Law booksSo when I sang the legal blues recently, I should have been more helpful and given some suggestions for avoiding approval problems with lawyers. Here they are:

  1. Consider what’s going on. In a time when lawyers are super-super-sensitive, like a lawsuit or merger, ask if you should even be writing the article.
  2. Talk to them first. Ask if there are any sensitivities, so you can write in a way that avoids touchy areas that would only be deleted anyway.
  3. Start the approval process early. They’ll need extra time to comb through your copy and turn warm, readable, human-sounding words into stiff lawyer-speak.
  4. Push back. Don’t let them use lawyer-speak. Agree to remove an offending word, but negotiate for something a real person would actually say. Ask why something should be changed. Offer alternatives.
  5. Don’t ask for “approval.” Ask them to “review” the copy for inaccuracies or sensitivities.
  6. Show why you need to address an issue. The lawyers might not want to talk about it, but they may have no choice if there’s already something in the local newspaper, in a letter to the editor, on a blog.

If you have any other tips, I’d love to see them. There are no dealings with lawyers in the cards this week, but I know it’s only a matter of time.

Image by “witwiccan” from