We've said it before and we'll say it again: lawyers are writers. Whether it's a motion to suppress, an email to a client or draft legislation, the legal craft is often a written craft. Sure, your Brief in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment might not be a literary masterpiece, but it's at least a testament of your skill with the written word.
So why not put that skill to better use? Non-legal writing, whether it's the general public, other practitioners or potential clients, can help lawyers build a name, establish themselves as experts, and increase their credibility. Heck, you might actually enjoy it.
Writing as Self Promotion
Academics are familiar with the phrase "publish or perish." It represents the idea that the continued publication of scholarly articles is essential to maintaining an academic career --- the pressure to pad your C.V. has grown so strong that many academics pay to have their pieces published, even in respected journals. Lawyers, you don't need to do that.
In fact, when it comes to writing, lawyers can consider themselves much better off than their Ivory Tower peers. Generally, abstaining from writing won't threaten your livelihood. But if you don't write, you will be foregoing an opportunity to promote yourself, your knowledge and your work.
What and Where to Write
The reasons for writing are simple. The more quality writing you put out, and the more people see your name, the more credible you become in your field. It might take years of litigation to establish yourself as the premier Bird Law expert in the Great Plains. Submit 1,000 words on laws affecting avian breeding grounds to the local Audubon Society's newsletter and -- poof -- you've established yourself in the eyes of those who care.
But where should you write? If you're knowledgeable about a topic of local or national concern, submitting op-eds to newspapers and magazines can be helpful. Most lawyers, though, will start with more modest goals. Professional magazines and newsletters provide a great forum for lawyer writing. Going after regional and special interest publications is a great way to reach potential clients. There's tons of industry-specific periodicals hungry for content, from the Oil and Gas Journal to the Journal of Ophthalmic Prosthetics, focused on artificial eyes.
Of course, don't overlook the Internet. Legal blogging, websites, and online journals are also a great way to get your name out -- and up your Google results.