Lawyer Advertising

Man, it’s been so long since I actually had to read every comment in search of T-shirt worthy wit and humor that I almost forgot how much I hate some of you guys. I can’t wait till my vacation when I get a week away from you guys and I can just sit in bed and roll around in my “too Harvard degreez.”

Earlier this week, we asked you for possible captions for this photo:

One commenter already figured out my nefarious plan: “This is an April Fool’s trick to see how many of us know Justin Bieber songs…” But most of you fell for it….

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I bet he gets tons of clients.

Do you know anybody who has called a lawyer based on a subway ad?

Like, I know these clients must exist. There are too many lawyers who advertise on subways for the effort to be useless. So there must be people who read these signs and think, “I should take that number down.”

It’s a good thing for Above the Law. Subway lawyer ads make for great caption contests. Remember this one for something called the Beasley School of Law?

This next ad makes for a good caption contest and a good concert promotion….

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One of the good moments in the practice is when you see the result of a networking event, online introduction, “hit” on that marketing blog that you’ve never written a post on, or God forbid, a happy former client.

The result being a referral.

A real referral. A real case, a paying client who wants to meet with you “as soon as possible.” This person calls and says they got your name from someone you know. They read your canned post on the latest fatal accident, they think your automated Twitter feed with links to your website is awesome, or they heard you did a great job for their good friend and now they need you (but I hear that never happens anymore and that lawyers that rely on doing a good job and getting referrals as a result of that are part of the past and are going to go out of business very, very, very soon).

So this is all very nice. It shows that something you are doing is working. It may for a while take your mind off suing your law school for lying about getting you a job.

But then there’s the call that goes something like this….

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Many lawyers keep blogs on the side. Most talk about amusing happenings in the legal community. But a few like to use the blog as a forum to describe their own legal careers.

But blogs like this raise numerous questions, such as, “Does the blog constitute an advertisement?,” and, “Does the blog violate client confidentiality?” and, “Why doesn’t the blog have more LOLcats?”

Now the Virginia Supreme Court has issued a ruling that settles some of these questions and opens the door for more lawyers to join the blogging community, at least in Virginia. And there’s a decent chance the U.S. Supreme Court will look at this case too….

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* Legal advertising meets Godwin’s Law. [Lowering the Bar]

* Carla Spivack of Oklahoma City University’s law school suggests rethinking the logic of statutes that prevent a killer from inheriting from their victims. Spivak argues that most of such killings involve escaping abusive situations and not a “child who kills a grandparent to hasten an inheritance.” Um, Spivak hasn’t watched enough Murder, She Wrote. [The Faculty Lounge]

* “Would It Be Okay To Perform Surgery On Crack?” I’m not sure, but I’m a sporting fellow! Fetch me a scalpel and your finest rock! [Legal Juice]

* Dunkin’ Donut’s employee used hot coffee to spoil a robbery while yelling “go run on Dunkin.'” Moral of the story: Next time rob Winchell’s. [NBC New York]

* Bear Lawyer grapples with sequestration. I’m fairly certain the chalkboard behind him is a direct reproduction of a notepad Paul Ryan used. [Bear Lawyer, LLC]

* Subway founder says regulations would prevent him from building his business today. “I had an easy time of it in the ’60s when I started.” Yes, it’s harder to cut costs with horse meat today, but you can still dare to dream. [Overlawyered]

* Mila Kunis is the greatest interview ever, turning the whole thing around on a nervous interviewer. There are a couple important lessons here for litigators: (1) don’t get too stuck to your script; and, (2) if you’re going to let the witness take over the examination, just hope they’re trying to help you. Video after the jump. [YouTube via BBC Radio 1]

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If you have a mediocre law firm, here’s a new trick — just buy the ad-search rights to the names of better law firms. Every time someone searches for the better firm, a nice big ad for your firm will pop up.

Does that sound dirty? It kind of seems like cashing in on the good will of another firm. Not to mention the personal identities of the lawyers at the better firm.

So, yeah, it sounds dirty and not possibly legal.

Well, a state appeals court decided it was totally legal….

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Yesterday, Brian Tannebaum wrote about many of the law firm web site marketeers that write dreck for their clients.

The marketeers put this stuff online for the lawyers and call it content. Those with even minimal composition skills use far less charitable words to describe it.

As an example, he writes about the self-linking that takes place in pseudo-blogs and the embarrassing effect it actually has on the lawyer being promoted. He uses the example below — a monstrous keyword smorgasbord you may have stumbled across in the past, and were dumber for having done so….

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This is a post about the internet, and yes, it’s about small law firms.

You’re still in the race to page one of Google. Nothing is more important. It’s tiring. Your marketeer tells you that blogging is king. You don’t have time to blog, you need clients now — you aren’t interested in waiting for some client to think you had something interesting to say in your blog, and in turn, call your office, or some lawyer to read what you wrote and refer you a case.

Not a problem, says the marketeer. It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as your website is linked throughout the posts, like this:

Recently, this Craptown family lawyer read about a father being held in contempt for failing to pay child support. This case was not in Craptown and did not involve a Craptown family lawyer. As a Craptown family lawyer, it is important that anyone in Craptown who has a problem with Craptown family law call a Craptown family lawyer. It is unclear whether the father sought the services of a Craptown family lawyer, but contempt is a bad thing and is a reason to seek out a Craptown family lawyer. So for those of you fathers that are broke, it may be time to call a Craptown family lawyer.

These blogs all suck, say nothing, and exist only based on the marketeer’s promise of clients finding you via Google and dropping off a pile of cash at your office. The authors are very very very proud of their prose, as the marketeers cheer on their attempts to game Google. “Hey man, that last post was great, you had 27 links to your website.”

Obviously, this doesn’t apply to the vast amounts of Biglaw associates who read every single word of this column under duress every single week while waiting for their next assignment, but for those small firm and solo practitioners, I have a question: Does it work?

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There’s no lack of advice these days about what lawyers should be doing to get clients or run their practices. And you take it. You take the advice of the former lawyers with no clients or practices, or the perennial failures who understand that lawyers are gullible when it comes to advice about making money. But still, you take it, or God forbid, pay for it.

So you create a Facebook Fan Page for your law firm and ask everyone to “like” your page. You go on LinkedIn and join groups. You go on Avvo.com and ask lawyers to endorse you. Your website is “awesome” and you’ve got an e-mail newsletter campaign going. Offline, you do the Bar association networking circuit. You’ve met some people for lunch, and you even had an article published. By the way, you’re also a good lawyer and have some happy clients.

But the phone isn’t ringing, or isn’t ringing enough. You get to the point of frustration, and start thinking of discontinuing part of your marketing, or worse, closing your practice.

Let’s be honest, some of you won’t make it. You’re decent lawyers but have no business sense. Some lawyers need to work for someone else. That’s why we have Biglaw, so really smart people with no ability to make a buck on their own can pretend they are superior.

Let’s say though that quitting is not an option, but neither is continuing on this path. You’re just trying to figure out which of the half-dozen things you’re doing is worth continuing, and what else you need to do.

So I’ll take a stab at it. My apologies for being a lawyer with clients and a practice, as I know I’m not the typical guru selling you on the dream….

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I went to vote Saturday at 7:20 a.m. I left with my “I voted” sticker at 12:39 p.m. When you stand in line for five hours, even a person like me has to pass the time by speaking to someone. After skimming through the morning paper and making a futile attempt to find something interesting on Twitter or Facebook, Jeff asked me a simple question: “What do you do?”

In the backdrop was typical polling place activity. There were signs everywhere. Many candidates had a half-dozen signs in a row at the entrance to the polling place. Apparently one sign isn’t enough anymore. The candidates were in all smiles, “asking” for votes, while the candidates’ shills designees were begging for votes by lying to everyone about everything saying they were a “mom,” or “not a politician.” People who didn’t even know the candidate were wearing their t-shirts and shoving palm cards in voters hands, and a long line of voters — some knowledgeable about the issues, and others not having a clue — were just waiting make their decision official.

It was like the internet, live.

On one side, there were people looking to make a decision, on the other, a bunch of people wanting to be “hired.” The one common thread was that the candidates wanted to make sure each person in line knew they, and their campaign, were there. The difference was how they did it….

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