The Next Step in the Legal Technology Trends Article Experiment

I hope that you have been enjoying the 5-part version of my legal technology trends article for 2007 that I’ve been running on this blog. Here’s what the next step will be.
I wanted to take the series and turn it into an article for publication, and open up the hood and give you some insights into how I write articles and work with these materials.
Where do I start?
I wrote the version of the trends piece that you’ve been reading and it took on a life of its own. When I finished, it was roughly 7,000 words.
Houston, we have a problem.
The sweet spot for print articles is 1,000 words. Back in the days of Law Office Computing (which unfortunately ceased publication last year), they would run 2,500 word features on legal technology on a regular basis. 1,000 words works well as a one-page article in a tablod-style publication.
For Internet publication, size is not a practical limitation, since there is no page limit. As you may know, I always prefer Internet publication these days, and my new articles usually go to LLRX.com or Law Practice Today, where I regularly co-write a column called “The Strongest Links” with To Mighell. Both are excellent web publications. The ABA Law Practice Management Section is about to launch a new webzine, Law Technology Today, that will also likely be a place that I publish articles.
That said, 7,000 words is way too long for a stand-alone article.
So, I thought for a while about what to do.
As I was writing the article, I decided to write it “fat” and let it go to the 7,000 word range, to say what I wanted to say, and then decide what to do with it.
As I mentioned in the introduction to the series, the wisest move would have been to write the article as a white paper for a vendor. An article of that length is perfectly appropriate as a white paper.
The full article also works for me as a seminar handout, a promotional piece, a white paper for my business, or, as I chose, a series of blog posts. None of those uses are mutually exclusive.
You may also have noticed that the article is written in a modular way (numbered list), with three sub-trends for each trend, and generally three points under each sub-trend. That looks suspiciously like the structure of my presentations. If the average speaking speed around 150 words per minute, you’ll see that I also have the script for a 50 to 60-minute presentation. In fact, there are some anecdotes and examples that make more sense in a talk than in an article.
As an side, I really like my current approach to designing presentations and slides, and owe a tip of the hat to Cliff
Atkinson’s Beyond Bullet Points for the style and method. As Tom Mighell can verify, I’ve given a presentation with the same set of slides, taking almost 90 minutes in one case, and comfortably in less than ten minutes in another.
Using that script, I can also record a podcast or audio program to use for a webinar or CLE download (see, e.g., Digilearn or Factum).
There’s also a lot of reusable material in there first draft that can be turned into blog posts, developed into articles, and used later. There are also some new ideas that I may turn to later. And, there are the seeds of some things that will turn into the book Tom Mighell and I are writing.
Lots of potential uses. So, the effort will not go to waste even if 80% of it hits the cutting room floor when I turn it into a publishable article.
Let’s look at the job of turning it into an article. My goal is to get it to 1,000 words. That’s going to be hard work. It’d be much easier to get it to 3,500 words (or 10,000 words). Because it’s modular, I can cut the article by cutting the number of trends, if I get desperate. However, “Five Trends for 2007″ doesn’t work like “Seven Trends for 2007.”
Here’s my working approach to cutting down the article:
Introduction: 150 words (very difficult for me – I like to write long introductions)
Conclusion: 100 words or less.
Seven trends: 100 -120 words each. (Yikes.)
But each of the trends has an intro and 3 sub-trends. That means 25 words for the lead-in and 25 words on each sub-trend.
That will take a lot of cutting and deciding what’s most essential. As I like to say, it’s easier to write longer than shorter. At least for me.
Unfortunately, the seven quick predictions at the end will have to go and will be the first deletions.
I have my work cut out.
And, I have some work to do in the article. As usual, I’m all over the place in first person, second, person and third person, and need to clean that up. I’m thinking that the real theme of the article is something a little different than what I started it out to be. And the trends don’t connect as well as I’d like. I also know from some of the feedback that I’ve gotten that it’s too easy for people to misinterpret some of my points.
In the next post, you will see the 1,000 word version of this article. I’ll be very interested in your feedback.
After that, it’s time once again for the DennisKennedy.Blog Birthday/Blogiversary Week, the annual celebration of both my birthday (February 17) and my blog’s birthday (February 15). The blog was born in 2003. I was born a few years before that. Expect a lot of fun and surprises and, as usually, I’ll do as many “By Request” posts as I have questions this week. The real purpose of Blogiversary week is to say thank you to readers of this blog.
Until then, I’ll note that 1,000 words is, ironically, the length of this post.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]
Learn more about legal technology at Dennis Kennedy’s Legal Technology Central page.
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Comments

  1. says

    Thanks so much for your wonderful, meaty series on legal tech trends as well as for the “under the hood” explanation of what you’ll do to transform it to a shorter article. Although I appreciate short and sweet information as much as the next guy, there are times I just need something of more substance. In our sound bite world, it’s nice to be able to bookmark a high quality, in-depth article like your series. Thanks so much.