A retail business owner asked me why I don’t believe in pay-per-click advertising or spending money on SEO strategies for my practice, as it has worked well for his stores. So I asked him: “What would you do if you needed a lawyer?” “I would call someone, get a name, and then look that person up,” he said. “You wouldn’t just do a Google search?” “No, never. After I got a name, I would check out the lawyer’s background, maybe see if he’s written anything that gives him credibility.”
No kids, he’s not talking about cute tweets or postings with links on a Facebook Fan Page. He’s talking about real writing, and he’s talking about getting your name from real people.
Now I know that I’m wrong, don’t know what I’m talking about, and am facing a sure death of my practice by suggesting that there are other ways of getting your name out there besides vomiting all over every social media platform, but it’s okay. When it all dries up, I’m sure I will have plenty of job offers from the wildly successful lawyers of the commentariat.
For those wondering if the life of a lawyer will ever be anything more than keeping track of your Google prowess by taking calls of, “I found you on the internet. How much do you charge?,” I have good news — it can be. There are actually real people out there that are looking for quality. It’s not that they found you first; it’s that they found you after a little research. If you’re going to be the type of lawyer that is found after someone gives your name, you might as well have something on the internet that evidences you have done more than just listen to some unemployed lawyer’s advice on building a practice.
My ideas are all free, and if you’re not afraid to use your real name, you may get some benefit from using them….
1. Those community newspapers you see at the local deli, they need a recurring column written by a lawyer. They’ll publish your name and picture, and a little bio. They’ll need you to write basic stuff about law. Maybe you can do that. Post the articles to your JD Supra account. Of course you have a JD Supra account, it’s where lawyers post documents and other items. First lawyer to get this gig and send me their first article gets it mentioned here, or a Starbucks gift card. Pick one.
By the way, your state bar association also has a publication. Distribution? Every lawyer and judge in your state. Submit an article.
2. Besides local bar associations, your town has a few business organizations. You’ve never heard of them. See #1 for where they advertise their meetings. They want you to come speak to them for 20 minutes about anything. You’ll have to wear something that makes you look like a lawyer, so maybe tuck in your t-shirt. They may want you to sponsor the breakfast or lunch. Consider doing that, even if your one of those new lawyers that believes you can and should build a practice without investing a dime.
3. You have friends that actually leave their homes and do more than pimp themselves on the internet. They’re in bar organizations, business networks, non-profits, cults — tell them you are inviting yourself to their next event. If you have more than a few friends, you now have a fairly decent social schedule where you can get introduced to people that won’t say they found you on the internet.
4. Op-ed pieces in the local newspaper. Yes, people still read the paper. An op-ed piece gives you the opportunity to write a decent sized analysis of a current event related to your practice. A new law is passed? Express your opinion. A caveat, because you are using your real name, you probably have to be truthful and know what you are talking about.
5. Introduce yourself to local media. Instead of quietly cursing local reporters for their lack of knowledge about the law, personally tell them they are wrong (or right — if that happens.) All reporters have email. Good reporters don’t want to be wrong, but many don’t have connections in the legal community. Be a resource. They’ll call you five times and mention your name only once, but eventually, if you develop good relationships, you’ll be able to call a reporter about your case instead of sending out those silly worthless press releases that no one cares about.
Actually, now that I’ve read through these again, forget it. These things take too long. Do the pay-per-click-advertising thing, and ask people to “like” and “follow” you. Keep taking those calls asking how much you charge. It’s much easier, and you don’t have to think much or get dressed.
Brian Tannebaum will never “get on board” at the advice of failed lawyers who were never a part of the past but claim to know “the future of law.” He represents clients, every day, in criminal and lawyer discipline cases without the assistance of an Apple device, and usually gets to work (in an office, not a coffee shop) by 9 a.m. No client has ever asked if he’s on Twitter. He can be reached at email@example.com.