legal thought leadershipThe legal marketplace is crowded; thought leadership is one of the most powerful tools for elevating your brand above the rest. With incisive, insightful commentary on issues facing your sector, you can demonstrate the distinctiveness of your approach and provide a valuable gift to clients.

What distinguishes thought leadership from other opinion pieces? With thought leadership, you have a sense of wisdom that has been distilled over time. The tone of the article must communicate a unique perspective, not just over the legal aspects of a particular subject, but also the practical and commercial consequences for his or her clients.

Let’s look at the key features of legal thought leadership pieces:

Give your audience a gift, again and again

Thought leadership can be regarded as a form on online hospitality. It should be provided free of charge and give your readers something of genuine value, without any sales messaging. Think of it as an exercise in brand development, demonstrating your grasp of the wider context in which you work.

To build your brand effectively through thought leadership, your pieces should be written regularly and at a consistent quality level. This is the way to attract a faithful readership. Delivering this kind of content takes resource and careful planning to ensure you do not run dry of ideas.

Show your humanity

Good leaders inspire us not through a robotic level of perfection, but because they manage to achieve great things despite their human limitations. Einstein wasn’t downplaying himself when he said “the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.” Admitting your failings, done in the right way, can help readers connect with your story.

Inspiring thought leadership pieces don’t gloss over areas of uncertainty. If there is a mistake you have learned from, or something you simply do not know, articulate that. Done in the right way, it will be seen as a sign of strength not weakness.

Have a distinctive message

We all have demands on our time. Unless you can pack a concise and meaningful argument into your thought leadership, you risk losing readers. Don’t make the mistake of trying to cover too much in your piece; your key asset is the depth of your knowledge, so use that to provide detailed analysis rather than giving a generalised overview of a wider subject.

If you can make your audience feel better informed and more prepared to shine in the workplace, your thought leadership pieces will start to gain traction. If someone can use your insights to provide a fresh perspective in a meeting, they will be thankful to you, which is the first step in a long and fruitful relationship.

Give tangible examples of your leadership

Readers will respect your opinion more if they know you have a broad perspective. Perhaps you are a school governor, sit on an advisory board or lead a training course in a particular area. Referencing wider interests outside of the usual legal work stream will demonstrate your depth of commitment and show readers you are not just shouting from the sidelines on an issue.

Don’t forget that your writing will likely be read by members of your own organisation too. You can lead by example in showing an interest in the wider context of your work. A rigorous thought leadership piece will help to motivate trainees and paralegals to explore issues for themselves and think of the bigger picture, especially if they are stuck with more routine tasks.

Ben Hollom

September 18, 2015