This is WHY the ABA wants new rules to regulate online lawyer marketing

world's tackiest lawyer ad everLast week, I joined the chorus of attorneys who strongly object to the ABA’s proposal to promulgate new rules regulating what attorneys can do on the Internet to market their services.

This weekend, I saw a video of a TV commercial by Florida divorce attorney, Steven D. Miller and thought I might have been hasty. The video, which someone put on YouTube with the caption, “Tackiest Lawyer Ad. . .Ever,” is a prime example of why the ABA is considering new rules. Watch and you’ll see why.

[mc src=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1Qk6QPzuIc” type=”youtube”]Tackiest Lawyer Ad Ever[/mc]

Wait. It gets better.

The web site for Mr. Miller’s practice is. . . (are you sitting down?). . . “DivorceDeli.com“. Yep, you can look at their menu, call or click, and order your divorce. “Would you like pickles with your restraining order?”

I’m pretty open minded but let’s face it, this commercial and the entire “deli” concept is in very bad taste. It reflects poorly on all lawyers. One subscriber to this blog wrote to say he was against lawyer advertising of any kind because of the negative impression lawyers’ TV commercials have on juries and this has to be “Exhibit A”. But as ugly as this is, I still don’t want (or think we need) more rules.

I don’t want to legislate taste. I don’t want to outlaw embarrassing behavior. I don’t want to be told what I can and cannot do. And, unless it is the only way to prevent serious, irreparable harm, I don’t want to tell anyone else what to do.

Mr. Miller obviously does what he does because it’s working for him. God bless him. He’s serving a segment of society that might otherwise be denied access to the legal system because of their lack of funds (or good taste). I disagree with his approach but I must defend his right to do what he does without interference from the ABA or anyone else.

So, whether you laughed at this video and web site or recoiled in disgust, I hope you’re with me. If you agree that despite examples like these, we don’t need or want additional regulations, please tell the ABA.

Comments should be sent to: Natalia Vera, Senior Research Paralegal, Commission on Ethics 20/20 ABA Center for Professional Responsibility, 321 North Clark Street, 15th Floor, Chicago, IL 60654-7598. Phone: 312/988-5328, fax: 312/988-5280 and email: veran@staff.abanet.org. The comment period ends on December 15.

Attorney Turns Director–Debut Film Exposes American Bar Association Plot

David S. Ward is the Hollywood writer and director of “Field of Dreams,” “The Sting,” and many other amazingly successful films. I never met the man but when I lived in Beverly Hills I would sometimes get calls from his fans, telling me how much they enjoyed “my” latest movie. I confess to having a lifelong dream of writing novels and screenplays but for years, David M. Ward has lived in the shadow of David S. Ward.

Not anymore.

Today, my dream has become reality as I am now the writer, producer and director of my first motion picture.

Last week, I found out from Larry Bodine that the ABA wants to regulate marketing on the Internet. Big Brother wants to control just about everything we do online. According to Larry, the proposal would have a chilling affect on every aspect of attorney marketing:

  • Online social networking (Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter)
  • Blogging
  • Facebook and Linkedin profiles
  • Pay per click advertising
  • Gathering information through networking websites
  • Discussion forums
  • Lawyer websites
  • Use of case histories on law firm websites

Tom Kane echoed Bodine’s concerns and I do too.

We have enough rules. Too many rules. Unnecessary rules. We are regulated, micro-managed, watched, and warned, by the very organization that is supposed to represent our interests. True, the ABA has no direct jurisdiction over us but they wield tremendous influence over the bar associations that do.

Enough is enough

I decided to do something about it. This film, “The Convention,” is an urgent message to all attorneys to rise up and tell the ABA, “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore!”

And now, I present to you, uncensored and uncut, “The Convention”:

[mc src=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93lmTepypqU” type=”youtube”]The Convention: A young lawyer attends his first ABA Convention[/mc]

Okay, just having some fun but this is a very serious subject. I urge you to write to the ABA and tell them to keep their hands off. The cut off for discussion is December 15, so please voice your concerns and tell your colleagues to do the same.

The single most valuable skill for attorney marketing

copy writing for attorneysLearning how to write effective copy not only helped me to build a successful law practice, it helped me to sell millions of dollars of my signature marketing course and other products. Copy writing, which as been called “salesmanship in print” is an important skill for every attorney, even those with no intention of writing their own sales materials.

Effective marketing documents can make the different between unbridled success and abject failure. A change of headline or offer can increase the pulling power of a letter or ad or web site twenty-fold–and even more.

The best way to learn copy writing is to study effective marketing documents. When you see something good, something that’s working, perhaps something that made you buy a product or service, copy the sales letter or ad or web page so you can study it. Create a “swipe” file of letters, brochures, ads, web pages, newsletters, and other compelling copy, to study, for ideas and to use as models for creating your own documents.

(Shameless plug alert. . .) The Lawyers’ Marketing Toolkit is a swipe file of marketing documents for lawyers. It is a collection of referral letters, reports, ads, newsletters, brochures, and other marketing documents submitted to me for critique by lawyers in my marketing program–along with my (detailed) critiques.

Start your copy writing education by studying the sales letter for The Toolkit. Print the page, copy it, read and re-read it. It works and it could be the first document for your new swipe file.

After many years of collecting marketing documents in file boxes, today, I use Evernote to collect them electronically. It’s free and a great place to start your swipe file.

[mc src=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObHOvFoRLxk&feature=mfu_in_order&playnext=1&videos=QOSWMn-miTw” type=”youtube”]The single most valuable skill for attorney marketing[/mc]