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Your thought leadership strategy should consider angles, not just topics

When you cover thought leadership topics from strategic angles, your thought leadership will more persuasively demonstrate that you have solutions to your current and prospective clients’ legal and business problems.

Effective thought leadership comes from focusing on the right angles, not just covering the right topics.

The point of thought leadership for attorneys is, of course, to show off their knowledge and wisdom, and to create relevant, valuable, and compelling content that makes a positive impression on their target audiences, such as their past, current, and prospective clients and referral sources.

But creating relevant, valuable, and compelling content requires attorneys to do more than choose a relevant topic to cover. They need to strategically cover particular angles related to that topic.

In other words, it’s not just what attorneys talk about, it’s how they talk about it.

An angles approach in action

Let’s say you are a white collar criminal defense attorney who wants to write an article about internal investigations at corporations. Let’s go one step further and say you want to cover insider trading internal investigations because you would like to handle more of those matters.

You could certainly write a primer regarding these investigations.

Or, you could write about best practices when it comes to such investigations.

You could write about misconceptions when it comes to these investigations.

Or, you could write about red flags organizations need to be wary of when conducting such an investigation.

You could write an article that compares and contrasts different ways to conduct insider trading internal investigations.

Or, perhaps, you recently completed an internal investigation for a client. You could write about a handful of the hurdles you encountered and how you worked around them—without, of course, divulging privileged or confidential discussions or information.

You could write about trends concerning internal investigations, perhaps with an eye toward how regulators and prosecutors are viewing internal investigations when they are looking at companies that are currently under investigation or that they might investigate down the road.

The strategic pursuit of angles

I just gave you seven different angles you could take regarding one particular topic. The angle you choose would depend on the knowledge and wisdom that you and your colleagues have regarding internal investigations, as well as what you are trying to communicate to your current and prospective clients (and perhaps referral sources).

Primers and “best practices” articles, for example, would demonstrate familiarity with a topic. But “misconceptions,” “red flags,” and “how we did it”-type articles would demonstrate intimate knowledge about that topic.

That’s because in order to talk knowledgeably about misconceptions and red flags, and to discuss an instance where you overcame obstacles, you would need to have had several opportunities to handle legal matters that exposed you to misconceptions, red flags, and other first-hand experience regarding the topic you’re covering.

In addition, it would be helpful for you to know what issues your current and prospective clients are looking for assistance with, and the kinds of problems they’ve had in the past regarding a particular topic you will be addressing. If, for example, you knew your clients had difficulties handling particular legal matters in the past, a “best practices” or “red flags” article might more persuasively demonstrate your knowledge and wisdom regarding how to resolve that kind of legal matter than other angles you could take when discussing it.

The benefits of strategically pursuing angles to your thought leadership topics

There are two main benefits to focusing on angles and not just topics when it comes to attorneys’ thought leadership.

First, focusing on angles communicates to clients that you’re knowledgeable and wise about particular aspects of the legal and business issues they may be facing.

Sure, many attorneys could write a primer about internal investigations. Many could write an article about a recent court case or a recent administrative agency action that somehow concerned internal investigations.

But as I explained above, by taking particular angles and getting into the weeds of an issue, you demonstrate intimate knowledge about that topic.

Second, approaching topics you cover in your thought leadership from different angles is going to differentiate you from your competitors.

Look closely at the thought leadership you peruse or consume from other attorneys and their law firms. Few attorneys and firms understand how to apply a strategic angle to their thought leadership.

If they have a thought leadership strategy (that’s a big “if”), it will almost certainly be the tried-and-true method of focusing on legal developments, such as court decisions, new legislation, and administrative agency actions.

An angles approach works best when you know what’s on a client’s mind

If you want to come up with effective angles that will resonate with clients (and referral sources), you should have a sense of what legal issues and business issues your clients are facing.

What kinds of legal issues and business issues are they and their industry focused on?

What about these issues is weighing on them?

To figure this out, you could ask your current clients and prospective clients about the types of legal and business issues they’re wrestling with.

You could also read industry publications that cover their industry, or you could monitor what executives and thought leaders in their industries are talking about on social media and through their own thought leadership.

The better you can sync the angles you take in your thought leadership with the legal and business issues on their minds, the more persuasively you can show clients through the angles you’re taking with your thought leadership that you and your colleagues are the right choice to help them with those issues.

Angles-based thought leadership is next-level thought leadership

When you strategically approach thought leadership by taking angles when you discuss certain topics, you are more closely aligning the work you do and the knowledge and wisdom you have with your clients’ legal and business needs. This helps transform your thought leadership from a 1-to-many marketing tool to a 1-to-1 business development tool.

This transformation will set your thought leadership—and you—apart from your competitors, and communicate to your current and prospective clients that you should be their top choice to help them navigate their legal and business issues.

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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