Articles Posted in Ask The Marketing Attorney Mailbag

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DEAR MAM: I read your comments in a recent article in Conde Nast Portfolio, and was wondering how easy it is to become a Super Lawyer? And how can I get rated somewhere? SINCERELY YOURS, LC, New York, NY

DEAR LC: To be honest, if you have a heartbeat and a JD, and can not get ranked by somebody somewhere, you’ve got serious problems. As a matter of fact, you can send me a thousand bucks and I will name you the “Marketing Attorney Lawyer of the Week” (complete with an e-mailed PDF of a “plaque” and a gold star sticker from my three year old daughter’s sticker book. I know it sounds sarcastic, but call me if you’ve got the grand handy.
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DEAR MAM: I read your recent post on Verizon Yellow Pages. I too have had enormous frustrations with their practices–how much things cost? When the deadlines occur? Errors in the ads? What should I do? Is there a person or department you suggest I contact with Verizon? SINCERELY YOURS, JB, Phoenix, AZ

DEAR JB: To be honest, I’m encouraging firms I work with to stop all Verizon Yellow Pages advertising, because of these types of issues. The reality, in my opinion, is that it is a dying entity. Besides the fact that there are numerous competitors (I do not know which book I keep in my own kitchen–Verizon or Yellow Book–myself), when I need to look something up, I go online anyway. And for one of my law firm clients, we have spent more time trying to resolve a dispute with Verizon this past year than we have on our own business development plan. The best bet is to simply cancel your listing all together. You can always go back later (regardless of “losing your spot in line” sales gimmickery). Perhaps, you will get a new manager or rep that can start you off fresh, or simply try some other marketing tools for a year or two and see how things net out. I have chosen to redirect some of the Verizon money to Yellow Book, simply to see if the product, services and results are any better. Please feel free to contact me privately for further information. Thanks for writing. I feel your pain. Sincerely yours, THE MARKETING ATTORNEY

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DEAR MAM: I practice employment law at what would probably be considered a megafirm. A few of us are wondering whether it might be better to venture out on our own. In today’s market, do you think our futures are brighter staying put (we are on the partnership track, we think) or going out on our own? SINCERELY YOURS, JC, New York, NY

DEAR JC: Oh, the dilemma of sucking it up and earning big bucks with little life, or rolling the dice on making a good income and doing what you want. I know it well. Contrary to some recent reports, many have found recent success finding a niche that stands between a solo and a boutique–the mini-boutique. In most cases, the mini-boutique has a specialty in which a corporate client finds greater value and lower cost. In most cases that I’ve dealt with, the mini-b is started by partners that have a book of business to get rolling. So, unless you know that there will be some clients to get going, you might hold off a littler longer. Some of the mini-bs that have met with great success are IP and employment practices.

You think that you are on the partnership track? If you are within three years of that next level, stay the course and then reconsider venturing out. If you are a third-year associate, unless you have some clients that will be making the move, you may struggle. And, of course, there is always the opportunity to find a better fit at a full-size boutique. The grass is always greener, baby! Let me know how things play out. SINCERELY YOURS, THE MARKETING ATTORNEY

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DEAR MAM: Where do you stand on Yellow Pages advertising? My gut is that it is a waste. However, so many still spend so much on it. SINCERELY YOURS, SP, Minneapolis, MN

DEAR SP: You’ve struck a nerve. There is no entity that has less of a shot of getting a piece of marketing dollar from one of my firms than Verizon Yellow Pages or Super Book or whatever they call themselves. Dealing with Verizon is the worst vendor interaction experience that I have faced ANYWHERE on ANYTHING. I am in the process of looking for law firms that have had similar issues with Verizon sales personnel. Since I am not interested in getting into litigation with them, I’ll leave it at that. However, firms with such experiences should contact me privately. I’ve had much better experiences dealing with the folks at Yellow Book. But that does not really answer your question. In some undersaturated markets, there are still consumer-oriented firms that see and get value from Yellow Pages-style advertising. However, the impact in today’s market is far less than it once was. It has become an overpriced entity that is often too crowded to be effective. If you have a huge budget, I still put money aside for a Yellow Book, but if my dollars are tight, I go elsewhere first. Sincerely yours, THE MARKETING ATTORNEY

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DEAR MAM: I just read your response to the NY man who was asking about online law directories. I am just starting to market an 800 vanity number and want to know what are your feelings on vanity numbers?

DEAR KK: Much like domain names, my first and often last question in response to a vanity phone number is “how intuitive is it?” Naturally, I see no value in a 1-800-ANTITRUST for a corporate law firm. However, for many plaintiffs’ firms, a vanity number that resonates with the consumer can have tremendous value. Of course, it needs to be part of a solid, overall marketing plan. I often pass billboards for PI firms that highlight ridiculous phone numbers and web addresses. So ridiculous that I can not offer up an example, because they are so “not memorable.” A number that sticks in my head after I get out of the car, or turn off the radio or TV, is a winner. That is the question you need to ask yourself. And when purchasing a vanity number from a third party (not the phone company), you should take a hard look at the cost versus the potential benefits. Thanks for writing. Sincerely yours, THE MARKETING ATTORNEY

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DEAR MAM: There are many attorney directories out there–MH, Best Lawyers, Who’s Who, Chambers, Lawyers Diary and Manual, etc…Using criteria such as how long the publication has been in existence, who receives it, how many people receive it, and how much it costs, which ones would you recommend to use and which ones would you recommend to ignore? SINCERELY YOURS, MD, New York, NY

DEAR MD: This is a question I receive daily. Just yesterday, I returned a solicitation call for a “Best Attorneys”, A “Who’s Who”, and a “Best Lawyers”. No kidding! The “Best Lawyers” was actually a forwarded e-mail from a “winning” attorney asking the same type of questions that you are asking.

Because I’m in a nice mood today, I’ll avoid calling any publication out on the carpet. Like Superman, Supergirl and Superlawyers. However, I usually ask attorneys this question: “Which do you use?” and “Which do your clients use?” The answer is generally neither. Most of these publications are ego-driven, vanity sells that impress two people-yourself and your grandma. Maybe, if you are single, a hot date. But, that is less likely.

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DEAR MAM: I’m looking for the answer to this question: does it make sense for a law firm to employ an editor? Editors find ways to present information so it’s easy to follow, so it’s easy to find answers to questions. In other fields, editors work with Subject Matter Experts who know the material (but who may not know the best way to present it). Why not have them work with lawyers to make pleadings as effective and persuasive as possible? Sincerely, MT, San Francisco, CA

DEAR MT: I am going to answer your question along two completely different lines. First, while the concept of hiring an editor to work on pleadings, briefs and other legal documents might sound smart, the reality is that “legal writing” is in a world of its own. I still remember struggling through my 1L legal writing course in law school, because I was at a distinct disadvantage-I knew how to write. I was coming off a year reporting for The Baltimore Sun, and using real journalistic approaches to legal writing. Most lawyers can not write for their lives, but they know how to write legal stuff. Do you think someone putting together a one million page brief full of baloney is going to want it skillfully edited by a non-lawyer? Not to mention having to go through it again, since you might make editorial changes that alter the argument.

Now, for the second part of my answer. Many firms hire former journalists, editors and skilled writers for the marketing team. Because that stuff, when written by lawyers, is deadly. Some of the best law firm marketers I know are former journalists that lead a law firm’s publication and public relations efforts. They will also tell you that the pay is significantly better than what they would earn writing for a newspaper or magazine. The down side is that it is extremely boring. And instead of getting your stuff edited by skilled editors, you get your stuff edited by those same lawyers. It can be frustrating. But, it pays well. And polished marketing collateral, be it a magazine, client alert, press release, newsletter or article, does stand out. If you get a good paying publications job at a law firm, send me a gift certificate for dinner somewhere. Sincerely yours, THE MARKETING ATTORNEY

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Dear MAM: I was wondering where you stand on Martindale. Is it still a necessary expense? And do people care about ratings and the other things they are selling? Sincerely, J.E., Clark, NJ

Dear J.E.: Repeatedly, in my work with firms and meetings with In-House counsel, Martindale continues to be an important and necessary component for any firm’s marketing effort. The real question is to what extent.

Not only do decision-makers still count on MH as “the” lawyer directory, but many more than you and I would like to think still use the damn books! Why? Habit, age and comfort.

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Dear MAM: I get something in the mail almost every day for one law marketing conference or another. Which do you attend?

Thanks for any light you can shed. Sincerely yours, D.G., Orlando, FL

Dear DG: We are obviously on the same mailing lists. I can tell you that I’ve pocketed my cash and do not even consider “conferences” like the Marketing Partner Forum (nothing more than a boondoggle and sponsor-fest) or the LMA National Conference (you would think that it might improve one year; it does not). To be a full LMA member requires a heartbeat and a dues payment, following an ill-conceived plan to self-destruct last year. There seem to be about a dozen other for-profit seminars that rarely look much better.

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Dear MAM: I recently received the following e-mail from a law directory that I had never heard of. Is it legit? Do you suggest trying it out? It read as follows:

#1 Search Result on Google

January 10, 2005 – The Law Firm Directory at is now featured as the #1 search result for “law firms” at Since its launch in early 2004, has attracted nearly 10% of all searches for “LAW FIRMS” on Google by consumers and corporate counsel searching the web for qualified representation.

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