Articles Posted in Law Marketing

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ALI-300x108When ALI CLE asked me to present an ethics CLE on lawyer advertising, I hesitated. After all, I’ve been teaching this course across the country for more than 20 years. But the timing was right. There were hot-button issues sitting on my desk, and the equally red-hot debate over making the first substantial changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct related to law firm marketing since Bates v Arizona in 1977. So I said yes.

In the days leading up to my presentation (taped on March 23rd), there were articles in the local (Philadelphia) daily newspaper discussing geo-targeting billboards for Johnnie Cochran’s law firm (despite the fact that the famed OJ Simpson attorney passed away in 2005). There was U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissing the remaining (false advertising) claims in Larry Pitt’s lawsuit against competitor Lundy Law. I discussed earlier Pitt-Lundy battles in the 2013 version of my CLE. Yet they are both news items here in 2018. Social Media has been an integral part of my CLE since flashing up my MySpace profile in 2007. While I tout Facebook as being an integral part of marketing for many attorneys, the news was also covering just how our data was being used by the likes of Cambridge Analytica—that same market data we use to generate prospective clients was also being used for evil, and not good. The news was not fake, but apparently some of the Facebook users were. And, of course, there is the debate over proposed changes to the ABA model rules (for advertising and solicitation), scheduled to go before the House of Delegates this August during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago. So if that is just what is going on in my neck of the woods, and at the national level, you can imagine what else is out there.

If you are in need of an ethics credit for continuing legal education compliance and/or your law firm markets—this is a perfect use of one hour to catch up on the latest trends and discussions related to the always-prickly subject matter of appropriate (and inappropriate) lawyer advertising and solicitation.

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SM_Pic_LPT_2018-300x144In the March 2018 issue of the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Today webzine, I put around 2,500 words to web in my article, What’s New in Social Media Marketing for Lawyers? It seems like just yesterday that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (and plenty others) came into our lives. It’s been longer than that…as a nine year old post this morning on Facebook reminded me of an event from days’ gone by. The tools have changed, and for business development purposes, lawyers have had to change with them.

In preparing to write the feature, I kept putting down notes on various social media news, programs and events—seemingly by the hour. At the same time I write this very blog post, I’m mere minutes away from moderating an ABA CLE on The Law and Social Media: Tips for Every Lawyer, with my colleagues Cynthia Dahl, Kathryn Deal and Molly DiBianca, covering social media issues that range from employment law matters to tweeting jurors, messaging witnesses, friending judges, cybercrime and prosecution, DMCA and trademark issues, virtual law practices, professionalism, and marketing.

Just last week, the ABA released Formal Opinion 480 from the Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility reminding lawyers of the confidentiality obligations for lawyer blogging and tweeting. It is an opinion that has been widely panned as being late to the game. This provides another reminder as to the speed that social media runs. The suggestions are already somewhat old and outdated.

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LPcover_MarApr2018-235x300Oh, remember the ‘80s? Alf, Madonna, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Garbage Pail Kids? I was in New Orleans to see Keith Smart’s last-second shot for Bobby Knight’s Indiana Hoosier over Syracuse in the NCAA Championship Game in 1987. I watched the Baltimore Orioles defeat the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1983 World Series (when the O’s still were more important to me than the Phillies). And I was at the Stanley Cup Finals between the Flyers and the Edmonton Oilers in 1985 and 1987. Those were just some of the games I attended in person. I worked in the Major Indoor Soccer League and the NHL during the 80s—attending hundreds of games. I remember the end of high school, my college years, first jobs, and the start of law school. Little did I (we) know at the time that those babies being born were—Millennials! And that—in the here and now—it would all be about them.

It certainly seems like every day over the past few years has had an issue or conversation regarding the topic of Millennials at the law firms I routinely visit. How do you hire them? (Can we even fire them?) How do you retain them? How do you work with them? How do you make them happy? And, as I write in my marketing column for the March/April 2018 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine, Marketing to and for Millennials.

The reality is that Millennials today are often the core focus for marketers. And for law firm marketers, there needs to be a shift in the approaches taken to be successful in this space. I’ve worked with law firms on efforts geared toward Millennials for a few years now. In 2016, I spoke on an ABA panel, Bridging the Generational Divide: How Millennials Can Communicate with Baby Boomers and Succeed in the Workplace. There was a Law360 article on How to Manage the Millennial Lawyer. And in 2015, I served as the Editor in Chief for an entire issue of Law Practice Today geared to Law Firm Management Struggles with Multigenerational Issues. As detailed in the column, I have had to shift my own marketing strategies—not only to engage the millennial lawyer, but more importantly, engage the millennial client.

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ABA Midyear Meeting, Vancouver, B.C., 2018

If you are attending the ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver the first weekend in February, reside in the B.C. area or simply are looking to escape to Canada (as so many U.S. citizens and non-citizens now are), be sure to attend this free CLE program, Fishing for Prospects – Ethical Limitations Can Create Muddy Waters in Catching New Clients on Saturday, February 3, 2018 from 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. PST at the Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown.

This ABA CLE, co-sponsored by the Law Practice Division and the Young Lawyers Division focuses on ethical strategies for business development and relationship building.  We will cover ethic rules and related pitfalls when soliciting new clients and advertising your practice. The Rules of Professional Conduct, various US Supreme Court cases and numerous state bar ethics opinions can create an often-unseen myriad of issues when soliciting new clients.

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Online legal referral and attorney rating service

For some attorneys—even 40+ years after Bates v. Arizona—marketing itself is a disruption. But when AVVO, the online legal referral and attorney rating service, came along in 2006, it created some of the more significant disruptions to the legal marketing industry. With the company being acquired by Internet Brands last week, the question is whether the business will remain cutting edge?

Of course, as is usually the case, the company touts that things will remain the same and be “business as usual” under new ownership. But that is rarely the case. I would argue that Martindale, Nolo and Total Attorneys—all businesses acquired by Internet Brands (makers of such sites as WebMD, Fodor’s Travel and MySummerCamps) no longer have the same impact they did before being acquired. When Findlaw was acquired by Thomson in 2001, it basically ceased being Findlaw (after the typical “business as usual” period of time). If you want to see the original premise of Findlaw today, you go to Justia. Martindale-Hubbell, founded in 1868 by attorney James Martindale (talk about being ahead of the curve on marketing! I always thought Greg Siskind was first with everything), was what most law firms considered the one piece of business development they would pay for. And pay for they did for over 100 years until the Internet killed the golden goose. When I first started visiting law firms to discuss marketing in 1996, I was often sent to see the librarian—because she updated the Martindale listings—that (plus perhaps the holiday card) was the extent of “marketing.”

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LP_Today_Logo-e1401945551625In a world where every law firm is (or says) they are “full-service,” comes this issue of Law Practice Today dedicated to niche practice marketing. Depending on your firm, practice and related industries, a niche can be many things to many people—with no real right or wrong answers…so begins the intro to my article on The Pros and Cons of Niche Practice Marketing in the November 2017 edition of the ABA’s Law Practice Today (LPT) webzine.

As a member of LPT’s Board of Editors, past Editor-In-Chief and past chair of the ABA Law Practice Division, I’ve long-enjoyed seeing the growth of the law practice webzine—which is delivered in the inbox of every ABA member (that opts into e-mail) and numerous syndicated bar association partners throughout the country, giving it the largest circulation of any online law practice resource in the U.S. I had the pleasure of serving as issue editor for the niche practice issue, with my colleagues Editor-In-Chief Andrea Malone of White & Williams in Philadelphia and Associate Editor Amy Drushal at Trenam Law in Tampa, Florida.

It is unusual for me to contribute two pieces to an issue, but I had to add a sidebar on How Niche Marketing Helped Me Escape an Arizona Traffic Jam as well. It goes hand-in-hand with an interesting article on When Photo Radar is Worse Than DUI by my (now) favorite firm in Scottsdale, Arizona. You’ll learn about the niche at R&R Law Group, along with how solid marketing efforts brought this educated consumer (that would be me) to their practice for counsel. Spoiler alert—they were 100% successful in their representation of the client.

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Pennsylvania Bar Institute

In order to get your ethics credit while attending my annual PBI marketing ethics program, you will need to watch me “live…on tape…from Philadelphia” (Larry Sanders Show reference) on December 19th in Pittsburgh or December 21st in Philadelphia. HOWEVER, if you’re interested in the subject matter, you are invited to attend the free live taping of that program (without the CLE credit; written materials will be provided via e-mail in PDF form), at The CLE Conference Center in the Wanamaker Building on Tuesday, November 28th from 10:30 am to 11:30 am.

If you are fascinated by the topic and enjoyed my recent ABA Law Practice Magazine column, Revisiting Lawyer Ratings and Rankings, you’ll learn a lot in this one hour program. Thank you to PBI for allowing me to extend an invite to the local lawyer and law marketing communities to attend the taping.

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LPcover_NovDec2017-235x300When I wrote my marketing column for the November/December 2017 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine, Revisiting Lawyer Ratings and Rankings, I lamented how dealing with the R&R industry felt like it took up time during every single working day. So it seemed somewhat ironic that the magazine arrived in my mailbox on the same day that I penned more than a half dozen press releases for law firms announcing their results from the 2018 U.S. News/Best Lawyers’ “Best Law Firms” honors.

Now it happens that as ratings go, I have respect for the good people at Best Lawyers and U.S. News. They are always easy to work with—and unlike some others named in the column—they avoid the used car sales approach with my law firm clients. They lend a guiding hand with the process, regardless of how much the firm might be spending on the “award” product line. Perhaps your experiences have varied. We all have very subjective feelings to who and what in this business is credible. You may find the ones that give you the highest honors to certainly be the most legitimate!

What entities are referenced by name in this month’s column? In order of appearance:  Best Lawyers and U.S. News, Chambers USA, Avvo, American Lawyer Media (ALM), Lawyers of Distinction, Expertise.com, Yelp, Super Lawyers, Rising Stars and Martindale.

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Wall Street Journal

You have NO IDEA how much I nodded my head when picking up this morning’s Wall Street Journal and seeing reporter Sara Randazzo’s article on Time to Rank the Rankers of Lawyers? It has seemingly been a huge part of my work days over the past few weeks.

Unfortunately, you will have to wait by your mailbox for the November/December 2017 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine to see the marketing column I authored for it a few weeks back entitled Revisiting Lawyer Ratings and Rankings, which is a follow-up to my 2014 column, The Impact of the Three R’s: Ratings, Rankings and Reviews—which still draws e-mails and phone calls. In the column, I highlight past and present issues with an industry that is still burgeoning and remains largely unregulated (despite generally failed attempts by state bars and even the Better Business Bureau) to reign them in.

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ABA Law Practice Magazine, March/April 2017

Diversity as a business development tool cuts both ways. For those law firms that lack it, there is often frustration in knowing there are matters and clients that they will lose. For those that have it, there are endless opportunities to be rewarded.

It was ironic that the March/April 2017 issue of the ABA’s Law Practice Magazine arrived the same week that I was working on another ABA responsibility—the March 1st implementation of the ABA’s new CLE diversity policy. As chair of the Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education (SCOCLE), I have had the privilege of being involved in the many years where this policy was discussed, and ultimately adopted. Now I have the opportunity to oversee the implementation of a policy—that quite simply—requires an ABA program to meet a certain diversity threshold among the faculty, or not be accredited by the association. It is not unlike the requirement of many corporate legal departments that will dole out work to diverse lawyers.