Sunday, May 22, 2011

We May Be, Maybe, Winning The War Against Scumbag Marketing Lawyers

It was like a dream come true. This past week I had the opportunity to speak at two separate conferences on the topic of ethics and online marketing. This was like open mic night - An hour at each conference of combining all my blog posts, tweets, and articles on the topic, and telling 300 people about the sewer that lawyers have made of the internet.

I talked about specific scumbags, yes I named the liars that sell to lawyers. I spoke about how we got to this point - by listening to scumbag marketers trying to and convincing everyone that the goal of a lawyer was not becoming a good lawyer - but getting juice for Google placement. I talked about spamming lawyers, and I spoke about the difference between what you can do, and what you should do.

This was the reaction tweet I was looking for:

@miquelle (who has no bio or name or information as to who it is)
@ social media ethics session @roiconference. This guy basically hates the Internet. A little extreme IMHO.

That response came from someone at the Radius of Influence Conference (ROI) (yes, ROI, for real people), where the theme is:

"The best attorneys, not the biggest advertisers, should get the best cases."

ROI is the brain child of Injury Board co-founder Tom Young (a national membership network of plaintiff attorneys committed to a more constructive way of marketing their skills). In simple terms - this is a group of PI lawyers fed up with the marketing game. When I walked in to the room, Tom was giving the keynote. He said things like "word of mouth," and "referral," and "passion." I knew then that this was not a place for the marketing scum that have permeated the profession.

Without hesitation, I will tell you that if you are a personal injury lawyer, no, strike that, if you are a lawyer who believes there is still room to grow your practice without giving in to the bullshit peddlers that want to sell you space on the internet, attend ROI next year. It's not cheap, but it's a conference where you'll take home a new non-internet sewer perspective on how to grow your practice.

Then I went over to Avvocating, Avvo's national conference in Orlando. As I walked down the hall, my excitement to give the same talk increased with every SEO, marketing, Google placement vendor table I passed. This would be a crowd that would be hostile to my talk. When I entered the room, the first thing I saw and heard was a guy in a Google shirt telling some lawyer the comparison between the "hits" to his website and his blog.

I gave the talk. No one walked out. As at ROI, there were some giggles when I spoke of ghostwriting blogs and tweets, and told everyone to never hire a lawyer for marketing or social media advice.

What fascinated me was that lawyers, both young and old, seemed interested in building law practices outside of faking it on the internet.

Many ask what my goal is in all of this. It is two-fold - one, to put out of business all the snake oil salesmen, and two, to change the message about what it takes to build a practice, even in 2011.

Why do I think we're winning? ("we" is the side of ethical and off-line marketing)

Out of 300 people, 6 told me that the best case they ever got, came from the internet.

Stay tuned.

Non-anonymous comments welcome. 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


David F. Sugerman said...

I did not go to the ROI. The "secrets" to success in building a practice are not secret. While I'm a fan of Tom Young and injury board, it's a bit sad that his voice and advice are in demand. The approach that has worked for you, Tom, me and others is not quick and not easy. In that respect, it creates the perfect environment for snake oil sellers and #Rakofsky wannabes. The correct way takes years and requires hard work. Those two things make it the enemy of those with a sense of entitlement to immediate riches.

Thanks for continuing to talk, write and think about this. I share your sense that we are making headway.

Ben Kearney said...

I, too, don't really get the idea of going to a conference for this. Is there something more to learn than: work your butt off, treat your clients well, think about the long-term reward over the short-term benefits, and work your butt off?

Maybe I'm missing something and should go next year.

My Law License said...


Interesting thoughts. No, ROI would only be a nice weekend for you and a chance to be around like-minded lawyers.

Who benefits from a conference like ROI are lawyers who are wondering if the constant messages about "getting on the internet" and in your face marketing are all there is to building and maintaining a practice. I found a great deal of lawyers in practice for a good number of years and more who never really had to network and as the economy has taken a tumble, don't want to jump on the internet.

John said...


Enjoyed your talk at ROI. I've been a big supporter of the "personal relationship" marketing model that Injuryboard espouses.

What I found valuable about the ROI conference was the chance to meet, talk to and hear from other lawyers who "get it".

It is comforting to know that there are others who feel that ethics and marketing are not mutually exclusive terms.


Cagle Law Firm said...

I appreciated the ROI conference as validation. It was great to be around like minds where ideas were swirling. Always rejuvenated to find contacts/networks that speak the same language. Enjoyed your unrestrained presentation!

Jon E. Lewis said...

It was great meeting you Brian. Enjoyed your talk at ROI.


Rebecca Lee said...

Your presentation at ROI was truly one of my favorites.....candidly funny- but true. I agree 100% that attorneys should not outsource marketing because as you said, "outsourcing marketing=outsourcing ethics." However, I disagree with the idea that one should "never hire a lawyer for marketing or social media advice." During your presentation I got the impression that you meant "former lawyers" who have been disbarred. Personally, as a young attorney I feel more qualified to help my firm and other fellow attorneys with ethical "marketing," including social media and otherwise because, at the end of the day, it all boils down to relationships, likability and trust. Every single day someone emails, texts, or facebook messages me with some bizarre legal question, that I naturally refer to my attorney friends who specialize in whatever they need.

Below is my personal view on this subject-taken directly from the marketing plan I proposed to the law firm I work for- so that I can practice law while I also spearhead all (presently non-existant=)) marketing efforts:

"Advances in technology have shifted the communication paradigm dramatically. Internet technology has not only expanded our circles of friends, but also changed the process of HOW we communicate with them. Most people agree that the best form of advertising, especially with regard to attorneys, is word of mouth. Similar to how Google and Yahoo have virtually replaced the printed yellow phone book, peoples’ “word-of-mouth” conversations are now taking place on facebook, twitter, and blogs. So, it only makes sense to chime in on these conversations and reap the benefits of spreading your message across both “old school” communication channels and “new school” media."