Monday, 14 March 2011

Trainee solicitor; complimentary ghostwriter

I know the feeling Ewan
There is a marketing drive in my Firm to get more website hits and general Internet interest for the teams. What this boils down to is writing more articles, newsletters and updates to publish online, the idea being that the more buzz words included in these articles means more search engine hits. (a concept not lost on bloggers........ LAW, Training Contract, Justin Bieber.... ahem)

However, the big important lawyers with the experience and knowledge to comment legitimately on topical issues certainly don't have the time to waste on marketing that doesn't involve expenses or drink receptions. The mid level lawyers have to get their chargeable hours down to meet targets so it is unlikely they have the time to spend on non-chargeable article writing. So the article writing duties trickle down through the ranks until they pool at the feet of the trainee.

And so through this process I have been signed up to write the Insolvency monthly articles and the newsletter and the update bulletin for the Education sector. As well as all the other work and extra duties (like canape serving!) that trainees are expected to do I have to keep up to speed with the market place, legal opinion and the law on both these areas, write short 'pithy' (the sector head used this word 6 times when explaining the education newsletter) articles on hot topics and provide easily digestible updates on developments over the last month.

I understand this is an important role for a trainee and researching topics will help develop my knowledge of the sector and department. I am also happy with the actual writing of the articles - I enjoy writing and being 'pithy' comes naturally to me (case in point!). It will allow me to demonstrate my grasp of the law and commercial awareness. But, after reviewing hundreds of alert results and websites, hours of research and energy spent being witty, I won't personally have anything to show for it. Trainees are not given credit!

I can see the reason behind this; who wants to hear what a trainee has to say? Why does the opinion of someone who has only been in the law for 6 months matter? For marketing purposes my point of view counts for very little when compared with the head of the department. However, when I have spent time writing something it grates to see someone else get the glory. As an example, an article on an insolvency topic was recently published online in the name of my supervisor but written by me. He has also included a link on his Linked in profile and it has been included in our business round up. So not only is my supervisor taking the credit for my amazing writing skills but he is using them to promote himself personally.  

I could write an equivalent article for my blog using the research but I think it would become a little obvious when an articles on the same topic are repeatedly published by my Firm. I value my anonymity too much for that and besides, I might get caught! I guess I don't have much of an option but to begrudgingly write brilliant articles and let my superiors have them. Maybe I can use all my experience to diversify into legal journalism - Miss TS, editor does have a certain ring to it......

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