Archive for the ‘Law Firms’ Category

Don’t Go Negative Online or on Email

January 3, 2011

Here is a lesson two Florida lawyers learned the hard way after they were sanctioned by the Florida Supreme Court for flaming one another through email.

Replace “email” with “Facebook” or any other social networking outlet and the same lesson applies.

Debt Collector Hit with Facebook Harassment

November 16, 2010

MarkOne, an auto financing company has been hit with a lawsuit in Florida from a debtor who claims that her lender committed harassment by contacting her family members on Facebook and telling them that she was late with her car payments.

Her law firm, Morgan & Morgan believes she is a sympathetic plaintiff – placing her on the sidebar of the law firm’s homepage here.

Previously I have discussed how debt collectors have been using Facebook and social networking to apply pressure on debtors. Perhaps this case will lead to specific legislation banning these practices.

Blogs that Repurpose Accident News Articles

November 1, 2010

Kevin O’Keefe rails against this blog post which appears in the Maine Injury Blog published by Peter Thompson & Associates.  O’Keefe’s argument as to why this is an exploitative posting is that it uses the death of an 18-year-old in a car accident in order to promote the law firm which authors the blog.  He points out in particular the use of the teen’s name as egregious behavior.  I think that Mr. O’Keefe is shining a light on an important question – how should lawyers blog about highly sensitive matters?

Devil’s advocate

I blogged about this issue in earlier this year about a similar blog post. In both examples the claim was made that the lawyer’s was simply re-posting an article in order to increase his visibility in search results.  To be fair to the criticized lawyer, many of his blog posts contain original content.  That said, I have no problem with Kevin O’Keefe  pointing out this blog post as insensitive and as an example of an underwritten blog post.  On those counts, I agree.  Where I have a problem is the tone of this paragraph:

“I wonder how this recent high school grad’s parents feel about what you’re doing Pete. But what do you care? You’re just a personal injury lawyer out to make a buck.”

Does Mr. O’Keefe a personal relationship with Mr. Thompson?  Why couldn’t Mr. O’Keefe have responded privately to Mr. Thompson on his contact page to communicate his strong feelings?

Added to that, Mr. O’Keefe works with attorneys on their blogs for profit.  I do that also as does Justia the company that assists Mr. Thompson with his blog.    Here is Mr. O’Keefe providing his motivation for calling out Mr. Thompson.

“I don’t share this to impress you, but to impress upon you that there is a better way to obtain work as a plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer. And that it’s well within your reach. As a lawyer — and as legal website and blog solution provider…We’ll not have blogs like the above personal injury law blogs on The LexBlog Network.”

I don’t assign a cynical motivation to Mr. O’Keefe for bringing this blog example to his readers.  I have no doubt he was genuinely outraged by reading this blog post.  However, it just so happens that his outrage complements his commercial interest which is to educate lawyers on the value of developing quality blogs which happens to be what Mr. O’Keefe and his company provides.

Constructive Criticism – Not Moral Outrage

From an educational perspective, Mr. O’Keefe could point out an antitrust lawyer who re-posts a news story about a price-fixing case and then includes a blurb promoting his practice and why that’s not an effective way to blog.  That attorney and Mr. Thompson could argue that one of the values of blogging is having someone who is watching the news in a narrow niche and serving their readership by saying, “hey read this.”

Is Shaming Productive?

Impugning the credibility of a professional only increases defensiveness and makes it harder to educate and inform.   Blogging is still new and the rules aren’t exactly the same as those for professional journalism.  I would like to think the legal profession is still learning about how to best use this medium effectively and successfully.  I know that I am.

What do you think?

Attorneys: Reach Out to Small Biz

October 21, 2010

Here is an interesting post from Legal Marketing Blog about how 51% of small businesses avoid hiring lawyers because they fear the cost yet 25% believe legal issues are the biggest risk to their business.  Obviously there is a disconnect.

How to Market to Small Businesses

1.  Let them know you welcome small businesses as clients

2.  Join Chamber of Commerce, a BNI chapter and other small business hubs

3.  Offer set fees for common legal tasks

4.  Write a blog focused on legal issues in a particular small business sector

5.  Make sure you include all this in your website messaging!

MoFo iPhone app – strategically flawed

August 25, 2010

Here is an article praising the launch of MoFo’s iphone application “MoFo2Go.”  It argues that the app is successful because there have been 1,500 downloads, client praise and positive press.  The article then goes on to pose six questions a law firm should answer before moving forward with their own ap.

How many MoFo employees are there?

My guess is that 1,500 downloads constitutes less than all the employees of Morrison and Foerster.  And remember this is a free ap and with its reference for looking up for MoFo lawyers, this would be particularly handy for MoFo employees.  However, I’m not convinced that clients are eagerly downloading MoFo2Go.

Wrong Question

The second question posed by the article is, “What types of features can you offer app users?” I think this is the wrong question.  The right question is, “what pre-existing MoFo electronic content would most benefit MoFos’ clients and prospects?” MoFo2Go is focused on MoFo NOT on what the clients and prospects need.

For Example…

MoFo publishes lots of client alerts and rather than focuses on “People” and a game,  focus the app just around the client alerts and re-purposes the PDF content to make it easy for clients and prospect to scan this rich and valuable resource.  Is it fun?  No but that’s not what people look for from their law firm.

Lawyer websites and videos

June 13, 2010

This post from the Official Google Webmaster blog about how to maximize the benefits of videos for SEO purpose, brings home the issue of lawyers including videos on their website.  Here are five tips on this subject.

1.  Provide valuable information in your videos. Don’t just post a “welcome to my website” video on your home-page.  Discuss a pressing issue that your law firm handles and successfully resolves for clients on a regular basis.

2. Create a YouTube channel for multiple videos.  This will allow you to extend the value of your videos and drive people from Youtube to your website.

3. Make sure your video incorporates the look and feel you want your law practice to convey. If you want to appear hip, that’s one thing.  If you want to look trustworthy and professional, that’s another.  Your videos need to be consistent with your overall marketing messaging.

4.  Multipurpose your videos: Give out links or information about upcoming events or encourage people to sign up for a white paper that gives them more details about the topic.

5.  Make sure your website platform is very video friendly. For example, the WordPress platform makes it very easy to incorporate video within your web-pages.

In-house counsel pay attention to lawyer blogs

May 28, 2010

According to this study, 43% of in-house counsel turn to blogs as a primary source for news (really?).  More importantly, 27% consider lawyer blogs important to their decision to hire outside counsel.

I’m always dubious of these kinds of studies but it makes sense particularly if the blog is related to the subject matter for which in-house counsel would consider hiring counsel.  To be fair, blogs ranked the lowest among the factors in-house counsel consider when hiring.  Bios on websites out-ranked blogs in importance.

Lawyers: cautiously approach social networking

May 3, 2010

Here is one of the many posts about how lawyers should approach social networking.  It’s written to a Canadian audience of attorneys and it appears to be written by a non-lawyer.  Here is a key quote:

“Like many organizations, law firms are concerned about confidentiality and liability issues, so your firm and individual lawyers require clear guidelines about the content to include in these communications.”

I don’t know the rules in Canadia regarding attorney advertising but this statement is misleading for attorneys practicing in the U.S.  Attorneys have to worry about additional concerns involving attorney client privilege and what constitutes engaging with a client that are above and beyond what non-attorney organizations must do.

Before you decide how to create a disclaimer, check with your state bar association and read their rules of professional responsibility.  If they don’t provide much assistance, then check the ABA model rules on professional responsibility as they may provide more clarity and most states have adopted very similar rules.

Friday Freebie: Guide to getting on the web

March 5, 2010

DSD Law Site Solutions is making a white paper available for how lawyers should go about developing an effective website.

Click here

Email scam hit law firms

February 23, 2010

This is not a new scam but the target is new.  According to news reports, the prospective client emails a request for representation to the law firm and then sends a cashier’s check far exceeding the law firms typical retainer.  The firm wires the money back to the client only to then discover that the original cashier’s check was counterfeit.  So far, two firms have fallen for the scheme out of six attempts.

Lesson: don’t engage a client without at least a phone call first!