law firm content marketing

The Lawyer’s Guide to Thought Leadership

by Noreen Fishman • May 16th, 2022 • Legal Marketing | Blog

You might question if it’s necessary to be viewed as an expert in your industry. The fact is that great lawyers tend to be great thought leaders, as well. Being a thought leader is particularly important for lawyers because being viewed as a credible source of knowledge is a key differentiator. Keep reading to learn more about lawyer thought leadership and how to use it to reach potential clients.

Lawyer Thought Leadershiplawyer thought leadership

What is Thought Leadership? 

The term “thought leadership” refers to a type of content marketing that is used to build credibility for individuals or leaders within a firm. The general goal of thought leadership is to become recognized as an expert within your field. You want to be seen as the go-to resource in your industry. In order to become thought leaders, successful lawyers should focus on creating and promoting informational, valuable content and become active in communities associated with their industries. One of the main channels for doing so is social media

Thought leadership is most effective if you can position yourself as a resource that can provide value and advice to your audience. Then, when someone is seeking legal services in the future, they’ll turn to you first. They will already trust you and view you as knowledgeable in the subject matter, so you’ll be top-of-mind when they need the services you offer. 

Lawyer Thought Leadership Best Practices

Before you dive into creating thought leadership, consider the following:

1. Research Your Audience (and keep learning about them)

Compelling thought leadership starts with your client personas. What motivates your audience? What are their main challenges? What questions are they likely to ask throughout the process? Conduct research through your digital channels, perform client interviews, talk to your sales team about their experiences, etc. Make sure to evaluate this information over time, as it could evolve. Are the questions you typically get changing from year to year? You’ll need to know what’s changing so that you can address the most accurate and relevant information. 

2. Interact on Social Media

Social media can be a powerful channel for growing your brand and credibility as a lawyer. It’s important to be active and engaged with your industry communities online. Participate in relevant conversations about industry events, updates, and trends. Once you have been active in online groups, you can promote your own thought leadership more organically. 

3. Create a Variety of Content and Publish it on Multiple Channels

Thought leadership for lawyers involves a lot more than just posting to your blog. It requires being active on social media, guest posting on other sites, and speaking at events, podcasts, and more. Mix things up with owned media and external media sources. Aim to have a blend of written, video, and audio content that you can publish and promote through various channels. Your goal is to have thought leadership available wherever your audience might be present. 

4. Learn What Your Competition is Doingusing competitive analysis for lawyer thought leadership

There are probably some lawyers in your space who are already viewed as thought leaders. Review their content, see what they’re doing, and note things like how often they post. Don’t copy, but don’t be afraid to get some inspiration. Similarly, if you see some gaps, those topics might be good areas to explore with your own content. 

5. Develop Truly Valuable Content

If you follow our blog, then you know this is a principle we mention a lot. In order to show that you’re an expert, you need to produce content that speaks intelligently to specific issues your audience cares about. Focus on exploring one area at a time, and taking a deep dive into the topic to provide real insights. 

6. Be Authentic

Remember that overly promotional content will never truly connect with your audience. Furthermore, if you create content with the only goal of marketing, you’ll likely annoy your audience. Focus on providing content that is genuine and an organic reflection of you as a lawyer and services. You should also make sure that your content makes sense to readers, offers a real perspective, and is backed by research that can help your audience form opinions. 

Thought Leadership Strategy

There are many forms of lawyer thought leadership, ranging from public speaking opportunities to blogs, to ebooks. Tactics like events and conferences, webinars, blogs, podcasts, ebooks, videos, guest posts, social media posting, and social media engagement all fall under the thought leadership umbrella. So how do you know what’s best for you as a lawyer? 

You’ll need to rely on a combination of keyword research and industry research. If you took the time to research your audience, then you’ll have a good idea of what people are asking about. You can also look at relevant industry news. Is there anything pressing happening that people are likely to research? Any of these areas are a good place to start in creating new content. Additionally, articles that contain how-to’s, tips, and best practices are always helpful. 

Once you’ve thought about the format and type of content you want to produce, you can spend more time developing a strategy. 

1. Select SMART Goalssmart goals for lawyer thought leadership

These are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. As you begin your work on thought leadership, think about what you’re hoping to accomplish. 

2. Come Up With Content Ideas

Review your personas and consider how your content is focused on what those individuals want to learn about. What are they searching for and asking about? Brainstorm content ideas that answer all of these questions. Remember that starting with a brainstorm means there are no bad ideas – you can narrow them down as you go through the process. 

3. Analyze Competition

Understanding where your audience currently turns for information is an important step. Look for gaps so you can address topics that other lawyers aren’t. 

4. Create and Promote Your Content

Once you’ve created content, ask yourself if it’s easy to comprehend and share. Does your personality and point of view come across clearly? Consider where you’ll post each item and how to promote new content organically. 

(To learn more about how to promote on social media, check out this eBook: Advanced Social Media Strategies for Law Firms.)

5. Track Results

In order to know if you’re accomplishing your SMART goals, you need to measure performance. Figure out which tools you’ll use to track metrics, and then make it a point to report on those items regularly so that you can review performance over time (and optimize for the future). 


Thought leadership is a wonderful strategy for building your brand as a lawyer and acquiring new clients. Proving your expertise while reaching a wider audience and nurturing relationships are key benefits of lawyer thought leadership. Do your research, follow the best practices we listed here, and then use the five steps to develop a strategy you can stick to. If you need some support, reach out to our team. We help lawyers to create thought leadership content that truly engages their target audience.


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