After decades of writing for a living, I’ve reached the conclusion that writing cannot, in fact, be taught. Either you do it, or you don’t.
I do it. For attorneys and law firms.
As long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by words. Maybe not “fascinated” – obsessed. It’s kind of all I know how to do. One of my earliest memories, is of being put to bed by my father, then illicitly reading by the light the came through the crack beneath my bedroom door. I almost never got caught.
This kind of stuff kept happening. I was editor of my high school newspaper as a sophomore. And a junior. And a senior. Nobody had ever done that before. In my twenties, my idea of a great night was to sit down at an IBM Selectric, and write someone a long letter.
I worked for Conde Nast magazines in New York. I studied copywriting at the School of Visual Arts. I won first place in the J. Walter Thompson copywriting competition and was the trained in legal research and writing in law school. I also worked as a professional copy editor, alert for a living to spelling, capitalization, and inconsistent punctuation.
Plus — I went to law school. A lot of writers struggle with creating content for attorneys and firms, because the material can be very technical. The writing ends up being either overly general, fundamentally off the mark, or in need of so much supervision that the attorney might as well write it herself. I don’t have that problem. I speak fluent lawyer, and can handle the most technical topics imaginable. Tax? M&A? Motion practice? Procedural topics? Bring it.
A partial list of what I’ve written:
- RFP responses
- Ghostwritten articles
- Website content, including attorney bios, practice group descriptions, industry group descriptions.
- White papers
- Legal briefs and pleadings
- Blog posts
Writing’s twin, of course, is editing. There’s an argument to be made that they’re actually the same thing. I do both. In either case, you start with something decent (hopefully) and chisel away at it until it’s great. Sometimes it’s surprisingly easy, and sometimes unbelievably hard, but in the end, the goal is an arrangement of words that communicates exactly what you want – concisely, compellingly, engagingly and memorably.
 Although I cannot, and should not, draft legal pleadings, thanks to law school, I’m completely qualified to edit any kind of legal document for clarity, structure, spelling and punctuation and so on.