An editorial quality workflow for law firms should have two sets of eyes and three rounds of review.

When it comes to editorial work, systems beat individuals every time. To err is human, to proofread divine.

Here's the last page of a webinar slide deck I downloaded from the American Bar Association's website this morning:

Missed opportunity here.

Ouch. This deck was was a good one too, brimming with litigation risk management tips from an expert in the field.

Marketers: Don't assume that an article or slide deck will require only a cursory review because it was submitted by one of your best writers. Nobody's perfect. And it's particularly unfair to expect perfection from attorneys who write under the pressure of client demands, court appearances, travel schedules, and business development responsibilities.

The best way to produce clean content is to have a system in place to catch the errors you know are present in every bit of editorial work submitted for publication.

In a professional publishing environment, a finished article goes through several rounds of revision, line-by-line edits and proofreading, before it reaches the publisher's website. No exceptions.

Law firm marketers can approximate a professional publisher's editorial workflow by setting up a quality control mechanism that contains the following three components:

  1. Early deadlines to allow time for meaningful review prior to publication.
  2. Multiple staffers to review every piece of content published with the firm's name on it.
  3. Multiple edit rounds each for (a) meaning and strategic fit, (b) grammar and style and, finally, (c) typos and miscellaneous other small errors.

A skeleton editorial quality workflow requires, at least, two sets of eyes and three rounds of review. That sounds overly dogmatic, I know, but it's risky to take shortcuts.

Law offices with a single content editor should make sure that the copy gets passed back and forth between author and editor several times until all of the necessary reviews are performed. Law offices with zero editors should pass the copy among other attorneys and paralegals in the firm. Solos should hire an editor or find a writing partner willing to provide feedback and make edit suggestions on work prior to publication.

There really is no other way to do it.
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By Thomas O'Toole

A journalist with three decades' experience reporting on legal affairs, Tom is the managing editor and lead writer at Lawyers Media LLC.

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