Don’t Forget the Words

by Andy Edelstein on July 18, 2012

First of all, let me state categorically that I am a huge fan of good design. I believe whole-heartedly that strong, compelling design is worth every penny you pay for it.

As long as you don’t skimp on the copy.

I’ve often wondered how so many law firms end up with professional design and amateur writing. They spare no expense on the visuals, only to relegate the copywriting chores to whoever draws the short straw. The resulting communications are too often unreadable — dense, poorly organized, and mind-numbingly dull.

While design is necessary, it is not sufficient. To demonstrate, I invite you to think of a visual that conveys anything at all about your firm’s derivatives practice.

Not so easy, is it? Of course, you could go with the standard montage of dollar signs and stock tickers — plenty of firms do — but how enlightening is that?

Now suppose some prospective client comes to your website looking for a derivatives attorney. Will they moved be by dollar signs and stock tickers? Or would they rather read a cogent explanation of an esoteric practice? Which will communicate more effectively: the pictures or the words?

You can go down your firm’s entire practice list and, I promise, the visual images will come up just as short. An M&A transaction will never have the visual impact of a BMW.  Tax litigation will not readily lend itself to lifestyle photography. Patent prosecution will never get a million views on YouTube.

These practices are only understood through their words. When you skimp on the words, you skimp on the understanding.

Andy Edelstein is a copywriter specializing in law firm advertising and marketing communications. He can be reached at

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