In fact, lawyers SHOULD use jargon in their thought leadership content | Law Firm Editorial Service

When using the right kind of jargon, lawyers can connect with current and potential clients through thought leadership content.


Updated August 2, 2022

There comes a time in your life when you learn that certain rules can be broken – and breaking those supposed rules can often be a net positive.

When you learned you didn’t have to wait 45 minutes to go swimming after eating, you could spend more time playing with your friends.

When you learned you could read in dim light without damaging your vision, you could squeeze in some quality nighttime reading.

And when you learned you could go out in the cold with wet hair, you might spend less time getting ready in the morning.

Today you will learn that you can break another rule without consequences – and get benefits.

This rule ? You should not use jargon in your marketing and business development content, especially your thought leadership content.

Jargon has a bad reputation.

Before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about the lingo.

Jargon is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the technical terminology or idiom characteristic of a special activity or group”, or “obscure and often pretentious language marked by circumlocutions and long words”. For our purposes here, I refer to the first definition.

If you’re like most lawyers, you’ve been told at some point in your career to avoid using jargon whenever you write.

You’ve been told that eliminating jargon makes your writing easier to read and understand, which in turn makes it more compelling and persuasive.

The more compelling your marketing and business development writing is, the more likely past, current, and potential clients and referral sources will find you competent and send you new questions.

That’s great advice – if we’re talking about legalese, that is, legalese. Legalese is an obstacle to a reader’s understanding of your writing. Even when writing to fellow lawyers, legalese obscures your efforts to communicate effectively.

But if we’re talking about the specific lingo of the industries your customers are in, well, that’s a whole different ball game. Suddenly, your use of this jargon doesn’t repel your readers; it brings them closer.

Here are three reasons why you absolutely must use your clients’ industry-specific lingo in your thought leadership marketing and business development content.

1. Jargon shows that you know your customers’ industries well.

Do you remember those intimate pranks you had with your friends from high school or college? Aside from how funny these jokes might be today, jokes played a big role. They were a way for you and your friends to find out who was in that group of friends. Jokes made friends bond better and, just as important, kept others away from the group.

Think about the different groups of friends you had then and have today. I’m willing to bet everyone had their own jokes or code words that weren’t shared by your other friend groups.

This is one of the reasons why you should use industry-specific jargon in your thought leadership content. This communicates to your audience – presumably past, current and potential clients in particular industries – that you are an insider like them and part of their group.

By using the jargon, you demonstrate your knowledge of their industries. It’s the equivalent of referencing a joke with your friends.

Using jargon builds your credibility and, when combined with the thoughtful analysis of your content, positions you as an authority on the specific business and legal challenges your audience faces. It’s shorthand for being perceived as knowledgeable about their industry.

Of course, your use of jargon can only take you a long way. If your content doesn’t deliver the goods in the form of industry-specific knowledge and analysis, your audience will sniff it out and not see you as a credible authority.

2. Jargon allows you to make effective deep dives.

Another reason why you should use industry-specific jargon is that it allows you to explore complex topics effectively.

When you use industry-specific technical terms and don’t have to explain them, you can get to the heart of the matter faster. You can devote fewer words to making your readers aware of the things and concepts embedded in these terms.

When you are freed from having to include these explanations and can assume a basic level of knowledge from your audience, your content can also accommodate more thoughtful and complex discussions.

Want an example of this? Look no further than articles in professional legal industry publications written by lawyers.

Because they assume that their target audience – lawyers who might send them cases directly or through referrals – understands the areas of law in which they practice and how legal proceedings work, you’ll see most contributors jump right into the weeds without having to explain certain concepts. .

When they do, they can get into deep analysis without getting bogged down in basic coverage.

3. Jargon allows you to write precisely targeted thought leadership content.

When you know how your target audiences talk about the business and legal issues you’d like to be hired to address, you can use lingo strategically to create content that precisely targets both the types of customers and the types of questions your business asks. want more. of.

For example, suppose your company wants to retrieve compliance work from pharmaceutical companies, particularly as it relates to their sensitive electronic data.

You will want to show the legal counsel for these companies through your thought leadership content that you and your colleagues would be the right choice to handle this work. But you’ll also want to persuade the compliance and technology staff at these companies that you and your colleagues are up to the task.

By incorporating into your content the jargon used by compliance and technology personnel regarding their data systems and compliance efforts, you can speak to them directly and demonstrate to them why your company would be the right company to handle a type of issue. particular.

Use jargon, but do it responsibly.

One of the downsides of using industry-specific jargon in your thought leadership marketing and business development content is that if you’re not careful, your content can quickly turn into a thicket of terms. industrial illegible and indigestible. When this happens, even the people you’re trying to reach by speaking their language won’t sit around and read what you have to say.

When your pieces of content are heavy with industry jargon, you’ll want to write in an airy style that helps a reader skim through your analysis or arguments without getting tripped up.

You shouldn’t write paragraphs that span three-quarters of a page.

You shouldn’t write long sentences when breaking them into two or three separate sentences will increase readability.

You need to vary the length and structure of your sentences to keep your readers interested.

Overall, you’ll need to offset a heavy dose of jargon by making your content particularly easy to read for your target audiences.

Jargon can increase the effectiveness of your thought leadership content.

Jargon, for lack of a better word, is good. The jargon is right. The lingo works.

When writing thought leadership marketing and business development content targeted at particular audiences, include industry-specific jargon that those audiences use in their business dealings.

This will show that you know the industries of these audiences well.

This will help you make effective deep dives.

And it will allow you to write highly targeted content for those particular audiences.

But perhaps more importantly, when you use jargon in your thought leadership content, it will help that content stand out from the glut of bland, mundane content that your peers and competitors are posting. This content speaks to no one in particular and does little to persuade a reader that the author and his law firm are qualified to handle the reader’s next legal matter.

But your use of jargon will do a lot of that persuading for you.

Denise W. Whigham