- Posted by Jonathan Ringel
- On August 31, 2021
- communications, law, U.S. Supreme Court
Turtles adorn the lampposts of the U.S. Supreme Court plaza, an architectural feature said to symbolize how deliberately the justices decide the cases before them.
As a reporter, I covered the high court, and as an editor, I published lawyers’ analyses of significant decisions. From my new perspective as a law firm content consultant, I see the slow pace of the court offering lawyers more communication opportunities than they might see on the surface.
A year or more can pass between the court weighing whether to hear a case and deciding the matter. That period of uncertainty provides lawyers multiple chances to exhibit their knowledge of the subject to clients and potential clients.
This isn’t just about showing off how smart you are. Even though you can’t (and probably shouldn’t) predict what the justices will do, you can explore the most likely possibilities to help clients plan accordingly. That means publishing a piece on your firm’s website or blog, or in a legal or industry newspaper, any time after someone has asked the court to take up a case.
To ride the top of the news waves, you probably want to wait until the court has decided to hear the matter, and you can even weigh in after oral argument. In that situation, you should move quickly, lest the justices scoop you with a quick dispatch of the matter, even though it usually takes weeks or months for a decision to arrive.
Primed with knowledge from your first piece, you can also write an analysis after the decision is rendered, ideally within days of it occurring.
National news will focus on high court cases with the broadest popular interest. In the upcoming term, that would mean the media will be covering disputes over Mississippi’s abortion law; whether the trial of one of the accused Boston marathon bombers was marred by pretrial publicity; and the fate of a concealed weapons law in New York state.
But there are many more cases affecting key parts of law and business that will draw far less attention, giving lawyers who spend time studying the issues a longer reach.
These cases and decisions are complicated—especially when the justices unhelpfully concur and dissent with parts of overlapping opinions. But don’t let that challenge deter you from offering clients and potential clients your knowledge of the situation. You don’t have to promise to know everything, but if you’re interested in the subject, you probably know more than most people, and they’ll appreciate the knowledge you share.