In-House Counsel Prefer Client Alerts for Information

Clear & Convincing Feature Article

In-House Counsel Prefer Client Alerts for Information

In-house counsel, inundated with information coming their way every day, prefer client alerts as a source of legal information. When asked in a 2017 survey conducted by Greentarget and Zeughauser Group, "What types of law firm-generated content do you find most valuable?" 87% of in-house counsel answered "client alerts," as opposed to practice-group newsletters (67%), blogs (35%), or website content (22%).

What is a Client Alert?

A client alert is a mass e-mail message addressing a new or developing legal topic—perhaps a recent precedent-setting decision, a pending change to federal or state law, or a trend you've observed. It is sent to in-house counsel for two reasons:

  • Help keep in-house counsel current in the trends in their area of commerce.
  • Keep the law-firm's practice expertise top of mind, assuring a contact when they need legal help.

Considerations When Writing Client Alerts

Lawyers are judged by their written words. Everything from engagement letters, contracts, e-mails, or daily correspondence should be relatively free of legalese, easy to understand, and useful to the reader. Readers should be able to know immediately the topic and why it's important for them. This is especially true of client alerts, since your alert may be one of several the corporate counsel receives.

Start with the headline. If your headline doesn't turn a browser into a reader, time spent writing your words is wasted. A great headline must do more than attract attention, it should promise some kind of benefit for the reader to lure them to continue reading the alert.

Your lede. The most important sentence is your lede. It should be short (25 to 30 words), specific (state key points that appeal to your reader), and use active verbs to make it current. Follow up the main facts with additional information.

Early call-to-action. When action by the client is suggested or required, put that information in the third paragraph. The answer to the question, "Why should I care?" needs to be clear and appear early in the article.

Use Formatting Techniques to Make Things Interesting

  • Use pull quotes, key phrase, or summaries to simplify information.
  • Include links to documents or articles for those who want more information.
  • Use bold, lists, or graphs to break up verbiage.
  • Link to articles or summaries when the firm has written about the topic.

You put a lot of time into developing client alerts—don't waste that time. Make your alerts stand out among the four or five alerts your colleagues receive every day. Client alerts show how your firm communicates and that you are keeping current with the issue. Use client alerts to put your best foot forward.

Roberta GubbinsRoberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section newsletter.

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