Editing and proofreading fiddles with copy, revising recasts. One of our writers submitted a page with this paragraph. He is a fine writer but under deadline for this piece. I have more time as I am generally not doing original research and writing, rather, editing and revising material already written.
Here’s the troublesome paragraph:
“When you are in a difficult situation, you don’t want your lawyer to be inaccessible, unsympathetic, and only speaks in confusing legal jargon. You want legal service that’s not only effective but compassionate as well. That’s exactly the kind of service our clients get at Donovan and Reed.”
Can you count the negatives? 1) difficult 2) don’t. 3) inaccessible. 4) unsympathetic. 5) confusing. 6) not.
Writing for the public must be positive. In this setting, these everyday words and phrases conspire to present a negative image. Instead of saying what a client doesn’t want, let’s say what a client wants. And, perhaps most importantly, what the firm wants as well.
It took me an hour and at least ten revisions before I was happy with what you see below. This was abnormally long for a single paragraph, however, this was for a client’s home page. Home pages must be positive, copy has to move, and they cannot ramble. The rest of the page needed only minor editing.
Here’s my revision:
“You want a lawyer who is accessible, sympathetic, and plain speaking. You also want legal service that’s effective and compassionate. That’s what we want, too. And that’s exactly what we provide at Donovan & Reed.”
Details? I eliminated “When you are in a difficult situation” because the client is undoubtedly already in one. The negative language was then eliminated and the copy tightened.
As I alluded to previously, it was important to state that the law firm’s wishes were the same as the client. “We want that, too.” This invests or aligns the company with the client’s concerns. It’s not just the client desiring something, it is the business as well.