Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Another Chapter Closes On Another Lawyer Marketer

As I expected, my lawyer marketer of the week has ceased all communication with me. He's deleted my last comment on his blog, he's put his head in the sand and waited for me to just move on. That's what his lawyer marketer friends tell him to do. "Don't respond," "don't engage." This is the theme of the former-lawyer-now-lawyer-marketer world - just talk in a vacuum and pretend there is nothing but love for you out there.

He even followed up with a defensive post making clear he loves his competition.

He won't respond to how he is the go to lawyer marketer when he claims to have had a successful practice for less than 2 years, at the most.

It's ok, we get the point.

It's the internet, and you can be anything you want to be. Just keep typing.

Until the next one darkens my door.....

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

Monday, July 26, 2010

Shooting Fish: Another Former Lawyer Lawyer Marketer

Yesterday more "hits" came to this blog than any other Sunday since it started. Sunday isn't a big day for blog reading, but yesterday the readers here more than quadrupled.

No shock there, as the topic was something related to lawyer marketing.

It wasn't about the most popular Google search that fills the list of who comes here: How to make money as a lawyer, it was about the ethics of a lawyer marketer.

I wrote below about a lawyer marketer who claimed not to bad mouth lawyer marketers in his quest to be hired by those who want to "double their income." You can get the rest of the details below.

What happened after the posting was a typical and total meltdown. See, lawyer marketers who never had a long-term successful practice, don't like to argue or debate - it disturbs their message. It rattles the thin cage, a thin cage on a weak foundation.

Lawyers are no different than clients, they want to hear what they want to hear. If there's someone out there telling them they can double their income, then by default, they are of interest. No details required.

In defending his non-existent commitment to not bad mouthing the competition, he lashed out at me, and told me I didn't know what I was talking about.

And here's the kicker.


He sent an email to the lawyer marketer he assumed I was talking about. He didn't send an email to 2 or 3 lawyer marketers, just one. It was a blathering rant, copied to me, about how he didn't bad mouth him and "let's have dinner again soon." It was nothing short of an attempt to make me think he and the recipient were "close buds," and an admission. It was sad, and pathetic, and typical. If he didn't bad mouth this guy, why the multi paragraph email? Why even send him an email? He didn't bad mouth anyone, right?

Failed lawyers who are looking for lawyer dollars are doing so because they aren't lawyers anymore - because they can't argue a relevant point, because the debate is beyond them. This was proven again yesterday.

Successful lawyers don't quit to become lawyer marketers, so why are you hiring them? Why? And if you are going to hire them, why aren't you asking more questions? If they say they made millions in private practice, why aren't you asking for tax returns? They brought it up - why not kick the tires? Are you so starry eyed that the issue is less important than your hopes and dreams of making money?

This lawyer marketer claims to have passed the Florida Bar in 1998, failed in private practice, then become successful, and then closed up said successful law practice to go work for The Florida Bar in the law practice management department.

Let's review:

Passed the Bar - 1998
Failed, immediately.
Became successful and profitable - after that.
Closed up shop and went to work for the Bar..... I don't know, but I do know they gave him an award in 2000.

So the longest period of time he was in successful private practice?

2000 minus 1998 minus failure period - ???????

And then another kicker.

No, really, there's another one.

On this lawyer marketer's blog, he names a disbarred lawyer who he "compliments" occasionally. The lawyer was disbarred for various trust account violations, including stealing money from a trust fund for children. When this disbarred lawyer ventured into the lawyer marketing world, he lied about why he left the law. He said it was because he loved blogging so so so very very very much. It wasn't true, but few cared. Those that did, were "mean."

What's interesting about that, is that this lawyer marketer is on a big campaign to give away trust account advice. He refers to this disbarred trust account thief as having "made mistakes."

No, as I tell my clients, taking money from a trust account is not a "mistake." It's theft, it's a crime, and it's a recipe for a quick disbarment.

This lawyer marketer responded by using the lawyer marketer script and calling me a "bully" for posting a comment to his blog about it. If lawyer marketers didn't have the word "bully," they'd have nothing to say.

He eventually asked me to stop posting comments to his blog - obviously the desperate lawyer looking for a quick fix to a failing practice is not going to like reading our back and forth. It's very anti-marketing.

Former lawyers turned lawyer marketers don't like to discuss the truth. It gets through the smoke and mirrors too easily.

And lawyers looking to make money, and the marketers looking to make money off of them, like a lot of smoke, and a lot of mirrors.

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

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Lawyer Marketer Ethic: Don't Bad Mouth, Let Me Do That - UPDATED

Got a call yesterday from one of the few (the only) lawyer marketer I respect. I've said before that failed or former lawyers are the worst people to talk to or pay for marketing services. The guy I respect is a marketer. Period. Not a former lawyer who claims to have the secrets of private practice, when they never had a successful private practice. On the internet, anyone can have a successful law practice, just start typing.

My friend has taken his expertise to lawyers, and he's excellent. I don't use his services, but know plenty of lawyers who do. That lawyers would even talk to a marketer who claims they were successful as a lawyer and are now making a living not practicing, but teaching you to "double your income," is a sad commentary on the desperation of our profession.

The guy I know, asked me if I knew fellow Miami resident Rjon Robins. I said I knew of him, but I never spoke to him, nor heard a single lawyer ever mention his name. And just to be clear, after 13 years in private practice, a lot of marketer's names come across my desk from young lawyers seeking advice.

Then came the shocker: "He badmouthed me."

Well I literally fell out of my chair. No, actually I didn't. Lawyer marketers want one thing, you, as a lawyer, to pay them money based on the promise that they are the secret to your pathetic and failing practice.

They're not, but that's besides the point.

Let's talk about badmouthing.

It's like negative campaigning, it works, for the most part.

There is a small group of clients who will say "I didn't like him because he badmouthed his competition." These are the same type of clients who "would never hire a lawyer who sent a solicitation in the mail. These are the few, the educated, the principled clients who are truly looking for a professional.

For most people, hearing that "I wouldn't hire him," or "I've never heard of him," (the best type of badmouthing), strikes fear, and fear, works.

So last night I was looking around twitter, and like finding cheerleaders holding pom poms, found the following typical ass kissing tweet from lawyer marketer to lawyer marketer:

@AlexisNeely <-- Someone who is NOT full of bullshit! Here's what I mean: (via @rjonrobins) lol, thanks RJon. :)

I love reading the communications between lawyer marketers, the rah rah rah that is their world, the "oh, you're so supery dupery wonderful," syrupy stuff. They're great because they tell each other how great they are.

Here's what Alexis is talking about.

Rjon wanted everyone to know he thinks Alexis is pretty cool. So he takes the marketing tact, and starts off talking about himself:

So I have to say, there are ALOT of people going around talking alot of bullshit about what they "think" would, could or should work when it comes to marketing & managing a solo or small law firm. And I'm talking about REALLY marketing & managing it. As in doubling your revenues and totally transforming your business and your life. (Did you read "double your revenues?" Mastercard and Visa accepted).

And for the most part, I keep my mouth shut. (For the most part. Keep reading)

Just the other day for example I spoke with a lawyer at-length, who wanted to get into one of my programs. But he was also considering another option with someone else who will remain nameless. Because I have learned that the best way for that lawyer to learn the difference between working with someone who knows what they're talking about with legitimately 15,000 hours + real world experience vs. a johnny-come-lately import from an entirely different industry is to just keep my mouth shut.

Then, the hypocritical lesson:

Seriously, you should NEVER badmouth another lawyer. Just like I'm not badmouthing anyone here.

Just like I'm not badmouthing anyone here.

He's badmouthing the guy I know. He knows it, my friend knows it, and most importantly, I know it.

By the way, the reason he thinks Alexis is so great?

SO IT GIVES ME GREAT PLEASURE TO THANK ALEXIS for sending this email to all the thousands of lawyers she knows to help them by sharing my FREE video training series "A Simple System For Managing A Law Firm Client Property Trust Account That WON'T Make You Feel Like A Schmuck."

Yeah, she sent an email about him and his business. Yipee! Quick, someone send an email about me!

I commented on the post last night, I told Alexis on twitter her "thank you" to Rjon should have been rather a condemnation of his hypocrisy, but no response.

Lawyer marketers hate me. I ruin their twitterstreams, their internet "graduation pictures." Alexis just keeps tweeting as if I never said anything, and there are no further comments on the post. This is their tact - "ignore him, he's mean, he doesn't buy into our 'product.'" "He'll go away, and then we can continue pumping each other...."

No, I won't. Either will any of you.

UPDATE: Robins claims he thinks he knows who I'm talking about,'s not that person.

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

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Don't Text Me, Bro*

As we continue to ask like a deer in the headlights why the reputation of lawyers continues to fall like a rock, all the time thinking it is solely based on "other lawyers," here comes the story of two parties that while naturally about as adversary
as any two sides, are notoriously known to be civil, cordial, and professional.

That's the text transcript of a Broward County, Forida criminal defense lawyer (public defender) and prosecutor. H/T JAABlog.

Now unless there's some unseemly allegation that the criminal defense lawyer stole the prosecutor's cell phone, it's pretty clear that the number was freely given out in discovery.

But this prosecutor has rules. Take the cell number, but just don't use it to text messages about cases. Perhaps some inappropriate jokes or "LOL my BFF" is preferred.

Yeah, this is a silly little thing, and the prosecutor looks like a hysterical over reactive jerk. No ethical violation, no formal violation of any policy.

But now this prosecutor is the laughing stock of the courthouse. Nothing wrong with the "who is this" that we all do when a text comes in from an unknown number, but once verified - that this was from a public defender in the prosecutor's courtroom - the response should have been "call me at the office."

Last year there was a story about a lawyer who refused to communicate by email. She would send her opposing counsel her policy, and refuse to respond to any emails. I said then that any lawyer who tells me they don't communicate by email will be advised that I do not communicate by phone, fax, or U.S. Mail, so carrier pigeon may be the way to go.

I text prosecutors all the time. "I'm running late for court, ask the judge to pass our case." "The witness called, he'll be 10 minutes late for the depo." I never use it to discuss important matters. It's not enough space, and I can't keep copies.

But this conversation above was of no moment. Just a lawyer commenting on a resolved case. If the prosecutor didn't want to be contacted by text, there was a better way to respond, not like a stalked victim of some enraged nut job.

* For those who didn't get the title of this post.

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

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blogging The Florida Board of Bar Examiners Hearings

Had a bit of a vacation this month. No, not from the Board of Bar Examiner's Hearings, but from having to travel to them. Every once in a while the Board gets it right and comes to Miami. No packing, getting on a plane, or driving for hours. No crappy hotel food, no overpriced bottled water. Just a quick 15 minute drive.

This time, I saw a crack in the mold. No, the hearing didn't start on time. Not even close (2 hours late), but it was a hearing on the merits. It was a hearing focused on the issues at hand, not on whether my client could play word games with the panelists.

Let me elaborate.

My client not only failed to disclose some things, he was less than completely candid about them on other applications. The panelists knew why, and they focused on why. They focused on why because my client didn't focus on whether he failed to disclose or was less than completely candid. The Board knew he did, and he was, and he admitted as such. The panelists decided not to spend an hour debating this, they wanted to discuss why. "Why" was the important issue, and that was the focus of the hearing.

The panelists could have spent a great deal of time asking about minor things, like the understanding of vague terms on applications, the timing of certain amendments, but they didn't. They focused on the important facts.

This doesn't always happen. Clients love to say no to the question of an arrest when they were merely given a promise to appear (legally an arrest, but no trip to the pokey), and the Board knows why. Sometimes we go round and round on this. It's important if the client was trying to hide it. It's not important if the client just didn't get it.

There was also little interruption at this hearing. Sometimes, I wonder if the panel wants an answer, or just wants to ask questions and look for that one word they don't like. These are applicants to the Bar, they want to be lawyers, they (most of them) are not yet versed in answering questions like a seasoned witness under cross examination. If they come to the hearing and decide this is the time to jerk around the members of the Board, then they deserve to be treated with little respect, but those that are clearly trying to be open and honest about their past transgressions, should be treated as such. I am seeing a more polite and professional hearing setting over the past few months, and I don't think it takes anything away from the process. Nothing wrong with getting in the face of an applicant, as long as it's for the right reasons.

Some thoughts:

1. Please stay in the hotel where the hearing is taking place. Please. I know it's not cheap, but this "staying at a friend's house" doesn't seem to work. The stress level is much lower when you are a couple floors from the hearing, instead of across town.

2. Stop asking me if you can bring your file. Yes, this is not a memorization test.

3. The Board knows your life story - that's why you are sitting in front of them. Answer the questions. Every answer doesn't begin with what happened that day from the time you woke up.

There are no hearings in August, so congratulations, no one gets denied admission in August.

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

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Best Marketing Tool For Lawyers

The other day I was talking to a lawyer marketing guy. He sells blogs. He told me he gets calls from new bloggers: "I've been blogging for 3 months and I don't have a single new client from the blog." His response: "get out and meet some people."

I scan the internet and see lawyers typing "how to get rich as a lawyer" on the hour on Google.

I see former lawyers parading as coaches - their practices having failed, they're ready to tell you how to be successful. Some of them practiced for a fleeting moment, and were never hired by a client. I see former lawyers trying to claim star status trying to convince you that Apple's newest device is the key to your future.

Here, today, for free, I give you the best marketing tool for lawyers.

Here it is.


The lawyer. You, the lawyer, and other lawyers.

So while you're typing your brains out, and buying every new gadget that the online world cheers about, answer these questions. When you are done, you can let me know that I am wrong, that it is really all about blogs and toys, or start thinking about getting the hell away from technology for a while and trying a little human interaction for a bit.

1. How many lawyers do you know?

2. When is the last time you had a conversation with a lawyer about your practice?

3. When is the last time another lawyer referred you a client?

4. At what point did you start to think that typing blog posts and playing with the
iPad was the answer to building your practice?

5. When is the last time you sponsored an event?

6. When is the last time you went to an event?

7. When is the last time you spoke to a group of lawyers? Real lawyers, discussing real things - like law, not battery life and phone reception?

8. Under what theory did you think you would get great clients, with good cases by writing blog posts? (Hint: Clients hire lawyers, not blog posts).

9. Who are you and what relevance do you have in your legal community? Are you known for something important that a client would need, or do you just know how to scan a document in a parking lot of a Starbucks?

10. Who was it that convinced you that all it takes is a computer and some SEO work, and what relevance does that person have in the legal community?

11. When did you take yourself out of the mix?

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

Monday, July 5, 2010

Asking Why?

Two years ago, a lifetime in the legal economy, Professor Bainbridge asked if the law was a "mature" industry:

If law in fact is a mature industry, we face a problem of systemic oversupply. The rate at which demand for new lawyers grows has permanently leveled off. Economic recovery will help, but it will not change the fundamental structural changes in the market for lawyers.

The Prof believes "we have been growing the number of law schools as though the demand for lawyers would permanently continue to experience exponential growth..." He thinks we should close the bottom third. Of course that will never happen - law schools are money makers. The fact that all law schools today are facing their own jobless graduates is of no moment.

When I began law school in Florida 18 years ago, there were 6 law schools. Now there are eleven. That's a new law school in one state in about every 3 1/2 years.

But say there are too many lawyers and you'll get two answers - "there's always room for good new lawyers," and "of course you'll say that now that you're a lawyer."

There are too many lawyers. More importantly, there are too many new lawyers and law students that have no idea why they went to law school. It wasn't to become an advocate, per se, it was to get a good paying job.

Society is much to blame. The reason a high school diploma today is worthless is because we now encourage everyone to go to college. I know some plumbers and electricians that do pretty well financially, but we no longer encourage high school students to learn trades. A sociology degree that leads to nothing is more important. Now that we encourage everyone to go to college, a college degree is worthless. Used to be an MBA was impressive - that was until everyone was getting an MBA on the weekends.

Now it's law.

More lawyers don't create more cases - and don't talk to me about the "frivolous" law suits - those are just cases with which you don't agree. More family lawyers don't create more divorce. More criminal lawyers don't create more arrests. More lawyers just create competition between more lawyers. We eat our own. Competition just makes legal services cheaper (which is not necessarily the same as "affordable.") Nothing wrong with cheap quality, as long as both exist, and they rarely do. You normally get one or the other - cheap, or quality. Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes.

In today's economy, getting lucky with legal services is often all that matters. A client buys a will on-line and hopes it works. Of course they'll only know if there is a message left for them at the pearly gates. In my world, there's some new kids on the block charging 20% of what I charge. Are they good, quality, experienced lawyers? Does it matter? Yes, to some it matters. To most, it doesn't. People will always say that if they needed a lawyer, they would seek out the best and find a way to hire that lawyer. Those are people who are not typically clients. Remember, most people never need a lawyer, and if they do, it's usually for a transaction like a house sale, will, or divorce. Most people have a number in mind, and whichever lawyer they meet, or talk to, or email with, that says that number, is hired.

As the economy worsens, and yes, it's worsening, struggling lawyers will have to make a choice - lower your fees to the point where the increase in clients is borderline unmanagable, take on matters for which you have no experience, or get out and find another way to make money. Hopefully by now most graduates are over the theory that going into massive debt in law school entitled them to a six-figure job. It ain't happening. Not for a while.

I've said before here that the good part of this recession is that lawyers who never wanted to be lawyers will get out. Would you want to go to a doctor who was just in it for the money? If you were here to make money and you're not - making money, you won't stay. Even those that are here because they wanted to be lawyers are getting out. Families have to be fed, mortgages have to be paid, Starbucks coffee and new iPhones have to be paid for.

The other good thing about this recession is that lawyers and law students are being forced to ask a complicated question about their venture into this profession.


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