“Do Not Commit Crimes With Checks”

On the NBA on TNT Thursday night, Charles Barkley had some advice for Jussie Smollett, causing Shaq to convulse in laughter and spit out his coffee. The crew joined in, posting a mock-up of a fake check for $3,500 made out to “Muggers” with “Mugging Supplies” penned in the memo.

Everyone’s talking about the hoax and the future of the actor’s career.

Are you?

Are you using this story (the basic story or the Barkley version) in your speaking, writing, newsletter or blog?

You could. And should. Because when you talk about what everyone is talking about, people notice.

You can leverage the story without getting into politics or racism.


You could review the legal issues for your readers, tell them what happened and what could happen next.

You could mention the story and then talk about one of your clients who did something stupid, got into trouble (civil or criminal) and hired you to help them.

You could quote Barkley and then talk about something else he once said (funny, pithy, strange, or otherwise) and use that other quote to segue into a story related to your practice.

Or you could do what I just did, tell your readers what Sir Charles said and then tell them what you think, e.g., it’s funny, not funny, premature, etc.

For the record: I laughed. Out loud. Especially when I saw the mock up of the check.

Good thing I wasn’t drinking coffee at the time.

How to use your website or blog to bring in more business

You may not like this idea but you may love the results

You want your practice to stand out in the crowd. You like the idea of free publicity. The idea of “going viral” appeals to you. You’d love to bring in a lot of new business.

Here’s an idea for a promotion that could help you accomplish all of the above.

Step one: find a “safe” charity or charitable cause

Choose a safe charity or cause to align with. Something that would appeal to your target market.

“Safe” means the organization is the real deal. Most of their revenue goes to causes, not overhead. There are no scandals. No political overtones to what they do.

It’s probably best to go with something small and local. You’ll be able meet with the people who run things, which can lead to additional marketing opportunities for you (e.g., networking, referrals, speaking).

Step two: choose one of your services you can give away free

(Yeah, that’s the part you may not like; but it could lead to results you’ll love).

This free service should be a “leader” or entry-level service, for new clients. For example, a simple Will package, incorporation, or an employee handbook review. If you bill by the hour, it could be a six-hour bundle.

Obviously, you’ll want to offer a service that is likely to appeal to the kinds of clients you target.

Make it as valuable and attractive as possible. Remember, the end game is to get publicity and traffic and new clients. The bigger you go, the more likely it is that your offer will accomplish this.

If you go really big, however, you may want to limit the number of “packages” that are available.

Step three: “Pay what you want—it’s for charity”

Promote your offer with a theme that new clients can pay what they want for the services and that 100% of the proceeds go to [name] charity.

Tell them the value of the package, or a suggested minimum donation.

For added punch, tie the promotion to a specific project the charity is running, e.g., the homeless shelter fund. And put a time limit on it.

Some clients may “cheat” and pay only a few dollars. But most people are honest and will do the right thing, if for no other reason than to help the charity.

Advertise and promote your offer as broadly as possible. Send out a press release. Email all of your lists and contacts and all of the bloggers and writers in your niche. Ask the charity to promote it in their newsletters, website, and bulletins. Ask them to ask their major donors and supporters to do the same.

You should get some favorable publicity from this. Traffic to your website and sign-ups for your newsletter. Meet some new referral sources connected with the charity. And get some new clients.

If all goes well, the next time you do this, you can partner up with other lawyers, other professionals, and other businesses, each of whom will promote this to their contacts, generating more goodness for all of you.

Leverage is the key to earning more without working more. Here’s the formula

Marketing legal services: let other people do it for you

You don’t want to blog or do a podcast but other people in your niche do. They need people to interview and people to write guest posts.

You, for example.

Find blogs and podcasts and video channels in your niche and introduce yourself to the head guy or gal. Compliment their work. Promote their content to your lists. Comment on their posts. Get on their Hangouts and contribute to the conversation.

Stay on their radar and eventually they will ask if they can interview you. In fact, once they know who you are, let them know that you are available and you’ll probably move to the front of their list.

By helping them, you help yourself. Your interviews and posts will get your name and contact information in front of people who need your services or who know someone who does. You’ll get more traffic to your website, more followers on social media, and more subscribers for your list. New clients will be next.

Remember, they need content and they can only create so much themselves. They need people like you to help them. As you help them, you help yourself.

The more you get your name out there, the more other bloggers and podcasters will seek you out. Marketing will get easier for you. Instead of doing one interview this month you’ll have three interviews this week.

Soon, your target market will see you “everywhere” and they will know that when they need a lawyer who does what you do, you are the one they want. Other professionals will see that you are in demand and choose you for their referrals.

Help others with their marketing and they will help you with yours.

Learn more about marketing legal services online, here

Viral videos for marketing a law firm

You may have seen a video depicting an unhappy, soon-to-be ex-husband who took the household furniture and cut everything in half.

I didn’t see it until today but apparently, a lot of people did. At last count the video is up to five million views.

The video wasn’t produced by an unhappy husband, however. It was a prank or advertising gimmick (call it what you will) commissioned by a German law firm. That firm recently came clean, admitted their skulduggery and apologized.

But why? It was clever and got a lot of attention. You could say that it made a valuable point, that in a divorce, if you don’t have proper counsel, you could lose half your possessions.

Was it misleading? Yeah, but so what? They could have “signed” the video with the firm name, but it wouldn’t have nearly as many views.

Is the whole idea tacky? Unbecoming for a law firm? You could make that case, but I say, lighten up. Nobody got hurt, a lot of people got a chuckle or two, and the firm got some attention that will, I’m sure, convert into new business.

Do you agree? Disagree? Have you use viral videos for marketing? Are you smacking your forehead and saying, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

The truth about global warming

You want to know the truth about global warming? The truth is that no matter what the truth is, a lot of people have made a lot of money and gained a lot of political capital by shouting about it from the rooftops.

You can do the same in your practice.

Not about global warming, necessarily, although you may choose that as your cause. You could be on either side of the issue and make a lot of hay. But any cause will do.

You need three things:

  1. A cause that has people on both sides
  2. One or more bad guys (people, companies, groups, etc.) you can denounce, and
  3. A passionate appeal for change, fueled by a heavy dose of fear

You can gain publicity, social media followers, supporters, contributors, and eventually, clients, by being the face and voice of something that gets people fired up.

Fear is essential. You’ve got to scare people or they won’t notice you or join your cause.

Pick something someone is doing and speak out against it. Launch a campaign against it. Tell the world about the evil that is being perpetuated and what will happen if something isn’t done about it.

Ideally, there will be a nexus between the cause and one of your clients or cases, or that is fundamental to your practice area. This will insulate you and give you the moral high ground in your role as an advocate.

It doesn’t matter whether the media loves you or hates you, promotes you or pans you. Any publicity is good publicity, as long as they spell your name right.

What matters is that you choose something that has legs and brings you enough supporters to make up for the ones on the other side of the issue that you will undoubtedly lose.

Okay, calm down. You don’t have to choose a politically charged issue like global warming and risk losing large swaths of your clients and friends. You can choose something less incendiary and do just fine.

You might find a local issue that is causing a stir, like the water shortages in California that are trending right now. Whose fault is it? What can be done about it?

You can gain fame and fortune by championing a cause that speaks to a constituency.

Choose a side and write about it on your blog. Stir the pot and see what happens.

Marketing is easy when you know The Formula

The number one factor in marketing legal services

When we talk about marketing legal services we say that clients hire and make referrals to lawyers they “know, like, and trust”. Of the three, “know” is the most important.

Trust is essential of course, but not that difficult to obtain. Most people give you the benefit of the doubt regarding your competency and trustworthiness, until you do something to show them why that trust is misplaced.

The biggest factor in your success is familiarity. The more people who know you, or at least recognize your name, the more fruitful will be your marketing and successful will be your career.

In fact, familiarity is what causes most people to give you the benefit of the doubt. Familiarity builds trust. That’s why incumbents are almost always re-elected.

Studies show that the number one factor in email open rates isn’t the subject; that’s number two. The number one factor is the sender’s name. Make sure your emails come from you, not your firm.

Familiarity also means keeping in touch with subscribers and followers on a frequent basis. A short email once a week is much better than a detailed white paper once a year.

Does your firm have a website? That’s fine. Make sure you also have one for yourself (and promote that one).

Your primary objective in marketing your legal services is to get as many people in your target market to know your name.

It’s not about how many people you know; it’s about how many people know you.

How to get more clients online

And the award goes to. . .

I won! I am the best blogger in the legal marketing arena. A NYC law firm just said so. They posted it on their blog, wrote about it in their newsletter, and sent out a press release telling the legal media why they think my blog is la creme de la creme.

Woo hoo! What an honor! I’m going to tell everyone I know!

Okay that didn’t happen. But if it did, I would certainly tell everyone I knew about it and give them a link to the firm’s website where they announced that I had won.

Wouldn’t you?

So, how could you use this idea for marketing purposes? Hmmm, let’s see. . .

What if once a month you announced your “client of the month” and featured one of your business clients on your blog or in your newsletter?

What if you announced an award to a local business or professional practice that isn’t a client but gave you or someone you know great service?

What if you let your clients or subscribers nominate local businesses and then vote on the winner?

Find people or businesses (or charities, community groups, etc.) who are doing something right and honor them with an award. Give them a certificate or a plaque, feature them on social media, interview the owner, and send out a press release.

You’ll get someone who is grateful for the attention and will probably send their customers, clients, or friends to your website to see what you said about them. You’ll get some new subscribers and followers, links to your website, and maybe some new clients.

And you’ll feel good knowing you called attention to someone who deserves it.

This is not your father’s law practice

Every few weeks, a real estate agent in my area sends me oversized postcards describing her listings. The other day, she mailed me a calendar for the fridge. I’d had enough. I wrote to her and told her, “Take me off your list! UNSUBSCRIBE!”

The nerve of some people.

Okay, that never happened. I told my wife I was going to do it, thinking I would at least get a charity laugh, but she’s endured my warped sense of humor for 34 years and this was probably too much to ask.

But it did make me think about how the world has changed since I first opened my law practice, or my father did before me.

Before email, if you wanted to communicate with prospective clients (real estate or law), you could put something in the mail. It worked before and it still works today. In fact, it works better today because so few do it anymore (and because nobody accuses you of spam when you do.)

You may have never done any direct mail, but if you want to bring in new business, this is a viable choice for many attorneys.

Advertising works.

If you don’t want to do direct mail, there are alternatives. Display ads, ezine ads, pay-per-click ads, classified ads, and more, can drive traffic to your website and clients to your office.

If you don’t want to advertise your services, you could advertise a book or report or audio. You could advertise a charity or cause you believe in and include your firm’s name (and web link) as sponsor.

Writing articles, blogging, social media, speaking, networking–they’re all forms of advertising. You may not write a check when you do them, but you’re doing something to get your name in front of people who can hire you or refer others. When you write to former clients, you’re reminding them that you’re still available to help them and the people they know. Yep, advertising.

A PI attorney in Georgia, Jamie Casino, ran a local two-minute TV spot during the Super Bowl. Perhaps you saw it. It’s received over five million views on Youtube. We can debate whether the ad is ethical or in bad taste, or whether he did it as a stunt or truly believes in his message, but one thing is certain: the ad and the buzz it has created will put more than a few shekels in Mr. Casino’s pockets.

I’m not saying that if you advertise, you should look to this as a model. I’m saying, it’s a tough market for attorneys today and if you’ve never thought about advertising before, perhaps you should. Even if all you do is mail out some calendars.

Don’t want to do paid advertising? Here are the best alternatives.

Ron Burgundy promoting your law practice?

Advertising works. Even silly campaigns like the one Dodge is running featuring fictional newscaster Ron Burgundy, played by actor Will Farrell, as spokesman. Sales of the Dodge Durango were up 36% in November versus last year, thanks to these ads and the tie-in with the upcoming sequel to the 2004 hit movie, Anchorman.

Why do these ads work? There’s nothing new being said about the Durango. And the Ron Burgundy character isn’t a car expert, fictional or otherwise. It works because people recognize the character, talk about the ads, and think about the Durango when they are in the market for a new vehicle.

Most lawyers don’t use celebrity endorsements in their advertising, but they could. It’s not as expensive as you might think to hire a former sports figure or B-list actor. In fact, there are agents who specialize in booking their clients for just this purpose. I recall seeing former Los Angeles Dodger’s stars Steve Garvey and Ron Cey doing local TV ads long after they were retired from playing.

Also, you don’t need someone whom “everyone” would recognize. You can hire someone who is well known in your niche market. The former head of a trade association, for example.

But let’s say you don’t want to hire anyone. Hell, let’s say you don’t want to do any paid advertising, (or aren’t allowed to). What then? You can still leverage the celebrity of famous people.

My friend, attorney Mitch Jackson, regularly interviews famous people for his video podcast. These videos bring traffic to his website and bolster his reputation as someone who is successful enough to have famous people willing to “take his call”. In essence, their appearance on his “show” provides an implied endorsement for his practice.

How did he get some of these folks to agree to an interview? I’m sure he’ll tell you he just asked them. Celebrities, speakers, authors, professionals, and entrepreneurs need exposure. I love being interviewed. It free advertising, easy to do, and lots of fun.

If you don’t have a podcast, video or otherwise, you could interview well known people for your blog or newsletter. Who do you know who is famous, if not to the world, within your target market? Do you have a famous client or friend? If not, do you know someone who does?

If nobody comes to mind, ask yourself, “Who would I like to know? Who might my market like to hear me interview? What semi-famous person has a list of followers or fans who would be good candidates for my services?’

Another thing you can do is piggyback on a charitable cause. Invite celebrities to come to an event you are involved with, lend their name to it, or promote it to their social media channels. Celebrities love to be seen associated with causes they believe in.

You don’t need a direct endorsement for your services to benefit from a celebrity’s name recognition. Even mentioning that you met a well known person at an event you attended has value. Hey, you don’t even need to talk to them. Just take selfies with famous people and post them online.

Do you have a marketing plan for next year? Start with this.

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.