your next predictions piece makes a lasting favorable impression on its readers.
Whenever we hit a new period of time — whether it’s a new calendar year, a new court term, a new school year, a new decade, whatever — that is an opportunity for lawyers to demonstrate their thought leadership through predictions in the form of a blog post, bylined article, or client alert.
Predictions pieces provide lawyers an opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership by surveying the legal and business environments, sticking their fingers in the air to determine the direction the wind is blowing, and drawing inferences about what’s to come around the corner regarding the areas of law they practice.
Simply by being someone who provides predictions regarding the area(s) of law you practice, you can establish yourself as a thought leader.
But unfortunately, lawyer predictions pieces are often a dime a dozen. They don’t tackle interesting topics. They rarely push the envelope. And perhaps worst of all, they often provide predictions that most lawyers and moderately educated people could figure out on their own.
So how can you prevent your next predictions piece from being just another lawyer predictions piece? How can you create a predictions piece that leaves a lasting favorable impression on your target audiences, such as your past, current, and prospective clients?
By doing these four things when you craft it.
Regarding those target audiences, make sure that your predictions are focused on what keeps them up at night.
No matter whether you are a lawyer serving tech CEOs, general counsels at life sciences companies, or people seeking divorces, it is important that your predictions piece focuses on issues that aren’t just relevant to your target audiences, but that are particularly important to them and are the kinds of things they worry about.
When your predictions address these topics, you help boost your case as THE lawyer clients need to hire regarding the area(s) of law you practice. That’s because when you focus on what is most important to your target audiences, you are showing them you possess specialized knowledge about THEIR business or their personal situation, and the legal issues they may face because of it.
As a result, your target audiences will perceive you as understanding their legal issues at a deeper level than other lawyers who choose to focus on superficial predictions and issues. That helps you stand out from the pack.
On a related note, it is not enough to make general predictions that border on being cliches. You know what I am talking about: “Democratic presidential administrations tend be more heavy-handed with regulatory enforcement than Republican ones,” or “A divided Congress is unlikely to pass meaningful legislation regarding [insert the area of law you are discussing].”
Instead, you should be specific with your predictions so they position you as authoritative. Specific predictions show that you have deep knowledge and expertise in the area(s) of law you practice. This is another way you can establish yourself as a go-to lawyer.
However, support for specific predictions need not always come directly from you. Sometimes, it makes sense to bolster a specific prediction with material from outside sources. You could refer to third-party research, a news report or two, or even a speech given by a government official or regulator.
By drawing in outside material, you are providing your readers with support for your specific predictions. This helps you establish the credibility of your predictions, and ultimately, the credibility of you as a thought leader.
Weave in your personal experience and expertise
When possible, support your predictions by referencing things you have done, conversations you have had, and/or materials you have published that support your predictions.
For example, if you are making predictions regarding federal regulation of an industry, you could reference:
- Previous articles and client alerts you have written about the issue;
- Presentations you have given;
- Non-privileged conversations you have had with unnamed clients, colleagues, or third-parties regarding the topic; or
- Your previous (public) client work regarding the topic, such as public comments you’ve submitted to regulatory agencies or litigation you’ve been involved in regarding issues that are relevant to your predictions.
As with the specificity point I mentioned above, references to your personal experience and expertise, if made in a manner that does not turn the predictions piece into a personal showcase, adds credibility to your predictions because it shows (or reminds) your target audiences of why both you and your predictions are credible. Additionally, these references are proof that, aside and apart from the predictions, you have the requisite experience and knowledge to help your target audiences with their legal matters.
The majority of predictions pieces are boring. They do not push the envelope. And for that reason, they are not memorable.
Avoid that fate. Connect dots that other lawyers are not willing to connect.
Go out on a limb. Be creative (but reasonable).
Despite what you think or what your colleagues might suggest, no one is keeping score. No one is going to come back to you in a year or two and say, “You know, your predictions were totally off. What were you thinking?”
Instead, they will more likely than not be intrigued by your creative predictions. That alone will separate you from your peers and competitors who are also writing predictions pieces.
Remember, the whole point of a predictions piece is to make a lasting favorable impression on your target audience. It’s okay to go a little bit out of the ordinary and outside the box—so long as you are basing your predictions on knowledge and expertise that your target audiences (i) believe you have and (ii) can see you have thanks to your predictions and your support for those predictions.
A prediction about your next predictions piece
New years, decades, seasons, court terms, and other periods of time provide you with great opportunities to demonstrate your thought leadership by writing about your legal predictions for the area(s) of law you practice.
My prediction is that if you follow the four tips I’ve laid out in this blog post, you will create a predictions piece that stands above the crowd and makes the kind of lasting favorable impression on your target audiences that could lead to them giving you their business.
Bottom line: For lawyers, predictions pieces are effective tools for demonstrating thought leadership. Do these four things to ensure your next predictions piece makes a lasting favorable impression on its readers.
Need help with your 2021 predictions piece? If so, click here to schedule a 30-minute Content Audit to learn if collaborating with an outside writer is the right move for you and your law firm.