Why you should ease off legalese in your blog posts

September 14, 2012

Have you ever had a conversation with a non-lawyer client, friend or family member and used a legal term like “res ipsa loquitur” or “respondeat superior”? Chances are the person you were talking to stared back at you blankly. That disconnect is exactly what you want to avoid when communicating with your blog audience, which is why it’s important to use legalese sparingly.

After three years of law school and your subsequent law practice, you have become an expert in your field. While your clients will rely on this wealth of knowledge as you represent them, they also expect you to be able to explain legal concepts to them in terms they understand. The same is true for your blog audience.

When an average reader comes across your blog, he or she will likely be looking for easily digestible legal knowledge. Therefore, your blog posts should sound more like a conversation you’d have with a client than an article you’d submit to a legal journal. The problem is that lawyers are used to writing technically, so the transition may not come easily.

Here are three tips to keep in mind for writing reader-friendly blog posts:

1. Pretend you are writing to a non-lawyer friend. While you don’t want to be overly casual, remember that the tone should be conversational instead of purely informational. Your readers want to feel like you’re writing for THEM.

2. Be clear and concise. Lawyers have a tendency to be long-winded in their writing, but more isn’t always better. In order to grab your reader’s attention and hold it until you get your point across, clarity and brevity are key.

3. Do a quick read-through for unexplained legal terms. If you spot any legal terms in your post that aren’t common knowledge (i.e. res ipsa loquitur or respondeat superior), make sure that you have provided a simple definition.

Finally, remember that your blog posts are not supposed to be great pieces of literature that are studied a hundred years from now. Blogs are supposed to be living, breathing things that provide readers with enough information as possible before becoming boring.

Keep these tips in mind to achieve more effective communication with your blog audience — and maybe even your clients, friends and family, too!