Writing for Solicitors Journal
Solicitors Journal readers range from generalist lawyers in small firms to specialists in larger commercial firms. Your article should cater for both – you should write clearly enough to attract the generalist’s passing attention, and show sufficient knowledge to be credible to fellow specialists in your area.
The basic proposition for any article is that it should be possible to read it as ‘a good story’, whatever the topic. Every article should have the potential to appeal to all readers, irrespective of their main areas of interests. It's not that we believe that our subscribers will read every single article we publish but it is important that the Journal should be accessible to all and appeal to every reader in his/her capacity as a lawyer with an inherent interest in broader legal issues.
With this in mind, your main task will be to capture readers’ attention from the start and ensure that you provide them with personal thinking throughout. The guidelines below should assist you in this endeavour.
Please also make sure you have read our terms and conditions.
(a) Opening line
If there is one sentence you need to spend time on, it’s this one. This sentence will set the tone of the piece and will tease your reader into reading on – or not.
It should be informative and enticing without being overly detailed or sensational (don’t go ‘tabloid’). Its tone should be persuasive enough to bring your fellow experts on side, and sufficiently engaging for non-specialists to consider reading it as a general interest piece in its own right.
(b) Tell a story
There is no such thing as a ‘dull but important’ development; if it’s important but you believe not immediately obvious why, then make it clear in the first few paragraphs, by providing examples for instance. Tell readers what you think the story is and bring it to life.
(c) So what?
It's all very well to report what the judge has said in a ruling or what a a new Bill is about. But the chances are our readers - your peers - will already know about it. Instead they will be interested in your own analysis, thoughts and views. So make sure you provide the answer to this question: 'so what?'. This should make up two thirds of your article.
(d) Be concise
Readers’ time is as precious as yours, so be sharp and to the point, and avoid padding out.
(e) What you think
Solicitors Journal intends to provide one of two types of articles: either practical insight into current legal issues, or personal views.
Either way, we want to hear what you think, not what we already know from reading the news or law reports.
(f) Jargon and technicalities
You can be accurate and avoid ambiguities without having recourse to jargon or technical formulas - they get in the way and are usually not necessary. Remember that even if you are writing for an audience of educated peers, you are not writing a case report, presenting a case in court, or writing to the other party’s solicitor.
(g) Avoid clichés
This should go without saying: please don't use clichés, platitudes and other ready-made formulas. They are not cool and they don't make an article more accessible.
Top of our banned list at the moment are: "Watch this space" and "The devil is in the detail". You've been warned.
Just give us a call or drop us an email:
Jean-Yves Gilg, Editor
020 7566 8253
Articles should be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org either as attachments (Microsoft Word documents or simple Text documents) or pasted into the body of the email.
For ease of identification, please make sure your / the author’s name appears clearly at the top of the article. Please also ensure you provide:
The maximum standard lengths for Solicitors Journal articles are:
How to impress commissioning editors (Journalism.co.uk, 1 November 2006)
The Economist style guide (summary version, but contains useful writing tips)
© Solicitors Journal 2008 - 2013