Friday, April 30, 2010

"I Found You On The Internet"

When I graduated law school, the most important goal was getting a job, learning how to practice law, and to those that wanted to, developing a reputation that would attract clients. Sure, some went right from graduation to the yellow pages, but that was rare. Very rare.

Today, the chronology is graduation, creation of website, creation of facebook fan page, twitter account, and all in the name of an online reputation. An offline reputation is secondary. No one's really checking anyway. It's all about the fee. It's all about the ultimate "how much do you charge" question.

The internet is an amazing tool. You can be the best attorney in the world on the internet, even if you've only been practicing a few months. Any good internet consultant will tell you to leave off your date of graduation if you're a bit green, as those that look for attorneys on the internet aren't really looking for a great lawyer, they are just looking for a great price.

Aren't we all? Don't we always turn to the internet to find the best deal?

It's no different when searching for a lawyer.

I get emails all the time from internet experts telling me they can help me with my website ranking, that I'm "miss out" on clients. Apparently, when someone is looking for a lawyer that does what I do, I am not first, and because I am not first, I am nowhere.

Therein lies the issue. The assumption that every lawyer wants that call. The call that comes from the potential client that isn't asking around for referrals, isn't really interested in credentials that are verified by others, but looking for the language on the internet that makes them feel good.

I get those calls. I get those e-mails.

"I found you on the internet."

Has anyone who "found me on the internet," hired me? Sure. Is it the norm? No.

Now someone out there is reading this and saying "of course, you don't get it. If you were first, or close to first, you would get more calls, and more clients."

More calls? Yes. More clients, no.

Because I don't compete on price. I compete on quality and service.

I remember a plumber once telling me "quality, price, and service. I offer two, pick the two you want."

Being first on the internet of course attracts calls and emails.

But I'm not looking for calls and e-mails.

I'm looking for clients that are looking fcr a particular lawyer.

Those clients normally don't find me on the internet.

You can have the others.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.Share/Save/Bookmark


Craig Parker said...

I talked with a contractor who had a similar view. "I can build a house good, fast, and cheap. You pick two."

I like that attitude. :)

Tina Gadson said...

That's right, Brian. Keep repeating that, and maybe you'll actually begin to believe it yourself. Actually, I have no doubt that you believe it. I do too. It makes a lot of sense. But your insistence on making this same point over and over again suggests to this amateur psychologist that there is something about this that really gets under your skin. You put on this great pose of absolute confidence that you are doing the right thing. But you are clearly losing clients to lawyers who are less qualified in your view. And that really gets to you doesn't it? And it makes you feel better to keep repeating that it is the clients themselves who are suffering because they have hired another attorney who is not you.

To save you the trouble, let me get this out of the way for you. No, I don't need to read this blog. And yes, I am a loser and a whiner and (what was it you said last time?) I am acting like a 7-year-old. Right. That was the extent of your argument the last time I posted. And you can keep repeating that to yourself as well: It's not you that engages in the name-calling and acts like a 7-year-old.

Cheers, Brian! And keep posting!

Brian Tannebaum said...

Tina, you can't lose clients that never would of hired hou in the first place I realize you're too hysterical to understand that. Its nice to see you back here. I won't stop you from embarrassing yourself. Enjoy.

Christopher G. Hill said...

Four (oops 6, darned lawyer math!) words I generally don't like to hear. I don't mind so much after talking to a potential client for a while, then getting this response when I ask how the potential client got my name. SEO notwithstanding, if a client says "your blog" I feel better than if the client says "your firm website"

Mark F said...

I certainly believe that the web/social media are going to be increasingly important to clients and lawyers finding each other.

Before everyone went crazy for the net it was about hocking everything you had to get the most yellow page space you could possibly afford.

Outside of the mills, relationship and reputation were still the route to making a good living.

Today social media provides an additional avenue for developing relationships and reputation but real world is going to matter more.

A smart client is going to take their working list of possible lawyers and search those names, not for Facebook page or a nifty marketing web site but to see what cases you've tried, what you are saying to others and what others are saying about you.

For the most part the consultants are worthless.

Dave! said...

Personally, I like Paul Rand's approach:

I asked him if he would come up with a few options. And he said, “No. I will solve your problem for you. And you will pay me. And you don’t have to use the solution. If you want options, go talk to other people. But I’ll solve your problem for you the best way I know how. And you use it or not. That’s up to you. You’re the client. But you pay me.” And there was a clarity about the relationship that was refreshing.

Steve Jobs on working with designer Paul Rand on the NeXT logo

Alexis Martin Neely said...


You are right increasing your rankings in google alone are not going to get you more of the right clients. But, a coordinated online/offline marketing strategy definitely will because your clients will be coming to you educated and informed.


Brian Tannebaum said...

Too many lawyers today have an online strategy, and are empty suits. There's too many people training lawyers that an online strategy is more important than an offline strategy. Lawyers with an offline strategy are called good lawyers with the ability to bring in business. Online, the truth is irrelevant.