Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Hijacking Of "Cyberbullying" By Marketers, Tech Hacks, And Social Media Gurus

Cyberbullying is a real problem. Children have committed suicide as a result. Cyberstalking is another problem. I've received calls from women being stalked by men (both known and unknown), wondering what to do.

These real problems though, with real definitions, have been embarrassingly used by the marketing, tech hack, and social media guru folks on the internet in order to stave off any criticism, discussion, debate, or questions about their backgrounds and various bullshit they peddle.

Any marketer, tech hack, or social media guru who has complained about being "cyberbullied" or "cyberstalked" should bow their heads. You are worthless theives of terms that have real meaning to defenseless people. You have used these terms to round up your groupies in to believing you and offering help.

So listen up, real good:

"Cyberbullying" is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It has to have a minor on both sides, or at least have been instigated by a minor against another minor. Once adults become involved, it is plain and simple cyber-harassment or cyberstalking. Adult cyber-harassment or cyberstalking is NEVER called cyberbullying.

So you 30 and 40 something marketers, tech hacks, and social media gurus, shut up. You want to write something critical of someone else, great. Defend it. You want to sit there and passively aggressively call your critics "psychopaths," or "weirdos" because they don't hug you and otherwise kiss your ass on your blog, expect a response.

Criticism of the bullshit you write (or even the bullshit I write) is not akin to being "tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted."

There is a group of lawyers, me included, on the internet, that have no problem calling bullshit when we see it. If you believe that is "cyberbullying," then show me your identification that proves you are under 18, and I'll show you mine.

So stop threatening us, stop thinking we are scared of you and your screenshots and your free lawyer friends. That means you - the marketing scam artist, the iPhone "evangelist," and you, you lying social media guru - you and your online "friends." We have been sued, stalked, and as they say, "been there done that." Your threats, discussions about what you are going to do are in and of themselves, as you call, cyberstalking and harrassment. But we can handle it without crying like babies to our online ass kissers.

So shut up. Move on, and stop thinking for a minute that you have any relevance in the world of professionals. Your entire life is online, ours is not.

Grow up, stop whining, and stop hurting the children of the world by trying to convince people that you are a child as well.

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Finally, Good Advice To Young Lawyers: Shut Up

It's not even fun anymore to predict what will happen on the internet when a discussion ensues about how young solo practitioners can make money, immediately.

So the queen of advocacy for solos, Carolyn Elefant, decided to open the floor to anyone with a perceived lucid thought in their head.

As Scott Greenfield noted, "naturally, a marketer showed up like a guppy drawn to chum..."

It's the mantra: Practice in trouble? Cash flow not what you expected with that shiny new iPad and virtual law practice? Start plunging your brains out on marketing.

A quick word about marketing.

Every so often the lawyers get into a dust up with the marketers, social media consultants, and tech hacks on the internet. We live different lives. Lawyers practice law. Many marketers, social media consultants, and tech hacks used to practice law and now don't, but have all the answers on how to make zillions as a lawyer. They'd rather just work at their dining room table and take their daily trip to Starbucks to tweet about the price increase on Netflix, which affects their nightly obligation to stay home because they have no money to go out.

The marketers will try to argue that lawyers are "marketers" as well. This is true. Everyone in business is marketing. The definition of marketing is to take your product or service to market. The difference is that practicing lawyers don't take money from desperate lawyers in return for marketing advice. We may engage in marketing, but our job is to practice law. I know, it's hard to comprehend that the only argument you marketers have is really no argument at all.

Back to the advice.

Here's some (anonymous of course) advice that came in the comments to Carolyn's post:

Waiting for people to refer you things is not a marketing plan. The three big marketing methods are direct mail solicitations, yellow pages and internet.

Learn these words: Search Engine Organization (SEO). SEO is the science of getting page 1 on Google. Become a master of SEO. Besides hiring an internet consultant, you should learn everything that you can yourself from books.

A good service will ghostwrite blogs for you that have good keyword content.

Don't get involved in commenting on other lawyer blogs (especially a crew of criminal defense lawyer blogs who are friendly with this site) They are well followed and readers will follow your comments from their sites to yours, but these guys get into the habit of picking fights with other lawyers on the internet.

(i.e., stay away from me)

From this point forward, 50% of your gross will go to internet and mail advertising. In a good economy, it drops to 25%. Cut non-advertising expenses. You can use a virtual phone network, get rid of the secretary, etc; but you can't skimp on advertising.

Criminal: Lots of people get arrested and need a lawyer. Do misdemeanor and DUI. Stay away from felonies in the beginning. Criminal cases are all flat fee paid up front (or at least half up front). Unlike civil litigation the opposing counsel (the prosecutor) isn't out to crucify you for your inexperience. They'll offer you 20-30% more jail that to an experience criminal defense lawyer who is part of the club; but they won't crucify you.

Marketing driven specialization in routine practice areas criminal/bankruptcy/divorce etc) will let you make a good living.

Too bad this loser was too scared to put his name to his awful advice.

But then there was Joe. Joe put his name to his advice, which caused Greenfield to call him out on his lack of experience.

Joe said maybe he should just "shut up," to which Greenfield said:

That's right. New lawyers don't want to hear this, and don't like it one little bit, but this is exactly the right advice. If you have nothing helpful to say, say nothing. If you have yet to achieve a thriving practice, then you have no advice for anyone else who is having difficulty achieving the same thriving practice.

I realize that the idea of shutting up offends you, and being told to shut up stings. I realize that it flies in the face of what your parents and professors told you, that you should express yourself constantly. But this is the real world, and just because you have a keyboard and time on your hands does not mean you have advice to offer.

After a few months, even a year in practice, I knew nothing. At least I told myself that. I spent a lot of time doing three things, practicing, listening, and learning. Giving advice was something I did to clients and those few lawyers in the PD's office that asked, but not to other lawyers who had been doing this longer than me. I took advice from them.

But that's not acceptable today. There is a notion out there that lawyers like me, like Greenfield, are "scared" of what's happening, that we're scared that our clients will go to younger lawyers armed with shiny toys and a recorded voice at the virtual (basement) office in mommy and daddy's house. That we're scared our clients will prefer someone who lives 2,000 miles away who was "recently quoted" on some website for 3 minutes.

You want to listen to (or pay) a lawyer who's been practicing for less time than it takes to have a child? You think these people have the answers? You think the way things "used to be done" are over?

Lawyers are like anyone else, even worse: tell them you can put money in their pocket, and they will listen. They will type, they will swipe the maxed out credit card for the marketing plan, and they willbe attracted to those that claim to have the secrets to the pot of gold.

Scott was right: "...this is the real world, and just because you have a keyboard and time on your hands does not mean you have advice to offer."

Wait... Oh, nevermind, I've been doing this longer than 9 months.

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Cute" Judicial Orders Are Our Problem, Not Theirs

I don't know when they started, the orders from judges requiring warring lawyers to play rock paper scissors, or as of late, attend a weekend class on civility called a "kindergarten party."

Yesterday, lawyers got their revenge and celebrated the leaking of an email to Judge Sam Sparks taking him to task for his recent behavior.

So now lawyers everywhere are saying "see, those orders are bad, wrong, unfair, and bad.

It's always nice when someone like Chief Judge Jones comes in and saves us from ourselves, changing the focus back to the judiciary and away from us.

So I guess now we're vindicated. Now we don't have to worry that when we act like childred that we're going to get called out on it.

I think these orders are an important part of the practice, because it puts on the table (with humor and not sanctions) the level to which some lawyers will sink to represent a client.

I've read many comments from lawyers saying that judges should just sanction these lawyers and stop being funny about it. Two comments on that - much of this childish behavior is just that - childish - but not unethical. The other thing is that I think they are funny and if we can't laugh at ourselves, then looks like judges will just laugh at us.

The Florida Supreme Court is so fed up with our ability to be civil, that they've amended the oath of attorney. This amendment has caused Florida lawyers to ask "am I grandfathered in?"

Some of them are kidding.

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Why Are We Being Taught To Avoid Anything Unhappy?

In today's world where everything is about marketing (not necessarily telling the truth) there is a theory among the hucksters that all negative comments, criticism, and probing questions, should be avoided at all costs. They feel comfortable taking this tact, and referring to anyone who isn't in the "happy" box, as a "troll."

I'm therefore, a troll. I ask questions, I point out lies, puffery, and other marketing tactics that are nothing more than an attempt to make money the dishonest way.

I'm a problem. I literally, just won't just let things lie.

Well, here's another truth, avoiding the truth, avoiding answering questions that may knock a few points off your perceived "personal brand," just makes things worse.

Recently I was looking to book a hotel. I went to Trip Advisor. I love this site. I read the reviews. There's a couple things I look for. One, the number of positive reviews. I really don't care what they say after the first few, but the number is important.

Then I look at the negative reviews. I read more of those. I notice that mostly, the negative reviews come from people who ask for special accommodations. "We had a party of 35 and didn't all get to stay on the same floor like you said maybe, possibly, could happen." "We got in at 2 a.m. and there weren't 9 people at the desk to help up." Most negative reviews appear to be from people who will never be happy. Some, though, are relevant - the ones about noise, cleanliness, food quality, to name a few.

Finally, I look to see if anyone at the hotel responds to the reviews. If they do, they move up a notch with me.

But last week I noticed something interesting. I saw one hotel where the responses were only to the positive reviews. "Oh, thank you so much, we're so glad you love our wonderful hotel......." Every negative review was left without a response.

I won't stay there regardless of the positive reviews. I know a marketing huckster advised this hotel to only respond to positive comments, and ignore the "trolls."

So this troll won't be staying there.

This behavior is growing on the internet. Lies and deceit don't work well with questions and criticism, so it's ignored.

The next time you're online, watch how people ignore anything that makes them unhappy. Ask questions, and watch who responds, and who cowers.

There's a ton of posts on the internet about responding to negativity. Whatever they say, there is no substitute for taking criticism and questions head on.

It's what real lawyers do.

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

Monday, September 5, 2011

Now Will Everyone Stop Believing The Hype Of Social Media Rock Stars?

I never heard of Trey Pennington. Apparently, the social media crowd loved him. He killed himself over the weekend. He suffered from depression.

To those that don't understand depression, it is (no pun intended) a deadly disease. I served on a non-profit board with a wonderful lawyer, loved by many, and just a great guy. He always offered to help on whatever project we were proposing, and was always glad to see you.

He hung himself one day.

Depression is not being sad, sitting at home complaining, or otherwise feeling sorry for yourself. It is a real, chemical imbalance, that can easily be hidden behind a smile and offer to help you create your dreams with a marketing plan.

There is this vicious debate raging on the internet now between those who say Mr. Pennington had "all these 'friends' on social media," so why couldn't he turn to someone for help? This is the argument being made by people who say the whole social media thing is a joke and that no one has many "real" connections - people they can actually call a "friend," against those that claim social media is the end all be all in life. The social media group - those who loved him, knew him, and say depression is a silent killer that only shows itself when it's too late - they want everyone to stop making this an argument about social media "friends."

The argument is pointless in this situation, and misses the mark.

While it's cute to argue that "hey, what about all those 'friends' on twitter, couldn't you turn to one of them," that's better left for revelations of financial desperation and other social problems. Depression transcends relationships, online or offline.

The real point of this story is something the social media rock stars will not discuss - the notion that someone's created brand on the internet is never the whole story.

Many social media rock stars have no jobs, no income, huge debt, and nothing more than a web presence and a following on twitter. You would never know that, because that's all hidden, no one asks hard questions (especially when faced with the promise of wealth and fame by someone who has neither), and it's a negative discussion which is prohibited by the happysphere on the internet who only respond to congratulations, thank yous and "you're so awesome" type compliments.

The lesson from Trey Pennington is simple - stop assuming that because someone created a web presence and says things that are attractive to you and seemingly can make your life better, that any of it is true.

It's usually not. None of it.

I extend my condolences to the family and friends of Trey Pennington, and hope that at least one of you reading this will realize that your shock is only due to your inability to face reality.

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