Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Chasing the Amtrak Crash


Dean Weitzman from “My Philly Lawyer”

You have seen this act before, dear reader, but perhaps never so blatantly. It’s the lawyer who chases the mass disaster crash, a/k/a the ambulance chaser. It’s the lawyer that, by doing so, smears the names of all others in the lawyering profession.

Today’s story comes up because Dean Weitzman, managing partner of the Philadelphia firm Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, decided it would be a swell idea to send out a press release to the local press letting everyone know that they would be accepting cases from the Amtrak crash. (Which is not an “accident” by the way).

He wrote, among much personal agrandizement, that is firm would be:

available to provide representation for victims and injured persons in last night’s Amtrak derailment in North Philadelphia.

Gee. Ya’ think?

And he also wrote that:

Dean Weitzman is also available to media outlets to give analysis and discuss what happens next.

The firm is, as I understand it, (in)famous for slathering Philly with its ads, using the moniker My Philly Lawyer.

It was exactly this type of grotesque chasing after cases that led New York to create its 30-day anti-solicitation rule (and I presume to a similar federal 45-day rule for airline disasters). In the immediate wake of the 2003 Staten Island Ferry disaster that killed 11, some lawyers ran to the Staten Island Advance to place ads for the next day.

But there were still bodies on the boat when many of them did that.

This type of wretched behavior has repercussions.  I see it when I step into the jury room to select, as do others in the profession.  Calling the jury pool cynicism deep would be an understatement.

If the cynicism came solely from insurance company propaganda, it would be one thing. But when the smear comes from your own ranks, then what? Then it becomes the obligation of others in the profession to express their contempt for the practice and issue a complete disavowal of the conduct.

Let there be no mistake about my position here: Dean Weitzman and the firm of Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman do a grave disservice to the cause of justice and to those who have been injured. By chasing ambulances in this fashion they perpetuate an ugly stereotype, whose ramifications are felt not only by members of the bar but more importantly by those we represent.

As I noted back in 2009 in a short analysis of anti-solicitation rules, they do work. In honor of the chasing that Weitzman is doing, it looks like time for Pennsylvania to follow suit with an amendment to its rules.

Since Dean Weitzman said he was “available to media outlets to give analysis and discuss what happens next,” I’ve sent him an email seeking comment about the appropriateness of sending out such an email within 24 hours of the crash, when all of the passengers aren’t even accounted for. If he elects to respond I may amend this post.

(Hat tip, Max Kennerly)


Abe Lincoln, Jack Kennedy and Lawyering

Abraham-Lincoln-Trial-LawyerThis is a big week for anniversaries. On Friday it is 50 years since John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. And tomorrow is 150 years since Abraham Lincoln delivered his two-minute long Gettysburg address, in a scant 270 words or so, which I wrote about three years ago.

Lincoln left behind on that Gettysburg battlefield some of the most memorable language that we have regarding the future of our democracy, “whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure.” He thought it important for the nation to resolve  “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

On the day Lincoln spoke for just a few minutes, so too did Edward Everett a noted politician of the day. He spoke for over two hours. Nobody quotes Everett.

One thing that Lincoln and Kennedy both left behind was the simple power of their words, in that they were able to enrich broader concepts. A simple search of quotes on Kennedy turns up these well-known words, and much more:

  • My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.
  • Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
  • Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.
  • Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.

This leaves us with a few questions:

  1. What words are you using to communicate, and how many do you really need?
  2. What are you doing today that will cause people to remember you after you’re gone?
  3. What are other people doing in your name?

Running, Lawyering and The Great Stage

Collins-Stops-843x1024I’m going to weave together six different stories today, some dealing with running, some with lawyering, but all leading to the same place. Trust me on this, I have a point to make.

We start on October 6th at the finish line of the Paine to Pain Trail Half Marathon, where Matt Collins — a person you’ve never heard of, and in a story that’s never appeared anyplace but a blog —  stopped dead in his tracks just steps from the finish line. And he waited for #2 and #3 to pass him before he walked across the finish line. It seemed that the guy who ultimately won had taken a wrong turn in the woods and was followed by #2. Collins was 3rd at the time, called them back as he took the lead, and then waited at the finish for the other guys to finish ahead of him.

On a very popular running forum, Collins was excoriated by some for not having grabbed first place. But this is not a race with a cash prize; people run for fun, health and personal glory. He didn’t feel like he deserved it as he wasn’t the fastest runner that day, and that was good enough for him. While the stage was rather small given the number of onlookers, a few people appreciated this act of extraordinary sportsmanship.

Move on to story 2 and the NYC Marathon — a vastly bigger stage — and another runner you’ve have never heard of, Mike Cassidy. He’s what we call a “sub-elite.” He’ll blow the socks off you in any regional race, but isn’t Olympic caliber. He’s not the guy who gets the sponsorships. That would be a guy like his hero, Meb Keflezighi  – 2004 Olympic silver medalist and 2009 winner of the NYC Marathon.

Meb — he’s always just Meb — was having an off day due to a series of injuries.  And when elite athletes have an off day they usually just drop out so that they can come back sooner in another race and not risk further injury. But Meb kept going.  And Cassidy caught up to his hero three miles before the dramatic Central Park finish.

Cassidy-KeflezighiR-NYCmar13Look at the picture to your left. As Cassidy recounts in extraordinary race report:

This is the type of moment you only dream about. The scene had played out in my mind countless times before: me, having the race of my life, gracefully passing Meb in Central Park en route to a stunning victory. It’s one of those wild fantasies that get you through the solitary 7 am 10 milers.

As I eased up on his shoulder, I looked over and said, “Let’s go Meb.”

He responded, promptly picking up his pace and we entered Central Park at 90th Street, shoulder to shoulder. The next three miles were the most surreal I have ever experienced.  “Let’s finish this together,” he said.

In recounting the experience of running with Meb through the closing miles, jammed with screaming fans, he said:

It was like getting to play basketball with Michael Jordan. Only it was Game 7 of the NBA Finals and he had just passed me the ball.

Why did Meb keep going?  Once more from Cassidy’s amazing write-up:

It was readily apparent that all the stories I’d heard about Meb’s remarkable attitude were true.

As we entered Central Park at Columbus Circle, I turned to Meb and told him as much. “It’s an honor to run with you,” I said.

His response is something I’ll never forget.

“No,” he said. “Today is not about us. It’s about representing New York. It’s about representing Boston. It’s about representing the USA and doing something positive for our sport. We will finish this race holding hands.”

Meb knew. People were watching.

Now story 3, we turn to lawyering and back to the smaller stage. Last week I wrote about the death of the anonymous Editor of Blawg Review, who everyone knew simply as Ed. Ed. worked behind the scenes. He was known, at least in this digital incarnation, only to a group of law bloggers and some of their readers. But he influenced us and how we wrote, and created a forum in which to celebrate quality, and not the marketing pablum that some try to pass off as blogging. Ed. was respected for what he was doing in his Blawg Review project, as is evident from all the stories posthumously written about him. People were watching.

Now story 4: I wrote in unflattering terms the other day about the tactics a lawyer used when suing Red Bull for $85M, in a case dealing with the death of someone that drank the stuff while playing basketball. I was less than charmed about his decision to place a monetary amount in the complaint when that tactic is not permitted in New York. The headlines all dealt with the money, instead of dealing with the safety of the product. And when we talk about newspaper headlines, we are most assuredly back on the big stage. People were watching.

Child's eyesStory 5: It came across social media like so many other viral videos do, this one dealing with how children reacted to same-sex marriage, by having them watch various same-sex marriage proposals. Everyone wanted to see how kids react. It’s been viewed, so far, over seven million times.

But if you thought about it, it wasn’t really about the kids. It was about the parents, because kids mostly just mirror what the parental units do and say. If kids are accepting, you can bet the parents are also. If a kid is a raging bigot — regardless of whether it’s about sexual orientation, race or religion — you can place a pretty good bet where it came from. The stage inside your home is as small as it gets. But the kids are watching.

Story 6: I tried a case in September, and every so often a lawyer or two would filter in and out of the courtroom on unrelated business. Last week I got a call from one of them who’d seen one particular cross-exam, and he wanted a copy of the transcript to use to teach a class of students. An audience of one just grew. Someone was watching, other than those required to do so.

The Point: We don’t always know how big our audience is: It may be a few people standing around a finish line, or jammed sidewalks and national television for the  NYC Marathon, or newspaper readers or “just” our kids. But people are always watching and listening (and I don’t just mean the NSA — “the only part of government that actually listens“).

When I select juries, I know that whatever opinions the 30 people sitting in the room  are going to form about lawyers will be directly impacted by the few things they hear from us. In doing so, I am always confronted by the entrenched attitudes some folks have because of the conduct of lawyers and news stories that came before.

We cannot view our conduct in isolation as it oft times impacts others.

This is something to think about with each bit of marketing a lawyer does, with every interaction with a client or potential client, and any interaction with the press. People are watching. And listening. And it matters.

“We Help You Publish Content”

ContentDear Marketeers:

The word you use is like nails on a chalkboard: Content.

You send me emails by the bushelful, you even call me, everyone wanting to provide “content.”

Content is another word for crap. Dreck. Nonsense. A keyword stuffed, Google-friendly, collection of words thrown down on paper. When the messages come by email, even the sales pitch is poorly written.

So to all you “content” publishers out there let me say this:

I do not create content. My words are not some generic commodity.

I report news. I offer opinions. I laud and and I criticize. I may do it well or I may do it poorly.

But it is unique. It has a point of view. Regardless of whether it’s good or awful, it isn’t some generic piece of commoditized “content.” My words are a part of me.

I am not interested in your “content,” because as soon as you use the word I know that you don’t know jack about my blog, or about me. You’ve sent me a form letter.

The same pitch might be made to a doctor, a rocket scientist or a quirky sanitation blog. Why anyone would trust you to write something when you’re too lazy to even read the existing forum is utterly beyond me. But I guess there are plenty of suckers out there, allowing the likes of you to write crap for them. Or perhaps, there are just many desperate pseudo-writers who think peddling crap is the way to make a living.

Let me be clear about this: I am not interested in your “content.” Not in reading it, not in publishing it, not even in considering it. Because I already know from your use of the word “content” in your pitch to me that it’s going to suck. Big time.

Affectionately yours,


ABA Drops The Ball On Attorney Marketing

ABAJournalLogoThis post is about some lousy advice given by the ABA Journal regarding legal marketing, some of which may actually be an ethical violation in New York.

I have something to add to the skewering of the ABAJournal article done by Ken @ Popehat, but go read that first and then return: Plumbing The Depths of Legal Marketing: What Does the ABA Think You Should Do To Get Clients?

Welcome back. Before going on, let me agree with Ken and say that not all of the advice is bad. As per the ABA advice on how to market, for instance, this is good:

11.) Don’t adopt a false marketing persona. Be yourself, and figure out the best way to present yourself in a way you find appealing.

OK, I like that, and it fits with ways that I market.

But this is one thing that Ken discussed about that article where he missed a critical point, and it’s important because it actually may be an ethical violation depending on your jurisdiction:

13.) Providing they label it attorney advertising, personal injury lawyers may send ad letters to accident victims.

Blech. Lets leave out, for a moment, that this is degrading to the profession as Ken notes, and makes all lawyers look like Sunday morning whores, even if we don’t conduct ourselves in such horrid fashion. But in New York, this might actually be an ethical violation as it could violate our 30-day anti-solictitation rule. See, for example, NY Lawyer Solicits Snowbound Subway Victims (Does He Violate Ethics Rules?)

This is Rule 4.5:

No solicitation relating to a specific incident involving potential claims for personal injury or wrongful death shall be disseminated before the 30th day after the date of the incident, unless a filing must be made within 30 days of the incident as a legal prerequisite to the particular claim, in which case no unsolicited communication shall be made before the 15th day after the date of the incident.

So part of the ABA advice could actually lead to an ethical violation depending on when it is sent. Shouldn’t that article have been peer-reviewed before publication?

But there is another downside to doing this, even if it might fall on the correct side of many/most codes of professional conduct.

You see, some lawyers have blogs, and I don’t mean the kind that are designed for search engines to read, but the kind that humans like to read. And some of those same lawyer-bloggers like to call out others for scummy conduct, even if it might appear to be on the correct side of the code of professional responsibility.

You shouldn’t assume that, merely because something might be legal, someone else might not take offense and decide to call you a scumbag for having done it.  I could use a more polite word than scumbag, but the critic writing about you might not, so you might as well deal with that fact now and consider the consequences.

And that lawyer-blogger might do it with your name in the very Google-friendly headline and url, like this.

You know why I do it? When people in my niche go to pick juries, we don’t like it when jurors look down their noses at us and our clients during jury selection. When jurors dislike us, the scales of justice are imbalanced before we even start the trial.

So if you do something scummy that tarnishes the reputations of lawyers, I have no problem flaying you alive.

The ABA article says has this pearl of wisdom:

33.) Never criticize a company by name in a blog post. You never know when that company might be in a position to hire you.

And guess what? Some of us don’t give a damn about that, and we aren’t interested in our blogs being bland bits of pablum. See, for example, the heading on this post that you are now reading, as well as a few others:

Are FindLaw’s “Blogs” Tainting Its Clients, Commentators and the Profession of Law?

Martindale-Hubbell: Now Sending Comment Spam? (How Does That Rate?)

Shpoonkle – A Lousy Idea for Lawyers and Clients

FuneralHomes.Com Digs Down Deep For Personal Injury Lawyers

Yodle and Attorney Advertising

Dropping comment spam, for example, might be legal. But look at the list of bloggers in this post who are more than happy to call you out on it.

It’s worth noting, by the way, that writing posts like those — the kind that the ABAJournal says not to write that criticize companies — are part of what put me in the ABAJournal Blawg 100 for the last five years and into its Hall of Fame. Ironic, no?

Marketeers beware. You’ve been warned. Yet again.

The Latest in Law Firm Marketing

TurkewitzLawWe interrupt this blog to bring you a special announcement on the latest and greatest in law firm marketing.

As you can guess from the picture to the right, my answer is not about  phony press releases like this that are little more than advertisements with links to obtain Google juice (this link is coded “No follow” to avoid that problem).

And it isn’t about creating fake law blogs, or flawgs (a great portmanteau), in order to create empty content that Google indexes in hopes to game search engines so that potential clients will find you.

And it isn’t about amassing gazillions of Twitter followers with less-than-candid personal profiles.

It isn’t about outsourcing marketing so that others can leave comment spam on blogs in the name of the law firm.

No, I am here to announce that the best attorney marketing — other than the obvious one of doing a good job for  your clients, who in turn refer you to others, a tactic that seems to get overlooked by the marketeers — is the tactic that is close to home. Do something in your community. There are approximately one gazillion ways to do this.

Being involved in the community isn’t a bad way to have people learn who you are and what you do while also providing muscle, brains or perhaps some financial support so that kids can, for example, take part in the national pastime. It’s the same approach used by generations of professionals and businesses of all stripes.

That’s right, this year’s winner of the best marketing technique is the same one I discussed back in 2010 when I got disgusted by all the marketeers pimping the “leads” they could get me for new cases from their attorney search services.

As I’ve told more than one cold-caller: I don’t have leads, I have clients. Humans are not commodities to be bought and traded.

I like to think of my version of marketing as an all-around win-win. It sure beats placing your firm name over a urinal.

Pitching-TurkewitzLawAnd, by the way, since I know you were wondering, the kid on the mound to the left is the same one previously featured with his skateboard.

He done good this weekend. Thanks for asking.

Is Google Stupid?

Yesterday Brian Tannebaum wrote about many of the law firm web site marketeers that write dreck for their clients (Blogging And Other Social Media, Like A Search Engine Whore)

The marketeers put this stuff online for the lawyers and call it content. Those with even minimal composition skills use far less charitable words to describe it.

As an example, he writes about the self-linking that takes place in pseudo-blogs and the embarrassing effect it actually has on the lawyer being promoted. He uses the example below — a monstrous keyword smorgasbord you may have stumbled across in the past, and were dumber for having done so:

Recently, this Craptown family lawyer read about a father being held in contempt for failing to pay child support. This case was not in Craptown and did not involve aCraptown family lawyer. As a Craptown family lawyer, it is important that anyone in Craptown who has a problem with Craptown family law call a Craptown family lawyer. It is unclear whether the father sought the services of aCraptown family lawyer, but contempt is a bad thing and is a reason to seek out aCraptown family lawyer. So for those of you fathers that are broke, it may be time to call a Craptown family lawyer.

This is a theme you have likely seen before, though it’s still worth reiterating as lawyers continue to come online with blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, etc., ad nauseum. Not knowing how to actually use these media, the attorneys outsource the content to the marketeers, outsourcing their ethics and public face in the process.

But I’d like to add a bit to what Tannebaum wrote, which he summarized like this:

Stop the multiple links in your blogs, and stop automating your social media accounts.

Fire anyone who you hired to do this for you.

Stop being an internet marketing whore, and start being a lawyer.

Now my two rupees to add on: The only reason to create such horribly dreadful prose is because the marketeers (or lawyers listening to them) think there will be Google link juice that will flow to those links; they think page rank will increase. In other words, the prattle isn’t written for the human, but for the search engine.

But do they really think Google is that stupid? Do they think Google doesn’t know that folks are trying to game them by passing along valuable page rank in the form of links?

If I were building a search engine, I would value the first inbound link from a site. The second link would be less valuable, and the third even less. It’s the only logical thing to do. Thus, my first link from Above the Law was likely good for my blog. But they’ve linked to me often over the years and additional ones probably have little impact as far as Google is concerned.

The same is true with multiple links within a post. The more links, the less value each will have. While I’m obviously not privy to Google’s algorithms, I do know these folks didn’t get to the top of the search game by being stupid.

So if you should happen to stumble across one of those Craptown blog posts that Tannebaum wrote about,  you have learned several things about the lawyer, none of them good

But adding to the humiliation factor that Tannebaum noted, you can add that:

  1. The lawyer has hired a marketeer that is incompetent;
  2. The lawyer has wasted his money because he gets nothing from it (other than humiliation).

And if you already made the mistake of hiring one of the marketing charlatans hustling business from lawyers left and right, and you can’t figure out whether the content being produced is good for you, ask your mother to read it. Ask your spouse. Ask friends who you trust for candor, the kind of friends that would take the car keys out of your hand because you’ve had one too many.

What would they think? Would they be proud to say they know you? If your kid’s friends read it, what are they likely to think of you?

Using Sandy Hook Massacre for Law Firm Marketing? (Updated x2)

1/4/13 – Update - this post has been modified where indicated to remove the name of a law firm and add the name of marketing firm. Explanation below.

1/9/13 – Update - The comment might have been left by a “Negative SEO” company trying to use this blog to damage someone else. Explanation below.

I’ve written before about the dangers of lawyers outsourcing their marketing to others, because marketing and legal ethics are intertwined. Thus was born the simple formula:

outsourcing marketing = outsourcing ethics

But it isn’t just ethics that get outsourced. Those who outsource their marketing are also outsourcing their brains. Why? Because now you have an agent writing on the web on your behalf. The fact that something might not violate the code of professional responsibility doesn’t mean it isn’t stupid and humiliating.

Now comes today’s example. In late December I wrote about a fundraising event for Sandy Hook (12 Miles to Newtown). I don’t need to explain the many levels of horribleness of the massacre of children.

But because the New Jersey law firm of [redacted] apparently outsourced its marketing, this piece of tripe was posted in the comments:

Its a good way to show that, people are still care for each others.
Thanks for this!!!
It was a phase which is gone so now we have to move on.

The  writer is listed as haddonfield new jersey law firm, which is obviously the first clue to spam. The second clue is the link to the website embedded with the name. The third clue is the Gmail address of

But the final clue is, of course, the meaningless gibberish, which is definable as crap unrelated to the posting. Really now, “It was a phase which is gone so now we have to move on”?

Congrats to [redacted] for having someone write this in their name. Well played gentlemen, well played.

And now an offer to the firm — an idea I poached from Popehat and have used before– if you are willing to cough up the name of your godawful marketing company, I will modify this post.
1/4/13 Update: Last night Drew Rigler of Impact Internet Marketing in New Jersey contacted me via email, aghast at what had happened. His small company does the Internet marketing for the law firm.

He says that everything they currently do is in house, and that their one attempt to outsource the creation of an app did not work out well. There isn’t anybody overseas that is paid to make comments on blogs. (The IP address for the comment spam says India.)

As I type, he said he is scrambling to find out how this happened. Now you would think that anyone looking to save their skin would claim to be aghast, right? But Rigler had this to say also, in his very first email to me:

I stand by our client and if you wish to drag anyone through the mud, feel free to use my name, my company, but not the great lawyers and team at [the law firm that hired us]. This is in no way reflective of them as a company or a firm.

That is an upstanding comment to make that I simply can’t take issue with.

I expect to update this again after Rigler completes his investigation. Since he (and the law firm) have a vested interest in finding out who did this and why, I expect that I will hear back from them.
1/4/13 Update - Rigler got back to me again to let me know that their current belief is that a “Negative SEO” company was trying to damage the law firm, by dropping comment spam here and hoping that I would write about it.  While I know there are bad people in this world — and that such black hat tactics might go on in politics —  I never knew that a company could be founded on that principle and then target lawyers for its “marketing.”

And yet, Rigler tells me that such a company had actually pitched its services to one of the lawyers previously, which they obviously rejected, and then two bits of subtle attack popped up. One was here and one was elsewhere (which he showed me). He also gave me a link to the company that does it, which I won’t share so as not to give it any link juice.

Why did this happen? Was it anger by a company whose entreaties were spurned? A competitor hiring it? Someone testing the waters to see what happens? I don’t know.

Caveat Jurista.

“You Wanna Be #1 on Google Forever?”

Oh, lordy, lordy, lordy, it just doesn’t get much better than this. An SEO salesman, trying to sell a lawyer a domain name, sounding drunk as a skunk, leaves a wonderfully rambling message. Not wonderful for him, of course, but for us.

And all of it deliciously placed on YouTube. Go ahead. Listen. It runs just over a minute. Trust me on this one.

So, was that, like, totally awesome, or what? Who the hell has to even write a post about it?

Can you imagine, someplace in America some lawyers might actually be outsourcing their marketing (and therefore their ethics) to this guy and his company?

A name, a name, my kingdom for a name! The recipient firm, McCollum & Griggs of Kansas City earns brownie points for putting this on the web, but publishing the name of the company, would have earned even more.

Hat tip to Bret Emison, also of Kansas City, who posted about it here.

BigLaw, Please Meet SmallLaw

(This is cross-published at Above the Law)

For the new ATL readers, let me introduce myself here in my first column. OK, screw that, I know you don’t really give a damn about me, so let’s jump to the meat and potatoes…

You all know that Dewey & LeBoeuf, filing for bankruptcy liquidation today, is the largest law firm to ever go bust. And that means a ton of people are now out of work, either scrambling to hitch their wagons to new firms or looking to start their own practices.

Because having your own firm is, to many, the Holy Grail of a law practice. Sure, some like the consistent fat paycheck, but the ranks of lawyers are filled with Type-A personalities who fantasize about practicing law the way they want to do it, not the way some other Type-A knucklehead has been telling them to do it.

There are only about a gazillion things to think about in starting your own shop: office space, support staff, technology and money to keep you going, to name a few. But today’s topic will be self-promotion and social media. And I don’t mean this in a good way, as in here’s how to go out and be famous on Twitter. No, no, a thousand times no. Instead I’d like to warn you about them, and help  you save your soul.

You’re welcome. Pull up a chair, and let’s review some of the more dreadful attorney marketing over the years. We’ll start in the toilet.

And when I say start in the toilet, I am perhaps, exaggerating a bit, because what I really mean is over a urinal. Now I know that no one from BigLaw would ever stoop low enough to advertise over a urinal, but you should know that marketing opportunities come in all shapes and sizes and that someone, somewhere might try to sell you something that doesn’t quite pass the smell test.

Selling is what marketers do, and dreams of a steady flow of clients is what many lawyers want to hear. That is always the salesman’s pitch, figuring out what the mark wants to hear. (“Would you like to have more cases?”) But I don’t suggest you take the ghoulish pitch from the funeral home website. Or that you advertise in a jail.

I won’t belabor the point of lousy marketing strategies, because I think you get the picture. If you’re going out on your own — and letting everyone know you are out on your own — you may start fielding inquiries not only from the commercial end of the pool where you once swam, but also questions from friends, family and neighbors that may focus on the consumer end of the law. That means criminal, personal injury, matrimonial, residential real estate, etc.

Some of you will dabble, not wanting to turn away business and curious as to how you might expand your practice. And some of you might actually like it, as your clients are likely to be real people instead of corporations. In addition to getting paid, you might get the warm, fuzzy feeling of actually helping a fellow human. But because these are people that don’t usually use legal services, it is also the domain of the mass advertiser.

So, for my new ATL readers, this is the thing to remember above all else: Marketing is part of our ethics codes. So if you outsource your marketing you outsource your ethics. It isn’t complicated; the marketer is your agent that is speaking for you. When the marketer calls and emails, you ask yourself: Is this the type of person I want to hand my law license to?

You may think that the company is reputable. But that is only because you really haven’t been watching the way some of us outside the BigLaw cocoon have been watching. Instead of giving examples of how the piddling marketing companies screw up (urinals, funeral homes, jails) — perhaps you figure you’ll just be safe and hire the biggest and best? —  let’s look at the Goliaths of the industry to see how well they have done.

First in the dock is Martindale Hubbell. One day it seems, some comment spam turned up on my blog. From them. That’s right, the great revered king of all kings in the legal directory business, was using black hat techniques to drum up business. By basically coming over to my place to stick a billboard for itself on my lawn. How did that happen? Because they weren’t actually doing the work, but had simply outsourced it to others (who may in turn have outsourced it yet again). So you should assume that no matter who you hire to market for you, it will end up being done by some kid in Bangalore, India who knows less than nothing about the practice of law and our codes of professional responsibility.

Next in the dock is FindLaw. What was their faux-pas? Creating crap. This company decided to create fax-blogs that did little more than repeat local news stories of accidents and then end with a links to the people that pay them. They were hoping that the people in the accidents would Google themselves and find the story and then click on the links to the lawyers that had paid FindLaw. At one point, I actually found them using the name of a dead child in the subject heading in order to lure in the family. Ask  yourself: Are these the types of people that you want to hand your ethics over to?

So this is the essence of what happens: The lawyer outsources marketing (and reputation) to a non-lawyer marketing company, which in turn hires or outsources your marketing (and reputation) to yet other people.

Don’t say you weren’t warned. Welcome to the world of attorney marketing. Please drive carefully.


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