Illegal aliens can now practice law in California


California Governor Jerry Brown just signed a bill allowing illegal aliens to become attorneys.


Officers of the court no longer have to abide by the law. That oath thingy? Upholding the Constitution? Nobody really takes that seriously, do they?

Grow up, people. Laws are silly.

I am curious, though. When an illegal alien attorney reports his or her income, whose social security number are they using? Who cares, as long as it’s not mine.

Anyway, just when you thought there were already too many attorneys competing for clients, now this. What to do. . .

Take sides. Make some noise for or against this, on your blog and in the media. Tell the world what you think. Why it’s wrong (or right), what it means, what’s next. Issue a press release. Write a paper. Give interviews. You can do this even if you’re not in California.

Whatever you do, do it loudly. You’ll get support from people who think you’re saying something that needs to be said. And you’ll get attention from people who think you’re evil and should be burned at the stake.

Either way, you’ll get traffic to your website and new clients. Just like I’m sure this post will do for me.

Need ideas for blog posts? Other ways to get traffic? Make the Phone Ring has what you need. Go here.


New law practice: How do I get the word out?


I got an email last week: “Do you have suggestions for getting the word out on new (solo) law firms”

Q: Press releases to big city newspapers?

Unless your announcement qualifies as news, these are unlikely to get printed. If you are semi-famous or you’re planning to do something very unusual in your law practice, a press release might get picked up. Otherwise, probably not.

If you want to go this route, your best bet is to send them to niche publications: small town newspapers (where you grew up or your dad was well known), blogs or magazines in a market where you have a connection, that sort of thing.

Q: Mailing announcements to the Bar list (of business attorneys) and/or business owners?

Announcements mailed to other lawyers or business owners are a waste of time. They don’t know you and they don’t care that you’re opening your own office.

You could mail something they would care about: a free report that helps them protect themselves or their clients or earn more in their business or practice. A postcard that offers a report like that, and sends them to your web site to get it, would cost a lot less than actually mailing the report. It could bring lots of traffic, opt-ins, and eventually, some business. However, even post cards are expensive and you need to know what you’re doing.

This can be a viable way get clients, but for a new practice with limited funds, it’s not the best place to start.

Q: Hiring a service to send email announcements to the Bar list and to our own contact list?

Emailing to people you don’t know (i.e., Bar list) could get you into trouble for spamming. There are legitimate “opt in” lists available where people have given permission to receive email, and there are services that will provide these lists and do the emailing for you, but you would be wasting your time and your money.

Again, they don’t know you and they don’t care about your announcement.

However, emailing or sending announcements via regular mail to your own contact list is a great idea.

You should definitely send an announcement to the people you know. Friends, family, people you know from college and law school, and former employers. If you have a connection of any kind, put them on your list.

They do care about you and what you are doing. They will read your announcement. They may respond and wish you the best of luck. At some point, they may also send some business.

Here are my three “rules” for announcing a new law practice:

  1. Send your announcement to everyone you know; don’t bother with strangers, unless you have a very good reason to do so and the budget to pay for it.
  2. An announcement is okay; a letter is much better. Write a semi-personal letter that gives the who, what, where, when, and why of your announcement. Why are opening your own office? What do you want to accomplish? Who are you looking to help? What will you do for them? People will look at an engraved announcement for three seconds and then throw it out. Those same people will take their time reading a heart-felt letter on plain paper or in an email. They will remember your story and may even share it with others.
  3. Don’t rely on a one-time mailing. Follow up your announcement with additional communication–a newsletter, calls, invitations to your grand opening, personal visits. Stay in touch with them, remind them again and again about what you do and for whom you do it, and ask for their help.

Even if there are only 100 people on your initial list, these are the people to whom you should announce your new practice. They do know you and they are willing to help.

They may not be able to send you any business (right now), but they can help promote your web site, like your page, or distribute your new report. They can help you get the word out.


The Attorney Marketing Center: Official Blog of Successful Attorneys Everywhere


My wife saw a coupon this morning for a dry cleaner (seems to be a theme with me lately) that had just changed its name from “Luck Cleaners” to “Joy Cleaners”. Or something something like that.

What caught my attention was the statement, “Official Cleaner of [a well known clothing company]”.

I wondered how they had achieved that. “How does one become the official anything for a well known company?”

Were they doing the cleaning for the company and simply asked if they could advertise that they were the official cleaner? Or did they approach the company and offer to do their cleaning for free or at a big discount, in return for being able to say they were the official cleaner?

It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that a law firm could do the same thing.

If you have a business client who is well known in your niche market, ask them if you could mention the fact that yours is the official law firm for their company. Then, mention your official-ness everywhere. You will be providing social proof of the worthiness of your firm.

You could approach any well known company and offer them free legal services in return for an official designation. But what do you do if the better known companies already have lawyers they are happy with and they aren’t willing to switch, even to get free services from you?

Find a charity and see if they would like some free legal services.

It doesn’t matter how well known the charity’s name is. When your marketing messages say that your firm is the official law firm for the “Save the Platypus Foundation,” or whatever, people will notice. Your name will be associated with doing good work for a good cause.

The press will notice, because you will send out a media release and announce it.

Similar charities will notice because, well, they are similar.

And every company your charity does business with will notice, especially if your offer requires the charity to mention your firm in all of their mailings and advertising collateral.

You should also be able to get yourself invited to the charity’s dinners and fund raisers, hang a banner at the charity’s booth at their industry’s conventions, and network with their board of directors, major donors and supporters.

And because you are the “official law firm. . .,” you’ll be able to reach out to other professionals, business owners, politicians, and other influentials, to invite them as your guest to one of the charity’s events.

I don’t know how this will all play out for you, but I can tell you that this could bring you a lot of business. Even if you never mention that you are the “official law firm,” the contacts you will make and the paying clients that result, will more than pay for the services you donate.

Choose a charity you believe in, of course, something you would support regardless of personal gain. Get excited about their cause. And tell everyone to join you in supporting them.

You will have great Joy and great Luck. I’m not sure if your clothes will be any cleaner, however.


Five ways lawyers can leverage a win or other successful outcome to get more clients


Most lawyers go from case to case, client to client, never stopping to use the successful outcomes they create as marketing leverage for bringing in more clients. That’s because they’re thinking like a lawyer, not a rainmaker.

Instead of rushing from one case to the next, take a few minutes to think about how you can use the successful outcome (verdict, settlement, closing the deal, estate plan, etc.) to get the story told to the people who can bring you more business.

Here are five ways you could do that.

  1. Your client. The best time to talk to clients about referrals is right after a successful outcome. When you hand them a check, sign papers, or otherwise bring things to a climax, it’s prime time to ask for referrals, for a testimonial, or for other help.

    Ask consumer clients to refer you to their friends and family or to other professionals they know. Ask your business clients to introduce you to their vendors or distributors, to write about the case in their newsletter or blog, or submit an article to their local paper. (You can write the article for them).

    The favor you ask your client doesn’t have to be related to their case. They’re happy and willing to help, so ask them to distribute your new report, “like” your new blog post, or invite their friends to your upcoming seminar. And ask them to ask their friends to do the same.

  2. Your other clients and prospects. Write about your successful outcome in your blog and newsletter. Post it on your web site. Do a little bragging on social media channels. Take advantage of the win to let others see you doing what you do, helping others “just like them” achieve the same benefits they seek.
  3. Other parties/witnesses. Send a quick note to the other parties and/or their counsel, thanking them for their professionalism. Send a thank you note to experts and other witnesses, for a job well done. It’s not uncommon to see the losing side hiring the winning attorney or sending referrals or opposing counsel referring clients when they have a conflict. By the way, do the same thing when you lose a case or settle for less than hoped.
  4. Your colleagues. Tell other lawyers you know about your case. Send a letter, speak about it at Bar functions, write an article, point them to your blog post. Tell the story and share the legal nuances, give them tips about the judge or arbitrator or experts. Help them do better on their next case and they will appreciate you, reciprocate with good information on their next case, and send business your way when they have a conflict.
  5. The media. Find something newsworthy or otherwise interesting about the case, your clients or their company and issue a press release or write an article for publication in their trade journal or home town paper. The media are starved for good stories; don’t assume there’s no news value to preparing a living trust for your blue collar client. In the hands of a good writer, there’s always a story to be told.

Leverage means getting more results from the same effort. From now on, leverage your successful outcomes to get more publicity, more speaking engagements, more traffic to your web site, and more new clients.


How to get big personal injury cases


A personal injury attorney wrote and asked me if I have a strategy for bringing in bigger cases. I was a personal injury attorney for most of my legal career and when I look back at what I did, I have to say that I did not have that strategy. In fact, I intentionally focused on bringing in a volume of smaller cases.

My thinking was that quantity would bring quality. Bring in thousands of clients over a period of years and you are bound to have some big cases in the mix. And that was certainly true for me. But I also recall thinking, as every personal injury attorney does, that one day, I’ll get a case that will bring me millions of dollars in fees and I’ll be able to retire if I want to. But in twenty years, that never happened. Big cases, yes, but not a single practice-making monster.

But there’s something else I understood and that was that I was not one of the big boys. The biggest cases are almost always handled by the biggest names and most of the time, they are referred there by other attorneys. I wasn’t prepared to compete in that arena. I didn’t have the expertise and, more importantly, I didn’t have the passion for developing it.

The best strategy for getting the biggest cases is to become one of the best lawyers. Win bigger and bigger verdicts, develop your skills and your reputation amongst the bar, and when you have the respect of your colleagues, you will get their referrals.

Another way to get big cases is the one adopted by a lot of attorneys who aren’t one of the best and that is to appear to be. They swing a big stick with multiple full page yellow page ads and TV commercials, they sponsor charitable events attended by centers of influence in their community, they network with the right people, send press releases celebrating their victories, and otherwise promote themselves so that they appear to be one of the biggest and one of the best. And by and large, it works.

To do this, you need money and some marketing skills, but most of all, you need drive. The biggest promoters have big, healthy egos. They are driven as much by the desire for attention as the desire for money. I’m not taking anything away from them. They are usually good enough to serve their clients well and smart enough to bring in one of the best when they aren’t.

If you’re not one of the best and you aren’t willing or able to become one, and if you’re not willing to do what the big promoters do, there is an alternative: target niche markets. Become the biggest fish in a small market where word of mouth is strong and limited resources (and hubris) can go a long way. Become the attorney everyone in that market thinks of when they think of injuries. Network in that market, write for that market, serve that market and the centers of influence in it, and over time, you’ll get big cases. Do it well enough and long enough and you may even get one of the very biggest.


New resources for marketing your law practice online


If you’re interested in marketing your law practice online (and you should be) there are two resources I want to recommend. The first is a new book, "The New Rules of Marketing & PR" by David Meerman Scott. The sub-title is, "How to use news releases, blogs, podcasting, viral marketing & online media to reach buyers directly." That about says it all. I’ve just started reading it and can tell you, it’s excellent. Highly recommended.

The other resource is a free ebook from consultant Brandon Cornet at It covers web sites, blogging, search engines, lead generation, and has links to oodles of resources. Valuable stuff.

Cornet’s ebook is itself a fine example of viral online marketing, in that it is a free download from his web site (you don’t even need to supply an email address to get it), coupled with good content that demonstrates his knowledge and experience. Sure enough, here I am "distributing" it to you, and thus, this strategy could quickly generate hundreds of qualified leads for Cornet’s consulting services.

It illustrates another key marketing concept, niche marketing. Cornet could hold himself out as, simply, an Internet/website consultant, hoping to appeal to "everyone" but, like so many others, he would find his voice drowned out by his many competitors. Instead, by targeting lawyers, he narrows his focus, which should make it easier to both generate leads and close them, since clients (and that includes lawyers) prefer specialists.

Both books agree, the Internet has forever changed the rules of marketing. Those who ignore this, do so at their peril.



Free, easy way to send press releases


I just sent out a press release announcing the re-opening of The Attorney Marketing Center, the re-naming of the newsletter, and some background about me.

There are several free services available for sending a press release. I chose because it was easy to open an account and easy to send the release. They had also been recommended.

There are many paid press release distribution services. Two of the best known are and Why would you choose a paid service? One reason is that busy editors are, arguably, more likely to read a release coming from one of these services than one of the free ones.

The paid services also allow targeting, and since I want to reach lawyers, using the free, untargeted services would seem to be pointless. Not so. The free services do a good job of distributing your release to search engines and directories where they will take up permanent residence and point to your web site, and this provides immediate, tangible value. Sure, I’d like a writer or editor to pick up my release and run it or contact me for an interview, but that is unlikely given the tepidness of my "news".

Check out some of the services available. Search "press release distribution". Most provide good tips on writing press releases and other valuable information.

And here is my press release.