Lawyer Advertising

In the crazy world of cyberspace, personal injury lawyers are a dime a dozen. By now, we’ve gotten used to their crazy antics and low-budget commercials.

But not all personal injury firms are created equal. For the Law Firm of Gary, Williams, Lewis, and Watson, P.I., “low-budget” is a concept that just doesn’t exist. To the contrary, the firm wants to make it clear just how baller the life of a private injury attorney can be.

Dubbing himself “The Giant Killer,” the firm’s larger-than-life head partner, Willie E. Gary, never misses an opportunity to make his wealth and success known. Touting hundred-million-dollar verdicts and rubbing elbows with celebrities, Gary is on a one-man mission to prove that chasing ambulances is much easier when you’re driving a Bentley….

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For years, personal injury law advertising and violent imagery have gone hand in hand. Only in this field would we get a video of an unhinged attorney smashing a pickup truck into a parked car and call it an advertisement. The more they can yell or blow things up, it seems, the better.

Keeping with the tradition of aggression, we have not one, not two, but three different personal injury lawyers who have branded themselves “The Hammer.” But in the dog-eat-dog world of personal injury law, there can only be room for one Hammer. So who should win the rights to the title?

Should it be Lowell “The Hammer” Stanley from Virginia, who compares personal injury law to making sausage? Or Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro, the personal injury attorney possibly from New York (or Canada or Florida), who claims he loves to play rough? Or our entry from down South, Jim “The Texas Hammer” Adler, who is supposedly meaner than a junkyard dog?

Which Hammer should reign supreme? Let’s review the evidence….

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Tom Wallerstein

When lawyers form a new firm, one of their first, most important projects is usually designing their website. This makes sense because the website is often the first thing that a prospective client or referral source will see. Its importance cannot be overstated.

The process of designing a website (or printed marketing material) is considerably different for a new enterprise than it is for an established one. For an established firm, the process involves trying to portray to the outside world the essence of what the firm is and emphasize what distinguishes it from its competition.

For a new firm, however, the process is very different because you must first conceptualize what you want to be before you decide how you want to present yourself to the outside world. In this way, the website of a new firm is more aspirational than it is descriptive. For example, when a new firm proclaims that it handles practice areas A, B, and C, it often means that it intends to handle those practice areas.

This dynamic plays itself out in virtually everything a new business does. When it chooses a logo, or color scheme, or even its name, it engages in a process of self-conceptualization, imagining what it wants to be. I think that’s one reason why new businesses spend so much time, and so enjoy, focusing on relatively simple things like deciding on a logo. It’s fun to imagine your potential….

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We have covered Texas attorney Adam Reposa several times over the years here at Above the Law. He’s a quixotic fellow, yelling insanely in his commercials while smashing a large pickup truck into a smaller car, labelling himself as bulletproof, and facing unusual contempt charges.

We’ve never successfully spoken with Reposa directly, but a recent interview with one of his closest frenemies, who happened to direct the famous “I’M A LAWYER!” ad, gives some cool insight into the non-traditional attorney’s persona.

In the brash, entertaining interview, Bob Ray gives real talk on Adam Reposa and explains the history of that poor pickup truck (can you say alternative fee arrangements?)….

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Last week, when I needed a break from educating myself about the differences between legitimate and illegitimate rape, I decided to turn my attention back to the question that consumes the mind of all single women over the age of 25 as cobwebs grow in our wombs: Why can’t I find a nice, professional man to take care of me?

Maybe it’s my long hair? Oh, right, that’s what’s killing my career, not rendering me a spinster. There are just so many pitfalls to being a female, it’s hard to keep track sometimes.

But then I saw him. A beacon of light in today’s sea of unmanly men. Richard Schulte, from Ohio. But let’s call him Rick. Rick is a much more virile name.

His profile is so dripping with testosterone, I just have to go talk to him.

So, Rick, you’re a lawyer? Wow. Isn’t that, like, really scary and intimidating?

Rick Schulte isn’t afraid to go to trial, not a bit. Most attorneys are or at the very least, they’re apprehensive. Big difference.

Oh, we’re talking in the third person now? That’s hot. Natasha likes men who speak in the third person and aren’t afraid.

Please, tell me more….

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Back in the day, Ted Kennedy could cheat his ass off.

* ‘Unprecedented’ cheating at Harvard. Nice to know that Ted Kennedy’s spirit is alive and well in Cambridge. [Harvard Crimson]

* Court accidentally posts secret settlement. That’ll teach these courts from keeping secrets. [Boston Globe]

* Here is an appropriate response to a law firm brochure. [Lawprofblawg]

* Former News of the World lawyer arrested. You know, the problem with the News of the World scandal is that it’s one of those things that happens somewhere else and so Americans don’t care. Americans like me. [Wall Street Journal]

* Cincinnati law profs pass around the collection plate and come up with a scholarship for students. [Tax Prof Blawg]

* Citibank settled with its shareholders for being buying bad assets. In other news, Citibank bought a lot of bad assets. [Dealbreaker]

Nepotism and small-town law practice have gone hand in hand since the invention of the shingle. Our country’s fine judicial system is littered with dynamic duos of father and son lawyers, fighting injustice one personal injury at a time.

One firm out in Ohio, however, has taken the family business concept to a whole new level. Meet Murray & Murray Co., L.P.A., where nine — count ‘em, nine — members of the Murray family are partners… in a 14-lawyer firm.

Sandusky, Ohio, known for little more than being the home of Cedar Point and sharing a name with the most prominent pedophile in the last decade, is the home turf of the Murray clan. Together, the family handles an array of personal injury matters, from auto and truck accidents to fatal auto and truck accidents.

But just what fate lies in wait for non-Murrays who dare to join the firm?

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One of the country’s best law firms no longer has one of the Internet’s worst law firm websites.

As you may recall, four years ago, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz was ranked by the American Lawyer as having one of the industry’s worst websites. According to the article, Wachtell’s website was “reminiscent of a seventh-grade history project.”

Having seen endless examples of terrible law firm websites, I’m not sure it was fair to call Wachtell’s old site one of the worst. There is no disputing, however, that it was crushingly boring.

The analogy to a middle school project was sound. The old site’s idea of spicing things up was to put its extra special passages in italics or bold — or, if they were feeling particularly crazy, italics and bold.

It seems that Wachtell has finally grasped the notion that websites should be attention-grabbing. Or at least marginally attractive.

Check out Wachtell’s transition into the modern Internet era….

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I’m one of those lawyers that goes on vacation. Not just long weekends, real vacations. I pity those of you that pride yourselves in announcing, “I don’t take vacations.” Good for you, you pathetic drone. I didn’t take vacations at first, as I was always fearful that someone would call to hire me on a non-emergency basis and wouldn’t wait until I came back. Now I don’t care. If you can’t wait until I come back, there are plenty of lawyers on the internet to hire that can take your PayPal payment online and send you whatever documents you think you need to handle your case.

When was I able to take my first two-week vacation and not worry about business? After 14 years in private practice. I say that because I know how patient all of you are out there.

First, let me congratulate the commentariat, who I found in San Francisco had turned their child-like recurring comments into a t-shirt business. See, there’s all kinds of ways to make money as an unemployed lawyer, not to worry. (For those of you that tell me you don’t read the comments, it’s okay, just look at the picture and imagine those phrases being said over and over again, anonymously.)

Anyway, when I’m on vacation, I think about my business. I think about what I love, what I hate, and what I want to change. There is nothing like thinking about your business (not the cases or the clients) while you are away from the phone calls (if your phone is ringing), other interruptions, the deadlines, and all the trappings of a lawyer’s day. (That was tip number one of today’s column for those of you shallow folks that can’t comprehend messages that aren’t in your face with drawings.)

One of the things I do a lot while I’m away is watch other businesses. I try to figure out how they make their money, why their employees are happy, or unhappy, why their customers patronize the store, restaurant, tour company, and how they handle problems. You’re an idiot if you are trying to build your law practice solely by watching how other lawyers run their practices. Client dynamics can be found in many places, and ideas come from everywhere. Most lawyers are doing it wrong anyway. (Enter tip number two — see how that works?)

Here’s what I saw over two weeks in California….

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Ed. note: Please welcome Eric Turkewitz, a new small law firm columnist at Above the Law. His bio appears after the jump.

For the new ATL readers, let me introduce myself here in my first column. OK, screw that, I know you don’t really give a damn about me, so let’s jump to the meat and potatoes…

You all know that Dewey & LeBoeuf, filing for bankruptcy liquidation yesterday, is the largest law firm ever to go bust. And that means a ton of people are now out of work, either scrambling to hitch their wagons to new firms or looking to start their own practices.

Because having your own firm is, to many, the Holy Grail of a law practice. Sure, some like the consistent fat paycheck, but the ranks of lawyers are filled with Type-A personalities who fantasize about practicing law the way they want to do it, not the way some other Type-A knucklehead has been telling them to do it.

There are only about a gazillion things to think about: office space, support staff, technology, and money to keep you going, to name a few. But today’s topic will be self-promotion and social media. And I don’t mean this in a good way, as in here’s how to go out and be famous on Twitter. No, no, a thousand times no. Instead I’d like to warn you about them, and help you save your soul.

You’re welcome. Pull up a chair, and let’s review some of the more dreadful attorney marketing over the years. We’ll start in the toilet….

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