All posts by Bryan Mixon

Social Media Sites

Social media has become integral for brands to connect with their customers. It fosters a wider reach than content, email, and traditional advertising given that there are 2.95 billion social media users in the world as of 2019, with North America and East Asia having the highest numbers of users.

What makes social media so unique is that much of it is extremely ephemeral, yet a consistent social media presence will outlast any ad campaign, no matter how successful. If you’ve been thinking about boosting your brand’s online presence by increasing your social media activity, here’s what you need to consider.

Social media has both paid and earned media elements, and buying traffic differs from buying followers.

Social ad spend is currently around $102.2B and on a 7% upward trajectory. After all, with such an enormous reach, spending directly on social media platforms can seem like a more effective use of your marketing budget than traditional advertising or content that is only seen on your own channels. However, social media has both earned and paid media elements to it.

Earned media happens much faster when your company is talked about in a newspaper or magazine. With social media, it can take time to build up a following organically and get the desired traction and results from your social posts. Every brand will face different challenges and advantages when it comes to getting into the groove for regular posts and user engagement, but a universal truth is that you simply cannot buy followers. There are several scammers that promise to increase your follower count, but it’s artificial because they’re all bots with a few “real” accounts thrown in that don’t actually engage with your posts.

However, you can buy traffic which can help boost your following organically. That is essentially what you accomplish by buying ads on any social platform: your ad sets should be tailored to the intended audience most likely to be found on the platform, their interests, and the nature of the platform. It entails a different strategy than engaging with followers you gained organically.

Social media isn’t just Twitter and Facebook.

While Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are the biggest social media platforms out there and considered the most valuable platforms in which to cultivate a following, they’re also not the only ones. There’s hundreds of social media platforms out there, and some of them just aren’t as ubiquitous as Twitter and Facebook. Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube are the places to be if video content is your strength, Instagram and Pinterest for image-heavy content, while Twitter and Facebook are ideal for informative and entertaining social content that’s primarily text.

The platforms themselves are also not monolithic. It can be in characteristics: what Facebook has in the number of users, Twitter has in engagement. The vein of content that succeeds on Instagram might not always translate to Twitter and vice versa. While some platforms are also well-suited to brands like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, other platforms won’t always adapt well to brand content, such as Tumblr.

Think about which social media sites you should prioritize, and why.

While Instagram may put imagery first and Facebook and Twitter have more emphasis on written content, some social platforms are structured for specific interests or purposes. For instance, NextDoor is geographically based on neighborhoods and developments, which is important for businesses that depend on local foot traffic. LinkedIn is designed for businesses and freelancers to find clients, and job-seekers to further their careers, so it’s important to include it in your social strategy if one of your goals is to improve your reputation as an employer. Discord has numerous applications but is best known for their applications in the video gaming spheres and political activism.

Before deciding on which platforms you should focus on, you should think about both the user base you have and the one that you want. Where would they be most likely to go? Why? What kind of engagement are they seeking, and what type of functionality would they looking for in particular? Twitter and Instagram tend to be very up-to-the-minute while Pinterest and YouTube provide tools for users to save content they plan to reference again later through boards and playlists. Discord servers provide chat functions while Facebook has public and private groups that are separate from feeds.

It can be hard to determine the “sweet spot” for how many platforms you should focus on, because every brand’s needs are different. You don’t want to spread too thin but also don’t want to focus all of your social capital in one place.

Real-time engagement is crucial for success with social media.

There are many services, such as Buffer and Hootsuite, that enable you to “set it and forget it” by scheduling posts in advance. While this is helpful for marketing campaigns and maintaining a steady online presence, it ultimately doesn’t cultivate a stable following.

Time and resources need to be put into growing and maintaining followings across social media platforms. The word “social” is in the phrase, right? Talk to people! Have your social media manager engage with people who reply to posts and make comments or ask questions, or do the same with accounts that the brand follows. That real-time engagement is what separates social media from other types of online marketing and contact: when it comes to interactions with your different channels, customers and prospects are more apt to have a specific purpose like troubleshooting a product. Social media is a way to shape your brand voice while responding to users, and provide different ways for them to interact.

For better or worse, social media is a public forum.

Social media has been a great equalizer in ways that traditional media has not: marginalized people can form huge audiences, and brands can utilize social engagement no matter the size of their ad budget. But it’s also a public platform. Some users will use it like a customer service channel while others will just like and repost your content. How your team responds to an angry customer on social media can serve as an exemplar of how you solve problems, or make the problem worse, now that it’s public. Social media is a reflection of your brand, and this goes for both the content that is posted and shared as well as how you engage with people.

Brands also need to exercise caution when jumping on memes, trends, and hashtags, because this can have disastrous outcomes.

Social media can be fun and lucrative, but brands still must account for the various nuances of social media engagement when forming and and executing a social media marketing strategy.

Health Insurance For Lawyers

Health insurance is a vital consideration for any lawyer practicing law. Whether you’re a solo-practitioner, small law-firm or a team of multiple partners, having the right insurance policy will provide peace of mind and financial support in the case of any unforeseen medical events.

Depending on the size of your firm, there are various packages you can obtain which cover general health, dental, and more extensive health related operations. You can choose between short-term medical to long-term medical and rates will vary depending on who you choose.

If you’re looking for malpractice insurance, you can read a comprehensive article about what you need to know.

Importance of Health Insurance

Health insurance is often in debate in the United States and regardless of the responses, having a good health insurance plan helps pay for the high costs of medical care.

Health care plans come in different packages and sizes. You can purchase individual health insurance plans or packages that protect you and the people working at your law firm.

All plans will vary on their degree of coverage however most plans provide coverage for general medical situations such as: seeing a primary care physician (i.e. for general medical check ups), medical emergencies (may require deductibles to cover expenses), preferred medical providers (where you have the freedom to choose your medical practitioner).

Getting the right health insurance deters any unexpected and unwanted costs associated with complications to your health. If you’re unsure where to get health insurance for lawyers, keep reading to review some of the choices available to you.

Health Insurance from the American Bar Association

Before searching for health insurance from private companies, you find a variety of beneficial health insurance packages from the American Bar Association (ABA)  or your local state bar.

If you are or become a member of the (ABA), you are eligible to receive discounted rates for health, dental and long-term health insurance plans.

For a solo practitioner, you can apply for a non-subsidy plan or choose from a list of affordable medical insurance plans that cover short term, long term, or temporary periods of coverage.

Additional packages can be purchased separately such as dental and vision insurance. If you’re operating a firm with multiple partners and/or associates, you can receive group rates at a higher discount. These insurance plans offer 100% coverage and you won’t have to pay any deductibles. In addition, you’ll receive nationwide coverage and you have the freedom to select and dentist of your choice.

If you’re looking for long term health care coverage, the ABA provides coverage to protect you today until old age.

The options offered through the ABA offer high limits, no deductibles and no credit checks. If you’re unsure where to get your insurance, reviewing the policies offered here would be a good start.

Public Assistance Programs

If you’re looking for a simple solution for health insurance you can apply for public assistance programs. While these programs are often available for lawyers who have limited or no income, depending on your situation, they may provide a viable alternative to more expensive health insurance packages.

One example of a public assistance program includes Medicaid. Medicaid is a health insurance program provided by the federal state which covers nursing home case, personal care services, and other medical costs for people with limited incomes.

This option is typically for those lawyers with low incomes and may apply to your situation.

If you or your law firm has more flexible and can invest in higher health care premiums, the following list of insurance providers may be more suitable for you.

Tips for Choosing Health Insurance for Lawyers


There is a lot of specific language included in health insurance policies. You will often see acronyms like HMO and HSA used repeatedly to describe what coverage you receive and how much the insurance company will provide.

As a legal professional, you know the importance of understand the fine details of a case. When it comes to choosing health insurance, you’ll want to know as much as possible to make the best decision for you and your lawyers.

Here’s a few tips to help guide you when deciding which health insurance provider to go with:

  1. Who Needs Coverage? If you’re a solo practitioner, you may only need coverage for yourself and any staff that helps out at the office. However, for a bigger law firm, you’ll want to consider who needs coverage, what’s their family situation, and whether or not your employees have children. Finding family-friendly insurance policies will provide coverage for not only your own needs but the needs of those who work at the office.
  2. What’s your budget? Once you know who needs health insurance and the kind of insurance you may want to receive, what is your budget going to be? Health insurance can be expensive and you’ll have to factor in your law firm’s budget when deciding how much coverage you can afford and the cost of the premium per person. Depending on where you practice law, you may be obligated to provide at least half the cost of the insurance plans.
  3. What are your options? You have the freedom to shop around for a health insurance provider that works best for you, your staff and your budget. Before making a decision, here are a few important points to consider:
  • What is the monthly premium rates?
  • Is there a deductible or co-payment? How much?
  • Can you choose your own health care provider or do you have to choose from a predetermined list from the insurance provider?
  • Does the insurance plan cover prescriptions?
  • Are there add-ons available? Dental? Vision?

When choosing a health insurance provider for you or your law firm, it is importance to perform your own due diligence to find the best plan. Although deciding on an insurance policy will be determined based on your budget and number of staff in office, having the right plan is valuable for your staff and their overall well being. 

Best Briefcases For Lawyers

First impressions are important and, as a lawyer, having an impressive briefcase defines both your profession and your degree of professionalism.

Briefcases are a necessity in the field of law. They secure important legal documents, carry around your laptop and organize your essential tools for performing your job.

Whether you’re walking into a court hearing or meeting a new client for a consultation, having the best briefcase for lawyers will provide you with that added edge your need to build trust with your clients and perform your job effectively.

Lawyer Briefcase Styles

When choosing the best briefcase for your legal work, consider sticking to simple and aesthetically appealing styles. High quality leather and neutral tones provide a classic and professional look which match the suit and tie you’ll often wear to the office and in the court rooms.

For colors, black is always an all-purpose briefcase color that works in every situation. However, shades of tan, brown, and navy can also work well with your style of dress and overall appearance.

For material, 100% genuine leather creates some of the best craftsmanship, longevity, and versatility for briefcase designs. While having a briefcase made with real leather may drive the prices upward, there are always synthetic alternatives that maintain quality at a more reasonable price point.

For style, there are all kinds of bags offering organizational structure and aesthetic designs. From the standard clip lock briefcase to fashionable satchel designs, choosing the best briefcase will come down to your own personal taste and organizational needs.

List of Best Briefcases for Lawyers

Edmond Leather Expandable Briefcase

The Edmond leather expandable briefcase offers a traditional looking style with lid locks, file dividers, holders for a phone, pens, cards, and accessories, and a dedicate sleeve to hold tablets or small laptops. This lawyer’s briefcase is made with premium cowhide leather with a soft suede lining.

Colors: Black & Brown
Warranty: 1-year manufacturer’s defect + 30 day return policy

Thin Front Pocket Leather Briefcase by Saddleback Leather Co.

Here’s a briefcase that boasts professionalism, quality, and style. The this front pocket leather briefcase is made in 4 different colors and 2 different sizes to accommodate just about any tool and document you have. The inner lining is made from a natural pigskin and the quality is designed to last you a lifetime. This briefcase is one of the best on the list and is well worth the investment for your legal career.

Colors: Black, Chestnut, Dark Coffee Brown, Tobacco
Warranty: 100-year warranty

Laptop Compatible Business Wheeler by Jack Georges

Here’s the perfect briefcase for any lawyer that’s always on the go and has to travel from city to city. The Business Wheeler by Jack Georges is designed with rugged German leather which makes it extremely durable and scratch resistant. The inner compartment can hold up to 17” laptop and other accessories from the office. The hardware components have a quality finish and are made from nickel. The highlight of this briefcase is it’s telescopic handle and skate wheels allowing lawyers to check in this bag at the airport or wheel it abroad the cabin to wherever they need to be.

Colors: Black
Warranty:
Lifetime manufacturer’s defect

Handmade Genuine Leather Laptop Briefcase / Messenger Bag by Kattee 

If you’re looking for a lawyer’s briefcase at an affordable price point, this handmade leather handbag by Kattee would be it. The briefcase includes various storage compartments to place your pens, smart phone, wallet and other stationery supplies. The inner compartment is smartly designed to fit a 15.7 inch laptop (perfect for any MacBook Pro users). For a bag made with 100% genuine cow leather, this is a very affordable, high quality briefcase for every lawyer.

Colors: Dark Coffee
Warranty: N/A

Piazza Leather Luggage Bag by Floto 

Here’s a stylish leather bag you can hang from your shoulder or carry like a briefcase. The Piazza leather luggage bag by Floto has a big interior pouch to carry your laptop, personal files, and large books. These bags are made in Tuscany, Italia using 100% quality calf-skin leather and hand made crafting methods. If you’re looking for a leather bag with enough space to contain your office on the go, this simple yet classy bag would be a good fit.

Color: Brown
Warranty: Lifetime

Venezia Luggage Bag by Floto

Here’s another quality bag made by Floto. The Venezia luggage bag is the best briefcase for lawyers because of the price point and the quality. All bags are hand made with 100% Italian polished calf-skin leather. You can choose between brass or stainless steel hardware depending on your taste. The bag has a secure front lock requiring a key to open to protect all your client’s sensitive information.

Colors: Black, Brown, Custom Black, Custom Brown, Olive (Honey) Brown
Warranty:
Lifetime

70256 Original Briefcase by Filson 

This Original Briefcase by Filson is 100% made in the USA. The design is compact and practical with a water repellent cotton twill and genuine leather. The hardware is made with polished brass providing strength and resilience to carry all your heavy supplies inside. This bag works well in both professional and casual situations, so if you can continue to use this bag when your office work is done.

Color: Navy, Black, Brown, Desert Tan
Warranty: N/A

Final Thoughts

When purchasing leather briefcases, something to keep in mind is that it takes time to break in the leather. After carrying the bags and using them in your day-to-day activities, the leather will mold to your body and the strong leather smell will eventually fade.

To protect your leather bags and increase their longevity, you may want to purchase a leather polish or conditioner.

How To Get Clients As An Attorney

If you’re fresh out of law school, you might consider starting your own law firm. In order to succeed, having the ability to find new clients will become the foundation of your success.

One of the first things you can do to spread the word of your career is by simply talking about it. Whenever you meet new people, let them know you’re a lawyer.

What you shouldn’t be doing is giving away free advice but instead discuss what it is your law firm can do and how they can get in touch with you.

If you want a few more ideas on how an attorney can get clients, here’s a list of ideas to help you grow your firm.

Friends and Family

Your friends and family will be one of the best referrals to help you find new clients as an attorney.

Since they know you best, you’ll become the first person they’ll mention if one of their friends or someone they know needs a lawyer.

If you’re opening a new firm, be sure to send an announcement via letter or e-mail to let everyone know.

Join the Bar Association in Your Community

If you have absolutely no connections, the first thing you should do is join any bar associations of committees in your community. Making connections and building relationships with other attorneys will give others a chance to get to know you and what you do.

Eventually, this can lead to mutual exchanges of clients back and forth. If one of your new connections has a client they can’t help (i.e. your connection is a divorce lawyer looking for legal advice for a car accident) they may refer that client to you.

In exchange, when you get clients at your law firm seeking services you don’t provide, you can refer them to someone in your list of connections.

Develop Your Online Presence

Social media and online browsers are great places to start finding clients as an attorney.

Get started with a website. Having a website allows you to showcase your previous cases, give information about your law firm, and most importantly, let’s visitors know how you can help.

Once thing to consider when setting up a website to find new clients is your domain name. The domain name you choose for your law firm’s online identity should stand out and briefly highlight your area of expertise. Make sure you choose the right domain name for your law firm before going live.

With your newly made law firm website, you can begin to share your knowledge on a blog. Blogging allows you to share content about your law firm in a way that connects with prospective clients dealing with legal problems.

Articles like, “What to do if you want a divorce” or “Steps to take after a car accident” provide information people may be searching. Of course, within articles like those will include “contact a lawyer to start a consultation.” If you’re content marketing is done well, you can use blogs to attract visitors to your website, get them to contact your firm, and potentially increase the number of clients you get.

Social Media

With a blog for your law firm’s website you can begin sharing content on places like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn. Sharing on these platforms allow you to make direct connections with those who may need your legal services.

As your social media channels grow in size, you can occasionally share promotional posts such as “Get a free consultation” or “You pay if we win!”

Posting frequently on social media is how you’ll stand out online. While this may seem like an added amount of work, your posts have the ability to get new clients organically. An alternative to this would be advertising.

Advertising

Two methods of online advertising for lawyers is by hiring a Google Adwords agency or a Facebook Ads agency / Instagram Marketing Agency.

Creating a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign with Google will put your law firm’s website at the top of the search engines. Instead of worrying whether your website is ranking high in the search engines organically, you can use a PPC campaign to put you at the top.

Google AdWords uses keywords to match your ads with someone searching for it. For example, if someone was searching for, “attorneys in New York,” having an ad using that phrase will increase the likelihood of it being clicked. However, depending on where you live and what area of practice you are in, Google AdWords can be very expensive.

Facebook Ads is another way for an attorney to get new clients. You can modify your ads to target specific groups of people and create a distinct purpose. Facebook ads can be used to grow your social media page or directed toward a contact page or get in touch with your firm.

You can also create ads for LinkedIn and Instagram depending on your practice and how detailed you know your prospective client types.

When using online advertising to push clients to your website, be sure to send traffic to pages that convert. You could end up paying a lot of money if you’re web pages are not created to turn a curious visitor into your next client.

Attorney Lead Generation Services

If you’re not good with technology, social media, or websites, you can use an attorney lead generation service to find new clients.

Total Attorneys and AttorneyBoost are services which allows you access to a pool of people looking for a lawyer. Total Attorney handles your marketing and sends traffic to your website.

Online attorney solutions vary in quality of clients and conversions on your website. Use these with caution.

As an attorney, getting clients is the key to a successful legal practice. How you find clients will require a combination of the above ideas in addition to the methods you discover and learn.

Types of Lawyers

If you’re trying to find a lawyer to solve your legal problems, you’ll likely realize that there are many types of lawyers. The range of Legal services can make it difficult to determine which one you need for your specific situation.

You won’t find a lawyer that can fix all problems because most lawyers will specialize in a specific area of law. The type of lawyer you need will depend on the legal problem you have.

Since there are so many types of lawyers this guide will cover the most common practices to help you choose the right lawyer for your legal needs.

Personal Injury Lawyer

An injury is defined by law as an injury to the body, mind, or emotions. The laws covered by this type of lawyer include Civil and Tort Law. Tort law involves cases that result in injury but is not considered to be a criminal offence.

Personal injury lawyers focus on obtaining compensation from damages caused by other parties. The range of injuries include professional malpractice, car accidents, workplace injuries, slip and fall accidents, dangerous products, and more.

Intellectual Property Lawyer

Intellectual property covers a range of creativity that comes from the mind. These include the inventions, artistic work (visual and literary), lawyer websites, symbols, images, designs, and names used for financial purposes.

Intellectual property lawyers work with these original creations to secure patents, trademarks, copyrights, and licensing agreements. Intellectual property lawyer require significant skill when drafting documents to protect the rights of creators.

Immigration Lawyer

One of the common tasks of an immigration lawyer is to assist immigrants in obtaining citizenship in a new country. In addition, these lawyers will protect immigrants and prevent them from being deported.

Immigration lawyers also provide legal advice and support regarding the appropriate visas required to work in different countries. For some countries, obtaining citizenship can obtain several years, having an immigration lawyer makes the process much more efficient.

Criminal Lawyer

Criminal lawyers, also known as criminal defense lawyers or public defenders, help individuals, companies, and other entities charged with a criminal offense. These offenses may include domestic violence, physical abuse, sex crimes, drug crimes, theft, fraud, and more.

Criminal lawyers can provide bail bond hearings, trial defense, plea bargains, revocation hearings, appeals, and post-conviction remediation. In addition to these legal services, the work required from criminal lawyers include investigating cases, interviewing witnesses, researching case law, building a defense strategy, negotiate for lesser charges, advocate for their defendant, and much more.

Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical malpractice lawyers are specialized in dealing with situations of malpractice. These may include a bad or wrong diagnosis, surgery gone wrong, doctor committing fraud, obtaining the wrong prescription, and doctors breaching patient confidentiality.

Medical malpractice lawyers are also able to protect medical professionals if they are being sued for malpractice.

Family & Divorce Lawyer

Family and divorce lawyers deal with many of the legal aspects of marriage. Whether you need a prenuptial agreement or planning for a divorce, these are the lawyers to go to.

In addition to dealing with divorce, these lawyers handle sensitive cases dealing with child custody. The decisions this type of lawyer has to make require incredible interpersonal and listening skills while dealing with these sensitive situations.

Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you’re struggling financially and considering filing for bankruptcy, having a consultation with a bankruptcy lawyers would be the first step. This type of lawyer provides advice and information regarding your eligibility for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy lawyers also provide information regarding alternatives for bankruptcy and types of bankruptcy.

Business Lawyer

A business lawyer, also known as a corporate lawyer, covers a range of legal services such as employment, intellectual property, tax compliance, mergers and acquisitions. These lawyers specialize in areas like startups, small businesses or large enterprises.

The duties required by some business lawyers include drafting legal documents or dealing with lawsuits filed against a business. These are transnational lawyers (dealing with negotiation and employment terms) and litigation lawyers (handling lawsuits when a company violates the terms in a contract).

Estate Planning Lawyer

This type of lawyer helps their clients with their estates, assets, and other important legal actions when someone passes away or becomes incapacitated. Estate planning lawyers draft legal documents like trusts, wills, and deeds.

In addition, estate planning lawyers focus on taxes and tax implications for their clients.

Civil Rights Lawyer

Civil rights lawyers protect the rights of citizens. Their purpose is to protect against discrimination and harassment based on physical or mental disability, religion, race, gender, nationality, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Civil rights lawyers also protect the rights and freedom of thought, conscience, speech, expression, the press, and religion. Whenever someone’s rights have been violated, this type of lawyer will recover damages in the court of law.

Entertainment Lawyers

While there are some overlaps with an intellectual property lawyer, this type of lawyer focuses solely on representing clients in the entertainment industry. Entertainment lawyers work with artists, employees, companies and solo entertainers in film, music, radio, television, theater, and video games.

An entertainment lawyer typically drafts contracts, negotiate deals, and handle any intellectual property issues.

Digital Media and Internet Lawyers

Focusing on internet law, these lawyers handle all kinds of legal issues from the digital world. Digital media and internet lawyers handle cases like ensuring compliance with internet laws, privacy complaints, and advising on the use of trafficking tools.

Public Interest Lawyer

Public interest lawyers work toward furthering the interest of the general public or significant segments of it. The work required from these lawyers include broad topics such as environmental protection, child welfare, illegal discrimination, and domestic violence.

Public interest lawyers work with the general public who may not be able to afford private legal support. This type of lawyer is known to have one of the lowest lawyer salaries and they often work for NPOs of government agencies.

Picking The Best Domain Name For Your Law Practice

In order to run a successful law practice, you’re going to need a website. Your website is the place for potential clients to discover your legal services, get to know you, and  schedule a consultation.

However, before you or hired help creates your website, you’ll want to pick the best domain name for your law firm.

A website and a domain name are not the same, although they are closely connected. The website contains all your content, information, and images. Whereas the domain name is the address that people type in their browsers that bring them to your website.

There are many types of domain names available and there’s a few important guidelines to follow when choosing the best one for your law firm:

Top Level Domain for Lawyers

 Top Level Domains (TLDs) are the little part of the domain name found after the DOT. These include, .COM, .ORG, .NET, and .GOV. There is even a specially created TLD for lawyers called .LAW.

The kind of TLD you decide will play a role in your ability to being found online. The universal TLDs are those listed above. There are also country specific TLDs such as .CA (Canada), .CN (China), .EU (European Union). Using these domains are restricted to those residing in that country and may not have as large a global reach as a .COM.

Most domains can be registered by anyone, however, the .LAW specific TLD requires proof of license before it can be issued.

Is a .LAW the best domain for you?

What Are Lawyer Keywords?

 Consider your domain name as a very important keyword that aides in your website getting found. People looking for a lawyer may search the following in Google: Florida Divorce Lawyers.

 Those words, are considered keywords and they play an important part in how your website is found online.

One thing to keep in mind is that keyword stuffing your domain name could lead to penalties by search engines and prevent your site from ever being noticed.

For example,

“childcustodydivorcelawyers.com”

While a name like this appears to be congruent with your services, there are a variety of reasons to not use this kind of name.

Best Domain Names For Lawyers

 Creating a domain name that is memorable and brandable is the best approach to take. This is important. Your domain name will serve as a banner that not only catches people’s attention but prepares people for what they’ll find on your website.

So, consider the following: what is the overall message you’re trying to say? Can people remember it easily? Can they type it into their browser without difficulty? Are there other websites with domain names similar to yours?

In addition, here are a few points to help you pick the best domain:

  1. Keep it short and simple (KISS). Shorter names are easier to remember and simpler to type into the browser. Just imagine, if your name was Bernie, you could have this: bernietheattorney.com!
  2. Be consistent. Your domain name should be a reflection of the services being offered and/or the location you provide them. Having a name like nyccourtconsultations.com (implying that you offer court consultations in NYC) would be more powerful than worldoflaw.com (potentially implying this site is about a world of flaws?).
  3. Don’t use unpopular TLDs. There are many different domain names available that may seem ideal for branding purposes but have less effect as a common TLD like .COM. Many people are familiar with .COM as a domain name.
  4. Avoid using hyphens. Search engines sometimes consider websites using hyphens as spammy and trying to stuff too many keywords. For example, best-lawyers-in-san-francisco.com may signal to search engines that this website is spam. While hyphens can be used without receiving penalties.

Lawyers Starting A Blog

 Having a website allows your to showcase your practice, services, past clients, and contact information to the entire world. As well, another useful thing to do on your website is starting a blog.

As mentioned before, keywords play an important part in getting your site noticed online. While the domain name plays a significant roles in directing people to the website, the content is the most valuable.

The best way to make your website stand out online is by providing expert advice and quality content. Blogs allow you to build your reputation online as well as discover new, potential clients.

Domain Name Overview:

Do Don’t
 

●        Do use your personal or business name(s). Remember to keep it short and simple. Use a domain name like, smithlawassociates.com, instead of smithandtullylawassociates.com
●        Do use your area of practice. If you’re a divorce lawyer, legal advisor, or criminal lawyer, feature that (i.e. smithdivorcelawyers.com)
●        Do use something memorable. Especially for blogs, having a domain like, fortheloveoflaw.com or leagueoflawyers.com could serve as a great platform to express your legal work as well as for branding purposes.
●        Do use a common TLD (such as .COM or even .LAW).
●        Do consider the ethical code. Making claims that cannot be proven, or misleading (i.e. always-win-lawyers.com) may be a violation of your local jurisdiction’s ethical rules.

 

●        Don’t use names that may change in the future (i.e. if an associate leaves your law firm)
●        Don’t use abbreviations of your legal service that could create a negative reputation (i.e. Austin, Stevens, and Smith Lawyers Group: asslawyers.com)
●        Don’t use spammy words like, best, top, greatest, etc. While you may feel that your law firm is #1 in your area, the search engines may flag your site as spam.
●        Don’t make it too personal. Whatever you are interested in and passionate about should not be used for your domain name, unless, it is relevant to your area of law.
●        Don’t use hard to remember or difficult to spell words.
●        Don’t copy another domain name. If serveandprotect.com is taken, avoid taking serveandprotect.net (or any other TLD). This can confuse your potential clients.

Choosing the best domain name for your law practice is not going to be easy. Remember that search engines like Google do provide benefits when a keyword is matched in your domain name. However, try to avoid coming off as spammy and use a name that is broad but to the point. For branding purposes, short and catchy would be the better approach.

Rise Of The Machines? Will Lawyers Become Obsolete?

Let’s consider this for a moment: lawyers being replaced by robots.

It sounds like a farfetched, sci-fi movie featuring advanced robotics bringing clients to court with analytical judges determining the fate of humanity.

However, as crazy as it may sound, will lawyers become obsolete with the growing trends in technology and communication?

Since the dawn of industrialization, there have been numerous revolutions in robotics technology that has freed up labors for the blue collar workers. From the view of human progress, this is the step in the right direction. However, as more and more people are losing jobs to robots, how will this affect the legal world?

Advancements in technology allows for information to be stored and retrieved in an easily accessible and systematized way. If artificial intelligence can be designed to extract evidence useful for litigations, to collect details for contracts, and trigger red flags whenever companies are committing fraud or other illegal activities, would this eliminate the number of lawyers needed in the world?

Automatization of Legal Work

Automatization is an ongoing development that allows for time efficiency and saving significant amounts of money. From a client’s point of view, if utilizing an online database, or “e-lawyer” to get accurate results, fast.

The early beginnings of technology designed to make a lawyer’s life easier started with chatbots. Technology from Ross and Lex Machina provide a chat lot system that makes setting up consultations simple for clients to do.

Another rising robot is called DoNotPay which was developed by Joshua Browder. This is a free parking ticket fighting chatbot that asks you a series of questions about your case. Questions like, “Were you illegally parked because of a medical emergency?” or “Were road signs clearly marked?”

At the end of the chat, the bot prepares a letter that can be used to fight parking tickets. So far, this system has been used to help hundreds of thousands of people to win parking ticket violations in Seattle, New York, and London.

What Areas of Law Could Be Most Affected

Technology is advancing at an extremely rapid pace. Each and every year a new highly developed superphone is being shoved into our pockets. If automatizing the lawyer process is the next step into the future, there may be some areas of law that will be impacted more than others.

The areas of law that once required many forms, contacts, and documents to be made may soon become obsolete. Things like business documents, contested filings, and estate planning documents, while performed by non-lawyers, are a part of the collective income of a law firm.

Currently, there are companies racing to innovate this area of law by creating efficient online services that can provide these documents in a single click.

Take for example LawGeex. They have developed an AI system that allows for the automation and approval of contracts. There focus is to eliminate paper work altogether.

Once, lawyers were required for their legal knowledge and careful selection of law like words. Now, AI machinery will be able to analyze text to review and understand the legal document.

What Are the Possibilities  of Robolawyers?

These chatbots could be the beginning of a complete legal revolution. There could be dramatic changes to the way bankruptcy, divorce disputes, and deportation can be dealt with. Instead of using a lawyer to dispute the finer points of law, AI systems can be developed to analyze every possible situation and find the exceptions, loopholes and historical cases needed to win a case.

Essentially, an AI will have access to a whole database of legal language and the history of legal cases to make decisions. From this perspective, the argument of human error leading to mistakes in law can certainly be avoided.

Here’s a couple more examples of law being replaced with technological solutions.

Judicata which is developing a database that was just mentioned above. While it may not be a go to tool for people experiencing a legal issue, it’s an AI program that provides lawyers with a chance to extract the information they need to build a case or contract.

Another AI based law solution comes from FairDoc. FairDoc focused on creating a virtualized legal team allowing for intake of clients to be made online and even tracking your client activity. It’s another cost effective solution to reduce the amount of work that is typically demanded by lawyers.

How Can You Fight The Rise of Robots?

There’s no avoiding the rapid growth that technology has in the world. As the old saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

In this case, the some of the roboticized approaches to law may work in your favor. Since you are a lawyer with the knowledge and experience in the field, many of the time saving services that are reducing the amount of paperwork can still be performed through you.

When it comes to sensitive issues and human beings, going to see a lawyer will almost always be the preferred approach to dealing with a machine.

However, to assure yourself a job in the future to come, here’s a few things to consider:

  1. Approach new technology cautiously. Technology is often being tested and does come with some setbacks. While AI lawyers may seem like a smart solution, a single hack could leak a lot of sensitive information.
  2. Question what may be “replacing” you. Be skeptical. Not all technology may be the best for you, your law firm, or your clients.
  3. Accept changes. You can stick to traditional law practice, and perhaps you’ll be just fine, however finding a few new pieces of software that makes your law practice easier and more efficient may be in your best interest.
  4. Preserve your practice. Let’s face it, some parts of technology can be good, but outsourcing significant parts of your business with 3rd parties can become a liability. Your clients trust you. Therefore you have to make decisions as to whether the products and “robots” used in your practice can be trusted for the long term.

Conclusion

Likely there won’t be a terminator situation rising anytime soon for lawyers, however being up-to-date will help you stay ahead. One of the best things to is to embrace the coming changes but doing so with a hint of skepticism. To really succeed, bringing your law practice online may be the cutting edge you need to stay alive. Imagine having your own blog, you could be the leader in the transition from human based lawyers to AI law machines.

Starting Your Own Law Firm Checklist

Think of starting your own law firm? Here is a simple checklist to guide your toward setting up your office, deciding on the area of law you will practice, your legal responsibilities, staffing demands, and much more.

Name Your Law Firm

It all starts here: naming your law firm. This is going to be the most important decisions you will have to make for your law firm. Your name will identify who you are and what you do. Using your own surname is a traditional approach to naming a law firm, however, there may be some added benefits when you include the type of law you practice (i.e. Mathers & Son Divorce Lawyers Inc.).

Choose One Area of Law

This is important. You could provide a generic practice and try to assist anyone who comes in the front door. This is a rare approach for lawyers nowadays. Pick one or possibly two areas of law to specialize your practice exclusively. You won’t get good if you practice a little of this and a bit of that. You’ll build you confidence and credibility faster when you dedicate your time and efforts on a clearly defined area of law.

Choose A Location

 Opening a law firm, much like any startup, can be done from home. While this may serve as a financially viable solution in the beginning, in the long run, you’re going to want an office. Starting with an office in a key location (i.e. convenient and comfortable for clients to enter for consultations) is key. If you’re on a tight budget, consider sharing some office space or try virtual law offices to act as your front desk.

Legal Stuff

As a lawyer, the last thing you want to do is miss the fine print for the legal obligations you are under. Permits, licenses and identification numbers are likely required to start your own law firm. Check with your local laws to see what will be required from you.

In addition, you have to consider your taxes. Your choices include sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, corporation. Each has their own pros and cons and you’ll have to decide which will be best for your personal practice.

Office Furniture

If you’ve found a great location for your office, you’re going to need it furnished. Consider how you want the appearance and aesthetic of your office to be. Also, there are a few office necessities you don’t want to forget:

  • Photocopy machine
  • Personal computer
  • Telephone System and requisite service
  • Fax machine (if necessary)
  • Desks
  • Chairs
  • Cabinets and book shelves
  • Trash cans and recycling bins
  • Magazines and magazine racks
  • Interior decorations
  • And, don’t forget the long list of office supplies (pencils, envelopes, etc.)

Get a Professional 1-800 Office Number

This is not a necessity but a great idea for branding purposes. Having a 1-800 of 1-855 number can be used to establish yourself as being professional and serious about practicing law. You can even use this number with call forwarding to your personal or direct phone line. Getting a number like this can be set up in less than a day. Try contacting your local telephone service providers for more information.

Library

Every lawyer needs a library to stay up to date as well as for fact checking and research. In your field, law is an ongoing, evolutionary process. Practice guides and case law are constantly being updated. If you choose a location near a law library, you can minimize the cost of your own. There are also a variety of online sources that can assist you with this as well.

Start A Blog To Find Your Clients

Starting a blog may be one of the best solutions for finding new clients. Sharing your knowledge and expertise online can help build your credibility and authority in your community. Also, websites allow people to search and choose lawyers and firms that best suit their needs. If your website is setup correctly, clients will be coming to you instead of you having to search for your clients.

Build a Referral Network

 Let everyone know that you are going to be starting a law firm. Meet with other practicing lawyers and ask how they found and received their cases. If they’re in a different field of law, you may be able to build some connections that pass off some clients in your direction. Or, they may be overwhelmed with work of their own and will refer clients to other lawyers they have a relationship with (i.e. you). This is a mutual exchange. If you’re a divorce lawyer and someone comes to you asking for criminal defense, you can refer them to someone in your network.

Another alternative is to set up a system where you can pay people you trust a referral fee. This can incentivise people to send work to you. There are certain laws in place that govern this so you should try to learn how it would be applied to you.

Join Local Organizations and Listservs

Aside from building a referral network, join local organizations like Southern State Criminal Law Association, to connect with fellow lawyers in a similar area of law to discuss cases. Joining this or a listserv, which is an email that gets sent to every single member on the list, is a great way to gain advice and other perspectives from lawyers in your practice. This is extremely useful for those just starting out and require a mentor who can answer questions.

Systems

Like any business, have a key outline of operating principles will help you manage and run your law firm more efficiently and effectively. Here are a few key systems you should consider:

  • Accounting: There are a variety of software programs that can easily manage your finances. Another alternative is to hire an accountant.
  • Time Tracking & Billing: Keep on top of how you track your time and the way you bill your clients will save you from a lot of headaches. Your billing system should issue invoices to clients regularly and in a timely manner for all work as it is completely.
  • Filing: There are going to be a lot of files to organize and storing away. Having easy access so you can find certain documents in the future will create a hassle free work environment.
  • Docketing and Calendar System: Every law firm should have a system in place that manages docketing and calendars. Lawyers are humans too and the chances of forgetting something can happen to them too.
  • Client Conflict: At some point in your career you are likely to experience a few clients unimpressed with your practice. Have a system in place that allows you to manage conflict and keep it in check is a must.

Get Insurance

This is the last thing you want to happen to you in your law firm. However, it is something that must be consider: getting sued for malpractice. There are malpractice insurance companies that can provide you with the protection you need for your practice. This is especially important for those starting a sole proprietorship.

Final Notes

Starting a law firm requires a lot of planning and preparation. You’ll need a budget to cover startup expenses, opening of new accounts, and much more. When the office is set up and you’re ready to work, the next thing to do is to start marketing your law firm.

Starting A Law Firm

Like any business, there’s risk involved. Starting a law firm, whether fresh out of college or years into a career, requires careful planning, some financial resources, and a marketing plan to succeed.

If you’re serious about starting a law firm, you may find it a little more difficult than passing the bar. Luckily, this is a good place to help you get started.

Before Starting A Law Firm

There are a few things you should consider before going ahead and registering a law firm. The most important place to start is by creating a plan.

Consider these:

The beginning of any new business will be tough and first year startups often struggle before they succeed. Having a little patience and determination will see returns to your personal investments and the only way to get there is with a plan.

Have Enough Cash To Get Started

You need a plan to succeed but you will also need a bit of money. The amount of money you need to invest in the startup of a law firm will vary from person to person. There are many expenses you will have to cover that cannot be avoided. Here’s a list of many of the costs you can expect to pay to get your law firm started:

  • Accounting
  • Answering Service
  • Bank Fees
  • Bar fees and other organizational fees
  • Couriers
  • Insurance (for malpractice claims)
  • Employees
  • Employment Benefits
  • Entertainment Costs
  • Office Lease/Rent
  • Office Supplies
  • Office Furniture
  • Ongoing Legal Education
  • Telephone
  • Unemployment Tax
  • Website for Law Firm

The best way to tackle these necessary costs when starting a law firm is by creating a budget. Look at the bigger picture and develop a budget detailing the next few years. Break down your costs into initial start up (i.e. office supplies, marketing, furniture, etc.) and operating costs (i.e. office lease/rent, staff salaries, etc.).

Choosing a Business Structure for Your Law Firm

Now that you have considered the costs, your area of expertise, and finished all the items on the law firm checklist, it’s time to set up your business.

This part of setting up your law firm requires the legal structure of your business. Choose carefully as to which type you use for your law firm as it will affect various aspects of how you can operate as a business.

Here are the options available to your:

Types of Legal Structures

1. Sole Proprietorship

Starting a sole proprietorship is the most simple option available. In this legal structure, the business is owned and operated by one person (you) and they are liable for any of the business’ obligations.

  • You won’t have to file forms with the state, however they will be needed to obtain licenses and permits.
  • Owners are personally liable for the outcome of the business (i.e. debts)
  • Any income earned is reported on your personal income tax return.

This legal structure is ideal for it’s low cost and basic tax structures, however the unlimited liability and requirement to pay self-employment tax can become a burden. Take for example a client suing you for malpractice. You would be held accountable for any damages.

2. Partnership

A partnership requires two or more people who run and own the law firm. You can create a partnership as either general or limited and is typically governed by an agreed upon contract detailing the partners’ responsibilities

  • Each partner is personally responsible for the partnership’s obligations (for general partnerships).
  • Partners owe fiduciary duties to each other.
  • Taxes are reported and paid by each individual partner’s tax returns.

 Forming a partnership is a low cost and profitable solution for each partner. However, there as joint and several liabilities, sharing profits, and possible disputes between partners that can affect your law firm’s trajectory. If for any reason your partner is sued for malpractice or refuses to participate in some other contractual obligation, your can be held personally liable. The best way to protect yourself from this situation is to consider the next option.

3. Limited Liability Company (LLC)

 A limited liability company (llc) provides members with with protection from personal liability for debts and actions performed by the business, just like a corporation. The difference is that you can choose to be taxed as a partnership.

  • You will be required to file paperwork to your government
  • You will need an operating agreement outlining rights and responsibilities of the members and how the law firm will run
  • Taxes can be dealt with as either a partnership or a corporation

LLCs have the benefits of limited liability and the bookkeeping is less that a corporation. You may not be able to operate as an LLC and it will require research depending on where you live.

4. Corporation

A corporation is a unique, business entity that has limited liability and is owned by shareholders.

  • You will be required to file paperwork to your government
  • You must create bylaws that govern the entire operation of the corporation
  • You will be taxed when the corporation earns profit.

Corporations are taxed twice. First when the corporation earns profits and again when the dividends are distributed to the shareholders.

There are many variations in legal structure to choose from. Whether you are deciding to start your own solo law firm or joining with a partner, choose the right one that suits how you want to run your business and the local laws in your area. You could always start as a sole-proprietorship then upgrade later when your business picks up.

Marketing Your Law Firm

 At this point, you’re cash flow might be depleted but your law firm is ready to go. The next thing you will need to do to start your own law firm is: find clients.

Finding clients will come down to how effective your marketing strategy is, but also, how strong your connections and relationships are with those that know you. Getting a referral from someone who knows your potential makes for easy client acquisition. However, for those that are seeking for legal advice for the first time, they may not have a trusted friend to vouch for you.

Here’s some marketing ideas to help you turn cold connections into your new clients.

1. Announce Your Opening

At the start of your new law firm, send out high-quality announcements to everyone you know (close and distant). If you’ve chosen a niche practice, send it out to those in your local bar association. Don’t forget to send personalized letters to your friends and relatives too. This can be useful for obtaining your first few referred clients.

2. Join a Business Networking Group

There are somethings you can do, and some things you can’t. If you join a business networking group, there are all kinds of opportunities to be found. If there’s lawyers in your group from other areas of specialization, you can create a referral list for them in exchange for a referral list for your specialised legal practice.

3. Become a Public Speaker

If there’s a topic you’re passionate about or a legal issue you want to eliminate, arranging public speeches is a great way to become known in your community. Public speaking allows you to make direct connections with people from the knowledge you have. This type of community outreach lets you display your expertise and build trust in your profession.

4. Start A Blog

Similar to public speaking, consider this public writing. Starting a blog for your law firm is an ideal way to find new clients online. Web sites can receive a lot of traffic depending on how your website is set up and the quality of the content involved.

5. Provide Quality Work

It might sound strange, but you should be providing exceptional “customer” experience. You’re dealing with people and, people talk. Their experience with you, good or bad, has a good chance of being spread on social media and within personal groups. You should always provide your best work to develop a strong referral base and a list or long-term clients.

Struggling to start a law firm? Check out the Starting Your Own Law Firm Checklist.

8 Shady Tactics Vendors Use To Trap Small Firms (and How To Fight Back!)

When Katie (my wife) started her law firm a few years ago, we were excited. It was going to be an adventure! As she walked out of her big firm job that last day, it seemed like the possibilities were endless.

And then the calls started. And the emails. And the tricks. It was like someone had put an ad on Craigslist saying “Easy mark! Hock your wares with abandon!”

With each step she took to start her firm, filing corporate docs, purchasing a domain name, signing up for phone service, setting up IOLTA accounts, it got worse.

I’m sure you’ve experienced the routine (and if you’re thinking about starting your firm, just wait.)

Phone calls at all hours. Because hey, we wouldn’t want to cold call a potential prospect during their working hours like everyone else, we need to stand out! 7am it is! Putting your kids to bed? Nuh-uh, it’s time to talk document management!

A constant barrage of cold emails with generic pie in the sky offers about this and that. None of any substance, just begging you to get on a phone call so they can see how much budget they can extract from an unsuspecting new business owner.

And the junk mail! Oh the junk mail! Not just “hey you should know about this service” junkmail, but downright fraudulent junkmail. Junkmail saying you’re in violation of some law if you don’t talk to them, or that someone’s going to steal your domain name or your trademark in China. Each looking more official than the last.

It’s exhausting. And we’d had enough. There HAD to be some good actors around. But the more I searched, the more shadiness I came across.

I’d had enough. And it was time to do something about it. So when I started AmazeLaw, I vowed to be honest with my clients, to treat them fairly, to empathize with the fact that they’re not an entity to extract money from, they’re small business owners, just like me, struggling and working their tails off for a better life.

I’ll leave it to my customers and to you to determine if I’ve succeeded, but in an effort to combat the shadiness, here are * tactics vendors are using right now to try and screw over small firms under the guise of being helpful.

Red flags in abusive vendor relationships

These are the tactics that should immediately set off red flags. Now not all vendors who use these tactics are bad by default, but they should act as leading indicators for abusive relationships so proceed with caution.

Being secretive about pricing

What they’re thinking: Their goal with this tactic is to get you to call to figure out whether it’s even in your budget. They don’t trust that you’ll be able to see the value of the product on their own, so they want you to contact a script-reading junior sales rep to convince you that it’s worth shelling out your precious cash, and then pass you off to a closer (account executive.)

Also, it means they don’t have any pricing structure to adhere to. They’re free to tell you any price (often after learning how large your budget is.) So they’ll start high, and work down so you feel like you’re getting a deal, often with steep discounts that magically appear when you tell them you’re all set.

How you can take advantage: This is the first step in some aggressive sales BS. But, if you really think the product works well (maybe you’ve had a colleague recommend it), you have a bit of an advantage if you’re willing to play hardball.

Make frequent price objections, threaten to walk away. Then actually walk away. Hang up the phone and tell them you’re just not sure about the price. I promise you they’ll call back. And there’ll probably be a discount in it for you.

Requiring annual or multi-year contracts

What they’re thinking: We don’t trust that you’ll stick around long-term, so rather than giving you 12 chances per year to consider whether that line in your bank account is worth it, they’ll only give you one option, and they’ll put a customer retention specialist in touch with you to promise big things for the next year.

And of course they’ll probably have a notice clause in the contract requiring more than 30 or 60 days notice of cancellation before it automatically rolls over. So when you contact them to cancel a few weeks before it rolls over, you’re told you’re already locked up for another year and if you want to cancel, you’ll have to pay an exorbitant cancellation fee (if they even let you).

There also appears to be a trend in the marketing services space (SEO, PPC Ads, Content Generation, Lead Generators, Directories) to require a 3 or 6 month commitment (often at $1k+/mo.)

While not as costly as annual contracts, they’re inherently higher risk. As an excuse, the sales rep will tell you that it takes time to see results from a new marketing channel. And that’s true, to a point.

But any person worth working with, any person you trust, will be able to give you an honest assessment along the way and let you know whether it makes sense to keep moving forward. They’re just trying to force the decision rather than letting their service speak for itself.

If they don’t trust that you won’t leave after a month or two, it says something (everything?) about how much they trust their product.

Note – These scenarios are different from annual prepay/billing. Annual prepay (often with a discount) can make a lot of sense for you and for the vendor. It helps them with cashflow and it provides you with a) a discount and b) the ability to play with your tax burden a little bit. If you have a strong year and you’re not sure the next year will be so fruitful, paying for the next-year’s services in December will reduce your tax burden this year (assuming you’re using cash accounting.)

Obviously, I’m not an accountant, so that’s not financial advice. But I would advise setting up a standing meeting with your accountant every fall to go over your accounting and help make decisions like this while you still have time before the end of the year.

Now before you sign up for annual prepay, you should ensure that you’re not locked in. For example, we offer 2 months free for our clients that sign up for annual billing, but if they get six months in, we’ll send them a pro-rated refund.  They’re not locked in.

So be sure to ask what happens if you cancel half-way through your annual contract so you can correctly weigh your options.

How you should handle thisExcept in circumstances where the value is clear and you’ll clearly need it long term, I would run, not walk, away from these terms. Cash is king for a small business so don’t lock yourself up unless you’re absolutely sure it’s worth it. And make sure you ask if they have…

Early cancellation fees

What they’re thinking: This is usually paired with those big annual contracts. It’s nothing more than a way to make you question your decision to cancel and extract a little more cash on your way out the door. It’s extortion, pure and simple.

AmazeLaw is actually a rare business where a customer leaving actually costs us time and money. It takes a lot of time and effort to move a website. And even we don’t have cancellation fees. We’ll lose money. That’s our punishment for not meeting our clients’ needs, and our incentive to do better. Thankfully it doesn’t happen very often.

What you can do: Honestly, not much. You can try to negotiate your contract at the beginning, but that’s about all you can ask for. But before you do that, you should probably question why they need that clause in the first place and if that’s someone you want to work with or trust a part of your business to.

Owning your domain

This is specific to website providers but it’s egregious enough that I need to call it out. Some providers insist that they control the domain name for your website. Claiming that it’s easier if they register it. That they’ll make sure it’s always renewed.

What they’re thinking: If they own your domain name, you can’t go anywhere. In order to move your website, you’ll need a new domain name and you’ll give up all of the SEO you’ve built up. What’s more, you’ll need to update all of your business cards, potentially your email address, etc. It’s just another form of extortion to keep you from canceling.

What you should do: DO NOT DO IT. Register your domain under an account you (and only you) control. Make sure you sign up for auto-renewal. I usually recommend Namecheap or Dynadot (GoDaddy is ok too because they’re ubiquitous, but they have some questionable tactics of their own I recommend my clients avoid.) If they insist, run away.

Controlling your phone number

This is just like controlling your domain name. And with the rise in importance of local search and its reliance on consistent Name-Address-Phone Number (NAP) for rankings, it’s gotten even worse. Having a different phone number on your website than the one you have on your business cards, or in the phone book is a big no no.

What you should do: There should only be one phone number for your business, and it should reside with your telephone service provider.

Acting as the middleman between you and your clients

That phone number control is often used as part of a feature called call-tracking, an attempt to funnel all website leads through a proprietary system. Of course that assumes that your leads want to call you. Some vendors even go so far as to not put an email address on your website, forcing the visitor to either pick up the phone or fill out a generic form that connects to their system and their system only.

In addition to being yet another lock-in tactic so that you don’t lose your contacts, it kills conversions and virtually guarantees that your prospect moves on to the attorney that allows contact via whatever means the prospect is most comfortable with.

What you should demand: You need to own your communication with your clients. Any barrier that’s put between you and your clients is not worth whatever low-volume metrics you might be able to pull out of your marketing vendor.

Promising the moon

This is pretty straightforward. An over-eager salesperson making empty promises to hit their monthly quota. Sometimes it’s subtle, but when you start to think maybe they’re being a little too generous with their predictions here’s a tip…

How can you use this? If you’re wondering if they’re pulling the wool over your eyes, then a surefire way to tell is by using a trap question.

Take the vendor’s pitch to the extreme, ask them if that’s a typical result. For example, for a company building a website or an SEO firm, ask them if this product will get you on the first page of Google. For a lead gen product, ask if you’ll get at least 5 qualified, high-quality leads every month.

Of course, if they say yes, ask for the names of two or three clients that have had those outcomes so that you can speak to them about their experience. And then watch the excuses fly. They’ll say that they don’t disclose client information.

You can even ask for a guarantee. That you can request a refund if those results aren’t met. That’s almost always a no-go on their part, but at this point the deal’s probably over so have some fun and watch them try to justify why they can’t 🙂

If they say no, that those results might be possible but that they aren’t typical, that’s actually a positive sign. Ask them under what circumstances you could expect to see those results. Ask them what the typical results actually are. If they’re honest about the conditions where the solution works and where it doesn’t, they believe in what they’re selling and it might be worth trying as well.

But again, ask for two or three references that would be willing to back that experience up.

Not being willing to provide references

Here’s what they’re thinking: A lot of the legal marketing vendors out there are entirely based on pump’n’dump schemes, where they sell all of the attorneys in a given area on a product, then move on, like locusts. They know after their initial contract term, 90% of the clients that remember to check their billing statements will cancel, but they don’t care. Their job is to get folks signed up as quickly as possible, on the longest terms possible.

In those scenarios, it’s really hard to find a long-term customer that’s willing to speak with prospects. And if there’s only a handful of them and they’re selling at scale, they just can’t afford to send hundreds of reference requests to each attorney that offers.

Here’s the cold hard truth. If a vendor doesn’t have at least a few attorneys literally raving about their experience, then it’s probably a no-go. After all, by the law of large numbers alone, there should be outliers that are having success. Even if they can’t give you a phone number, they should be able to send you case studies of successful clients. And often from there, you can do some basic Googling to find  the subject’s contact information if you need to verify their story.

What about you?

Have you seen these tricks in the wild? How have you dealt with them? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments!

Tired of being played?

If you need help with your marketing, but were really hoping to avoid all of those tactics, let’s chat and we’ll help you get off to a great start!

Schedule a Demo Today