Adventures in Lawyer Advertising

The excessively talented David M. Anderson.

We all know that the legal market is dismal these days. People will go to almost any lengths to land jobs. A perfect résumé touting your strongest attributes is key. Most lawyers implicitly understand that this means legal attributes – you know, things that portray a sense of professional competence. But every now and then we come across a special someone who throws conventional wisdom out the window and provides us with a perfect example of what not to do.

Today’s special someone is David M. Anderson of Mahoney Anderson LLC in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. A perusal of the Mahoney Anderson website raises several questions – not the least of which are who the Mahoney in Mahoney Anderson is, where Mr. Anderson went to law school, and what Mr. Anderson might have done in his legal career prior to working for his current mysteriously-named firm.

Thankfully, we have David Anderson’s marketing ad (gavel bang: An Associate’s Mind). It is a gem. It might not answer any of these questions, or, quite frankly, tell you anything that might make you want to hire Mr. Anderson. But it is certainly the worst most unique approach to attorney advertising I have seen in quite some time….

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Before this column launched, I spent several moments stewing over possible pseudonyms. After all, branding is everything. So, I wanted to come up with a name that said to my audience that I was a small-firm expert and a super-cool chick. Naturally, I picked the name that is synonymous with post-menopausal Jewish bubbies. Perhaps I still have a thing or two to learn about branding.

I am not the only small-firm lawyer with a problem selecting the right name. Indeed, after Jay Shepherd opened my eyes to the hyphen-crisis, I began noticing a comma-crisis. Specifically, I noticed that there are a lot of small firms with way too many last names strung together with commas.

Why is it that many small firms have such problems coming up with the perfect firm name? Let’s explore this age-old question….

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A few weeks ago, I was riding in a cab on the way to the airport. Right off the highway was a large sign for Le Massage Plac (the light for the “e” had died). I insisted that the cab driver make a pit stop. I needed to get le massage from Le Massage Plac[e], even if the dingy surroundings would give me le staph infection and require me to go le emergency room.

Yesterday I was walking through downtown Chicago and I was nearly run over by a food truck captioned The Meatyballs Mobile. I ran after the Meatyballs for several blocks. I just had to have a “Shweddy Balls” sub sandwich.

These experiences taught me firsthand the power of branding. What does this have to do with small law firms?

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Size Matters, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

They say that to be competitive in today’s market, branding is key. To do that, one needs a snappy marketing campaign. I mean, think about the marketing genius behind the Shake Weight, or that truly awesome FreeCreditReport.com song!

According to an article in the Martindale.com Blog entitled Small Law Firms Take the Lead in Marketing, small firms have, well, taken the lead in marketing. Martindale-Hubbell commissioned a survey to look into the issue of small-firm marketing and concluded that the smallest firms are increasing their spending on marketing, with a focus on internet advertising.

Given this premise, I decided to search the worldwide web for some of the best (or most entertaining) small-firm websites. I found one website that stuck out to me: the home page of a boutique law firm, Edelson McGuire. (ATL previously covered the firm when it gave out free iPads to all employees, both attorneys and staff.)

How do I love the Edelson McGuire site? Let me count the ways….

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Consider the evidence, from the website of Cravath. We’re guessing this change was made a while ago, perhaps when Cravath overhauled its home page last June, but we didn’t notice it until a Cravath alum pointed it out to us just now.

Let’s take a look….

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* It looks like Jonathan Lee Riches has some competition. Check out this crazy lawsuit filed against Apple (and many other defendants), by one David Louis Whitehead. Why do the wackos always have three names? [Apple Insider]

* Check out Professor Glenn Reynolds’s interesting argument against a federally-mandated drinking age of 21. “If you get shot at, you can have a shot.” [Wall Street Journal via Instapundit]

* The FTC is holding Google’s balls feet to the fire over its privacy practices. Want to turn up the heat a few degrees? [EPIC]

Do you heart boobies? I do -- for aesthetic reasons, and as symbols of female seductive power.

* Speaking of body parts, would this lawsuit have turned out differently if the bracelets, instead of promoting breast cancer awareness by declaring “I ♥ Boobies,” promoted testicular cancer awareness and read “I ♥ Balls”? [Philadelphia Inquirer via WSJ Law Blog]

* And speaking of free speech and schools, Congress should proceed with caution when passing anti-harassment legislation. [Chronicle of Higher Education]

* Biglaw partners team up with a former federal prosecutor to launch a new litigation boutique. Say hello to Levine Lee LLP. [Am Law Daily]

* But how does the bulldog feel about being used in an advertisement for a law firm? Cf. this controversy. [Ross Fishman's Law Marketing Blog]

Have you no sense of decency, sir? Have you left no sense of decency, Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern?

The law firm that “specializes” in World Trade Center aftermath issues has already drawn the ire of the judicial system. The firm represents workers injured in the WTC cleanup, and a federal judge previously benchslapped them for seeking excessive legal fees.

You’d think Worby Groner would try to keep a low profile after that. But the firm’s latest advertising campaign is just tasteless….

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By now, everyone has seen the Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial featuring Max Page as a pint-sized Darth Vader. You know, Max Page — the kid who plays Baby Reed on The Young and The Restless. You mean to tell me you don’t watch a little Y&R? Yeah, I don’t either, and I also hadn’t heard of him until the ad came out.

If you are one of the four people in the world who hasn’t seen this commercial yet, check it out here (first ad). The minute-long video features Page dressed in a Darth Vader costume trying (and failing) to use the Force on everything from his dog to the washing machine to his sandwich, with the Imperial March theme playing throughout in the background. When his father comes home in his shiny Volkswagen Passat, Page runs out not to greet him but to attempt to use the Force on the car. As he focuses all of his energy on it, the Passat suddenly starts.

The audience is quickly made aware that the car started not because of this little Vader’s supernatural abilities, but due to the father starting it remotely from the kitchen. Although Page is wearing a mask, you can imagine the look of surprise on his face as he turns in astonishment toward his parents. As I read online from one random commenter, the commercial managed to capture the spirit of Star Wars better than Lucas did in his last three prequels.

What many people don’t know is that Volkswagen used some of the Force itself with its social-media marketing — and that campaign may provide useful marketing lessons for attorneys. The company managed to not only create one of the most popular commercials during the Super Bowl, but also saved itself at least $3 million dollars in the process.

Is there any way lawyers could implement something similar?

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Have you ever really needed a Jewish attorney but just didn’t know where to find one? Well, have no fear, the Jewish American Bar Association is here. There’s an ad that’s been making its way around the blogosphere that can be seen at a bus stop in south Florida:

There’s just one little problem. The Jewish American Bar Association might not be exactly what you think it is….

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Jimmy Doan, mini Esq.

There are many, many personal injury firms in the world, and they often have to come up with gimmicks to set themselves apart. Those gimmicks have landed a fair number of them in our Adventures in Lawyer Advertising series.

A tipster recently sent along the website for The Doan Law Firm: The Ultimate Fighting Law Firm. It’s based in Houston and run by a Texas Wesleyan Law ’00 grad, Jimmy Doan.

Why don’t you click here and meet him? Make sure your speakers are on.

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