Writing a Book as an Attorney: The Why and How of It

A potential client finds your website among all the other websites out there. He or she gets to your home page and notices the image of a book cover with a notice. It says, “Get Your Free Copy of 5 Steps to a Better Bankruptcy Filing.” (Feel free to insert your own practice area there with your imagination!) There is a web form and phone number they can use to order it. Your website also has a banner on it that says, “Talk with the attorney who literally ‘wrote the book’ on bankruptcy claims.”

What if the next time you went to meet with an attorney who could be a potential referral source, you had your book with you? Instead of handing over an average business card, you share a guide you’ve written for potential clients. It includes an authoritative look at the legal process and has a few stories of cases you have successfully handled. The attorney walks away with a copy, and you’ve promised to send a few extra to his practice, ensuring future referrals for you.

Or let’s say that you are a family law attorney like Charlie Hofheimer in Virginia Beach. Charlie has a whole network of local therapists who keep his book on divorce for women in their offices, just in case a client needs some advice. The amount of money brought in through the therapist book distribution network versus the cost to print the books makes it a no-brainer to keep plenty of boxes of books handy for when the therapists need more.

Why Every Attorney Should Write a Book

There are few more powerful points of leverage in your marketing than being an author. It provides a level of credibility and authority that few other opportunities can give you. Authors are naturally recognized as experts in their field. It’s just natural human behavior and a societal norm.

From Be The Lawyer Who Wrote the Book On It by Tom and Francine Costello at Word Association, the premier publisher of attorney-written books:

Be the lawyer who is thought of first as the expert in the field— your field. Writing a book about what you know, how you became successful, what you have to offer a client, can be the best investment you make in your career and professional standing.

Potential clients will separate you from the rest of the pack. You are put into a much smaller category than every other attorney out there. After all, you “wrote the book” on their problem.

Your book also gives you the opportunity to attract potential clients who are only beginning to look into hiring an attorney without forcing them to schedule a consultation. Attorneys miss out on dozens or even hundreds of good leads every year by not having an easy way for potential clients to get to know them. If someone calls your practice with a simple legal question, you want to make sure you get something in their hands that binds them to you. Not everyone will be interested in a consultation, but a free copy of your book can be quite enticing. Once you get the information you need to send them the book, you can start following up with the potential client over time until they are finally ready to hire you.

Again, from Be The Lawyer Who Wrote the Book On It:

A lawyer who recently re-ordered his book told us, “That first printing of books you did for me more than paid for itself. A man walked into my office saying, ‘I read your book and I want you to be my lawyer.’ So I took the case and ended up winning a $500,000 settlement for that man. All from the book.”

How Every Attorney Can Write a Book

While writing can be a time consuming endeavor - it doesn’t have to be. Traditional paper and pencil or keyboard-form writing, are options, and potentially productive ones at that. But there are other writing options available to you. Again, from Colstello’s book: “Many authors do well recording their thoughts verbally and having them transcribed into manuscript form.” Sit in front of a simple recorder - it could just be your smartphone - and dictate the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that you hear from callers and in new client meetings.

If you simply aren’t interested in writing or recording a complete book yourself, you might still consider ghostwriting. There are various approaches to ghostwriting including a rough draft of a completed manuscript from which a ghostwriter can create a finished product, or an incomplete manuscript or detailed outline from which a ghostwriter fills in the gaps, all the way to filling out a detailed questionnaire and conducting several telephone interviews to generate a finished product. It’s important to carefully consider all the available options and weigh them against your time, talents, and interest level before engaging in process. With so many different methods and approaches, the viability of authorship is all the more realistic and can position you above other attorneys in your market. After all, you will indeed be the one who “wrote the book on it.”

Word Association is a premium sponsor of the 2015 Great Legal Marketing National Summit and participated in the creation of this article. However, the written words and editorial control were ultimately mine, and as such the views expressed above are completely in line with my own recommendations for attorneys who want to improve their marketing.

Charley Mann
Charley is the Chief Marketing Officer at Great Legal Marketing and believes in results, Results, RESULTS!