Category Archives: Marketing

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

Cheap web design on the side of the road is NOT the way to go.

How Much Should A Law Firm Website Cost?

It can be pretty daunting trying to figure out how much to spend on a law firm website these days.  There are companies charging tens of thousands of dollars and promising the moon, and there’s always your cousin’s friend from college who would do it for a case of beer and a bucket of chicken.

Sometimes it helps to just set some expectations.  Your mileage may vary according to your goals, your geographic region etc, but here are some ballpark figures that will give you a good sense for what you should get for your dollar, and help you figure out just how much you can afford to spend.

So let’s kick this off at the bottom.

Less than $500

The old adage goes, you get what you pay for.  This bucket usually contains either family friend discounts, students doing the work, or your run of the mill website builder like GoDaddy or Wix.

If your goal is just to have a site that you can point people to, and don’t intend to do online marketing, blogging, lead collection etc, this might be the way to go.  Be careful here though.  A lot of times the website builders are loss-leaders for the business.  For example, GoDaddy makes the website builder cheap to get you to do your web, email and domain hosting with them, which often ends up being a more expensive and lower quality offering than going out and getting decent options separately.

For example, I use DNSimple for domain and DNS hosting. I can’t recommend them enough. And for email hosting, $50/year for Google Apps is an absolute steal.

$500 – $1500

This is a tough range.  It’s tough because it’s likely that you could find someone to do the work for the price, but it’s going to be very difficult to judge the quality beforehand.  A developer that’s worth their salt will be able to charge A LOT more than this, so here, you’re typically dealing with local developers that might not be around very long. You want someone that will be around 2 or 3 years from now and who can answer an email at the drop of a hat if there’s a problem.  Now, if you’re willing to take a bit of the management tasks on, you could probably find a very talented international developer on oDesk that could do a great job for this price.

$1500 – $5000

This is what I would consider the sweet spot for most solos.  In this range you can get a good developer to do a basic site that’ll cover the bases for most of you.

When I say “cover the bases” I mean:

  • Uses a nice responsive theme (looks great on mobile devices)
  • Uses a Content Management System like WordPress or Drupal. Avoid hard-coded sites as you’ll need to contact your developer any time you need a change.
  • Has a BUILT-IN blog (I saw a recent post that suggested attorneys should have a separately branded blog. That is such terrible advice that I would consider it dangerous.)
  • Uses best-practices like semantic markup to make your site more easily parseable by search engines.
  • Basic setup with Google (Google Analytics, Google Authorship)
  • Can offer limited tech support for the foreseeable future.
  • A classic looking, basic typographic logo if you don’t have one yet.
  • Redirects from your existing site if you have one. Basically, make sure that anyone linking to your existing site ends up on a relevant page on your new site.  Without this, any SEO clout you’ve built up will disappear.
  • And the ability to walk you through how to do basic edits (like writing blog posts) yourself.

What you likely won’t get at this price point:

  • Custom photography
  • Custom graphic design (the theme you use will be the “web designer”)
  • Custom copy
  • Comprehensive branding

$5000+

Once you go over $5k, the sky really is the limit.  You could get a custom graphic designer to do a completely custom design just for you.  You could get a marketing consultant to do your bidding.  Really, at this price range, it’ll be really confusing because it’ll likely be a much larger to-do.  There might be an law firm SEO consultant or an AdWords consultant.  All of these things can be positives, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed and there’s a lot of sharks at that price point that’ll promise you the world and never deliver.  If you’re spending that kind of money, make sure you get references and demand quantifiable proof that the investment was worth it.  If they’re good, it’ll be more than evident.

Whatever you decide make sure the following:

Make sure that your domain name is registered under an account you can access yourself and that it’s registered TO YOU.  As I mentioned, I really like DNSimple for this.  They’re great people and they make managing domains really simple without some of the spammier upsell practices of companies like GoDaddy.  Also, don’t let your developer own this account.  If he’s out of business in 2 years, you’ll have a really hard time getting control of your domain (if you can at all).

Be wary of SEO sharks that mention link-building or keyword density when pitching SEO services.  SEO is almost entirely based on writing good content that answers questions that people want answered.  There is very little left that can “game” the system.  Anyone that tells you they can get to the first page of Google for something like “DUI attorney Nashville, TN” and doesn’t immediately follow it up with a year-long content strategy is selling you a bag of goods.

Make sure you understand the ins and outs of your Content Management System before you sign off on the project.  If you’re not completely comfortable with the process of updating your practice area pages or writing a blog post, you never will, and that’s the quickest way to make your investment depreciate like an abandoned house.

When in doubt, feel free to ask for help. I see all of the shady stuff targeting my wife’s practice and I want to scream, so I’m happy to share unbiased advice.

I hope that clears up some of the confusion in the space.  If you have any questions, feel free to let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them…

 

Photo Credit: Mario Carvajal used under CC

Your Guide to Finding the Best Topics For Your Law Firm Blog

One of the hardest things about law blogging is consistently coming up with topics that resonate with your audience.

Are you struggling to find decent topics for your blog?

Does it feel a bit like reading the tea leaves?

It doesn’t have to. In fact, today I’m going to share with you several ways to find the best topics for your blog, no divination necessary.

Would you like a list of potential topics for your legal blog? Check this out!

Know Your Clients

Understanding who your clients are and what they want most is the first step to finding relevant topics for your law blog. Your blog should serve as a resource of information for your target client. So, the first question to answer is:

Who is your target client?

You may specialize in real estate law, and more specifically landlord tenant law. If you do, come up with housing law topics that these types of clients would be most interested in. These topics may include posts on landlord rights, tenant rights, how to terminate a lease in your state, the eviction process, and/or privacy laws.

It’s tempting to make general and superficial posts that only parrot state law and not much else. However, I recommend that you challenge yourself to give a thorough treatment of each topic that you tackle in your blog. The reason is that your blog will serve as a marketer for your services. If a prospective client comes to your blog via a Google search and finds it useful and authoritative, he or she will view you as someone who:

  • Knows the law
  • Knows the problem the client is facing
  • Knows the solution

You need all of these three components to build trust with your prospective clients. By creating in depth blog posts that appeal to what your specific clients need at the moment, you’re showing them that you know who they are and what they’re going through. That’s the beauty of a blog post done right.

Not sure what type of content your target clients want to know about? Here are a few questions to help you figure it out:

  • What is the most important concern for your clients?
  • What law-related questions do they search on the Internet?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • What are the most common questions you get from your clients asked over and over again?

Make a list of the answers to these questions, and you’ll start to see a list of potential blog topics develop. Then, start generating blog post idea around each topic. It may help you to break each blog topic down into a series of questions. Keeping with the landlord tenant example earlier, here’s what the process may look like:

Topic:
Security Deposit

Potential Blog Posts:
Is a security deposit the same as last month’s rent?
How much can a landlord deduct from my security deposit for cleaning?
How can I dispute a security deposit deduction?
When should I expect my security deposit?

Ask Your Clients

If you already have an established audience, don’t miss the opportunity to ask them what type of content they’re most interested in. Periodically poll them to research future blog topics from the exact audience you’re hoping to reach. Use all the channels available to you to discover the learn about the topics your audience wants to learn about.

Let’s discuss where you can survey your clients, and how.

Survey Your Site Visitors

Did you know that you can ask for blog post feedback right on your site? My favorite way to do this is with a tool called SurveyMonkey, although there are plenty of other great options available. I like SurveyMonkey because the first 10 questions and 100 responses are free, and if you need more, they have an affordable monthly pricing plan, too.

With SurveyMonkey, you have the option to embed the survey on your blog, show a quick popup survey, or invite readers to participate in a longer survey.

For the purposes of idea generation, I’d recommend keeping it short. Go with the embed survey or quick popup survey.

Survey Your Email Subscribers

If you have an email list, let’s put them to work. You can send surveys along with your newsletter. Directions vary depending on your email newsletter service provider. However, if you use MailChimp, SurveyMonkey integrates perfectly.

Follow the instructions here to create and send your email subscribers a link to your survey.

Ask Your Followers on Social Media

SurveyMonkey to the rescue again!

In your survey creation dashboard, select the “Collect Responses” tab to determine how you’ll gather answers to your survey. In this case, select “Post on Social Media”. This option will give you a short link that you can post across all of your social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.

surveymonkey collect responsesImage Courtesy of SurveyMonkey

What Should You Ask?

The next step is deciding what to ask. I suggest you go with a multiple choice. Ask something like, “What type of blog posts would you like to read from us in the future? We’d love to hear your thoughts!” Then, give them a choice list of between three to five blog post topics.

Analyze Which Blog Posts Do Best

Another way you can find out which blog posts resonate best with your audience is to look at the data. There are two ways to do this:

If you already have content on your blog, take a look at your blog’s analytics. Which posts are the most popular?

The second option is to discover which blog posts do well for your competitors. Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find out which posts are the most shared. Search for a keyword phrase related to the topics you feel most qualified to write about. In this example, I’ll use the phrase “landlord tenant law”.

buzzsumo landlord tenantImage Courtesy of BuzzSumo

With BuzzSumo, you can narrow the search field by date, such as past year, week, or within the last 24 hours. You can also find out the latest news surrounding a topic (more on this below).

Other Ways to Source Blog Topics

Let’s discuss other ways to generate topics for your blog.

Let the News Guide You

Is there some interesting case that’s popular in the news right now? Analyze a hot topic case for your blog. You can highlight it as a cautionary tale, add your expert opinion on the facts of the case, or attach a do and don’t guide to help readers who may be in a similar circumstance.

Another idea is to discuss new laws or trends that affect your clients that they may not be aware of. Consider yourself a teacher who simplifies the often complex issues in the law by using stories to illustrate your point.

Create a Regular Series

You can create a regular post series on your blog such as “Ask a Lawyer” or “Your Legal Questions Answered.” Once a month, answer a commonly asked question. Hey, when you think about it– it’s only 12 questions a year, but you can cover a lot of ground.

Another benefit to creating a series around commonly asked questions is now you’ll have a place to direct those questions when they come through your email and social media. You can even link to them on forums, too.

Visit Legal Forums

Another great way to find topics for your blog is to scour legal forums. Look for popular questions that are asked (even if they’ve already been answered). To determine the popularity of a particular question, look at the amount of views it has received. This indicates that a lot of people have a vested interest in the same topic.

expertlaw viewsImage Courtesy of ExpertLaw

You probably know quite a few legal forums already, but these are among the most active:

If you’d like more information on creating an engaging blog, check out this post here: 8 Steps to Creating a Law Firm Blog that People Want to Read.

Remember to download our list of potential topics for your legal blog!

.attorney vs .lawyer vs .com domains. What Should Small Law Firms Do?

There are a couple of new top level domains that are opening up for registration in the next few weeks, and the announcement has attorneys wondering what, if anything, should they do?

What’s the deal?

Well first, let’s talk about what the change is.  Around 2006, ICANN, the governing body for domain names on the internet started taking bids for new generic top level domains (gTLDs).  Since most lucrative and/or useful domains have been taken up by domain squatters and the occasional legit business, folks welcomed the opportunity to get a branded domain name that was relevant to their business.

So, they offered companies and investors the chance to own and manage new top level domains.  Some of them are innocuous (.ceo, .bike, .directory, .beer), some are scandalous (.sexy, .xxx), and some are just industry specific (.plumbing, .attorney, .lawyer).

What makes the .attorney and .lawyer gTLDs interesting, is that they are intended to act like the .gov, .edu, and .mil “sponsored” top level domains.  Sponsored TLDs act as a signal of trust since not just anyone can get one of those domains.  You need to meet a managing body’s criteria. In the former, you need to prove you’re an attorney (or attending an accredited law school), and in the latter, you need to be a government, educational institution or branch of military service.

That’s the theory anyways.

Without going into the threat this imposes on existing ethics regulators (a threat that Carolyn Elefant covers in depth in her post “Should Lawyers Mark A Spot With With a Domain Dot – And Will Ethics Regulators Say Yay or Not?“) it’s important to note that even if regulators embrace the new gTLDs, the real question is whether potential clients will.

I’ve always considered sites with the newer TLDs as somewhat suspect.  It’s not a perfect system, but the fact that you need to pay a decent amount of money for a great .com domain is such a good filter that it tends to cloud my judgement when it comes to trusting other domains.

At least, that’s my bias.  But I’m not one to assume that everyone is like me.  I’m a computer nerd by trade, and as such have a fairly biased opinion when it comes to technology in general.

Enter real data…

Instead, I ran an experiment to find out for real, whether the regulated TLDs accomplish the task of inspiring trust in normal, everyday folk.

Here’s how it worked.  Using Google’s awesome Consumer Surveys tool, I asked a simple question of 100 people.  If you were looking to hire an attorney, based only on the domain name, who would you choose?

  • www.john-smith-law.com
  • www.johnsmith.lawyer
  • www.johnsmith.attorney

The idea for those three is based on the following scenario.  Let’s assume you’re trying to find a domain for your solo firm.  And let’s say you have a fairly common name where you can’t get the exact johnsmith.com or johnsmithlaw.com (because if you can, you should do that right now and stop reading.)

You might then consider, do I get my exact match domain with .attorney or .lawyer instead?  Will that get more clients to trust me?

Well, survey says…

Overall, I was surprised by the results. I thought the .com would absolutely trounce the gTLDs and that appears to be absolutely wrong.

.attorney and .com lead the way.
Turns out, while almost noone prefered the .lawyer domain, .attorney actually appears to hold roughly equal to slightly more trust than .com when you take into account the error margins in the survey.

Here’s the preliminary result:

.lawyer vs .attorney vs. .com trust

Younger folks prefer .com, older folks, .attorney
While that’s the general population, it’s interesting that there are fairly heavy splits when it comes to the age of the recipient. Something that might be useful to know for all your elder law folks out there.

age_split

Upper income clients still prefer .com
If your clients tend to be wealthier, or you hope to get more wealthier clients, it’s interesting to note that upper income individuals still prefer the .com.

Upper income folks seem to prefer .com dmoains ober .attorney and .lawyer

Upper income folks seem to prefer .com dmoains ober .attorney and .lawyer

Want to analyze the data for your target clients?
If you want to comb through the data to see what your target clients might prefer, head on over to the Google survey results page and tinker to your heart’s content.

And if you think this data is bunk, or if you want more info for your own purposes, this survey is set for 100 responses and only cost $10. You can set one up yourself and target the results by geographic region and income, and you’ll have the results in a few days.

I see the data, so what should I do?

Well first, don’t panic. It might seem like there’s a great gold rush out there for these domain names, but the population that uses them is tiny (relative to other TLDs) and an even smaller fraction will actually purchase the domains. And since switching and/or deciding on a domain is a BIG deal, don’t make the decision rashly.

Should I switch to a .attorney domain?
Probably not, definitely not right away, and MOST DEFINITELY, not without some professional help.

There are a number of things to consider when considering a domain switch. You’ll need to consider the cost of replacing any marketing collateral you own like business cards, pamphlets etc.

You’ll need to perform an audit of your existing site to make sure any and all pages on your site are redirected to the new domain properly (for any site with more than 5 pages, seek professional help with this).

You’ll need to update all of your DNS records to match the old domain so things like email will still work… in other words, it’s not as simple as just changing your domain.

Should I register my existing domain with the .attorney and .lawyer TLDs?
If you have $35-$100 burning a hole in your pocket and it would make you feel better to have them just in case, go ahead and buy them. But remember, if you buy both at $35, that’s $70 every single year you own them.

But what if I want to prevent someone else from registering them?
Unless you’re a giant brand with money to spare, this is generally a false worry. First of all, as a small law firm, you’re not big enough for most squatters to care about.

Second, unless the squatter commits to building content in your niche, search engines will never find the squatter’s site anyways.

And thirdly, if you’re concerned about someone coming along and registering a domain just to bad mouth you or your firm, well, the only way to prevent that is to buy up every gTLD out there, and that’s going to cost you a whole lot of money just to prevent a hypothetical.

However… one case where I’d consider squatting is if your firm is hyper personalized and your name is reasonably common. For example, if you own “marystevens.com” or “marystevenslaw.com”, consider picking up “marystevens.attorney” and “marystevens.lawyer” as building a little moat around your personal brand is important when you have a common name.

I am just starting out, should I go .com or .attorney?
Based on the data, it looks like we can rule out .lawyer. And if you can get a decent .com with no dashes, go that route for sure.

But, if you found a really nice .attorney domain in a competitive niche, like say “nydefense.attorney” or “thepersonalinjury.attorney” go for it! Given that it appears that the trust is there, it can’t hurt.

But, one thing to consider is whether having the singular “attorney” or “lawyer” as a domain name will be limiting if you want to grow your firm. The domain seems to imply a single individual, and that might become an issue down the road if you suddenly have a couple of associates or additional partners.

I already registered the domains, if I don’t switch, what should I use them for?
First, redirect them to your existing site by using a CNAME or URL record with your DNS provider. I know that’s really techy, so if you need help, just email me.

Second, if you’re not changing your primary domain, do not use your new domains for things like email or other branding materials. Besides confusing your clients, it also confuses google into thinking there really are two sites and that hurts your SEO.

Should I buy up domains for multiple practice areas?
Not unless you’re creating separate sites for each and have the time to maintain them.

Just owning the domains and pointing them all at your existing site won’t really make a difference for your site traffic. Google will only recognize those domains if you actually have content on them and have links coming in using the new domains. And since it’s highly unlikely that any consumer is going to type “newyorkpersonalinjury.attorney” into their browser bar without some sort of marketing material to prompt them, you won’t get any additional direct traffic either.

But what if I’m squatting, hoping to sell the domains to other attorneys?
Well, sorry to be the one to say it, but you’re the reason we can’t have nice things (like reasonable .com domains.)

That’s it! Any more questions?

If you like this kind of no-nonsense marketing advice for solo and small firm attorneys, sign up for our marketing bootcamp where you’ll get one email every week with easy to digest marketing plans that let you get back to being a lawyer.

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Your Ultimate Guide to Getting More Referrals

How do I get more referrals?

Wow, what a question. It’s the single most important question you’ll ask when starting and growing your law firm.

Fortunately, I’ve got the answer. Below, I’m giving you the ultimate guide to getting quality referrals for your law firm. Even if you’re a complete beginner, here are the best tips to growing your law firm through word of mouth marketing. Let’s get started.

Network

play-stone-1237497_640Network with anybody you can get in front of. This includes fellow attorneys for sure, but also expands beyond your colleagues.

Consider networking with other small business owners in your area, too. These small business owners have access to a wide group of customers along with their own friends and family.

If you’ve niched down and offer specialized services, consider reaching out to businesses within that industry. Establish relationships with them. For example, if you specialize in prenups, you should cozy up to wedding planners. It’s a congruent relationship that makes sense.

Join groups online and in person, too. LinkedIn and Facebook are great places to start. But you can also contact your local chamber of commerce to find out about area events and social hours where you can mingle.

If the word “mingle” gives you the hives, I get it. Believe me, I get it. But if you want more clients, you’ve got to put yourself out there and be personable. Putting yourself out there is quite frankly the only way to get more exposure and earn referrals.

Here’s a list of networking tips to help you get more referrals.
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Make Customer Service a Top Priority

Even if you’re a one-person-shop, your customer service should be second to none. It doesn’t cost anything to smile, be friendly, and respond in a prompt and professional manner. And it doesn’t cost much to hire someone else to do it for you, if you find that you’re too busy to answer phones, make coffee, and meet with prospective clients.

When you make the client a priority and go out of your way to offer outstanding service, you’ll find that your current clients are more willing to recommend you to their friends and family.

Be a Referrer

It sounds counterintuitive— you want to get referrals, not give them. But there’s so much truth in the old saying, “scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.” If you find yourself with a client that’s not the right fit, don’t hold onto them— that’s not going to serve them or you. Instead, send them to someone who’s right for them.

This will do 3 things:

  1. It will free you up for a client that makes more sense for your law firm.
  1. It will build trust with that referred client. He may not need your services now, but he’ll definitely remember you if he needs your services in the future. Plus, you’re demonstrating that on the scale of trustworthy to money-grubbing, you’re leaning way over to the trustworthy side. You’re not just taking them on because you want the money. You’re passing them on to the right person.
  1. You will ingratiate yourself to your fellow attorney you sent the client to. Now, the attorney will be in your debt, and much more likely to send you clients, too.

Woo Your Current Clients

When you have a client, he or she is worth his weight in gold. Not only are they willing to pay you for your service, they’re also have the potential to advertise yours services to their own circle of influence.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to groom them as potential referrers.

And, not just when they’re in your office. Keep in contact with your clients throughout the year. Keep it simple and send a card to commemorate birthdays, holidays, or anniversaries. Make yourself a part of their family. This will keep you at the top of your clients’ minds, so that when the time comes, they’ll be ready to pass your name to their friends and family.

Simply Ask Your Clients

Although I recommend nurturing your clients, there’s no shame in simply asking your clients to refer you straight out. The best time to do so is after successfully rendering a service. This is the time when they’re happy with you and willing to evangelize on your behalf.

Be Specific With Your Ask

When asking for referrals, don’t be vague. Be clear about what type of client you want. For example, if you’re interested in finding musicians to represent, ask your network if they know that specific type of client.

Thank Referrers

Don’t forget to thank those who’ve referred clients to you– this way, they’ll do it again! Whether clients, fellow attorneys, or others that you’ve networked with, send them a small token of your appreciation. Food gifts (cookies, cupcakes, dave and harry pears, omaha steaks, you name it) are always great. It’s a folksy way of saying thank you.

Take Advantage of Avvo

avvo(1)Image Courtesy of Avvo

Avvo is a crucial part of marketing yourself online. As we discussed in our ultimate guide to Avvo (that you can read here), many prospects turn to Avvo to research potential attorneys. Users rely heavily on Avvo’s review system to decide which attorney is right for them.

As you see, Avvo can serve as both an advertiser and a referral source for you.

Be Social

Believe it or not, social media can work as a superstar referral agent for you. Think about it: you’ve got access to a whooping one billion members through Facebook alone.

Use paid ads to extend your reach on social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and more.

If you don’t want to pay for ads yet, you can still make it through organic reach on video channels like YouTube and, to a lesser extent, Vimeo. Make a video to attract clients (we show you how here), and then enjoy the influx of social referrals who would’ve never known about you otherwise.

Buy Radio and TV Spots

if you can afford it, why not go for the gusto and pay for a radio ad, a tv commercial, or both? Depending on your market, it may not be as expensive as you think. For example, a radio ad in Miami, FL may be $1500, but one in Pensacola, FL may only be $250.

Also, prices vary based on what time you’d like for the ad to run. A rush hour spot may be much more expensive than at mid-evening.

The benefits of running radio or TV ads are that you will open yourself up to your community at large. It’s another level of market saturation that can positively impact your referral efforts.

Final Thoughts

Referrals are the bread and butter of most law practices. Use these tips to build up your referral network and bring in more clients. If you’d like ongoing advice on getting clients, and growing your law firm, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

Here’s a list of networking tips to help you get more referrals.

 

Find Stunning Free Images For Your Next Law Firm Blog Post

Just about every law firm blog post needs an image. At the very least, it’s a nice visual introduction to your post. But finding high-quality photos that are free and not likely to get you busted for copyright infringement is tough.

After all, when you pull out Google Image search, besides the dubious quality, it’s hard to tell if you have the right to use the image. And it’s likely that you don’t.

Here’s how to find a high-quality, free-to-use image for your blog post.

The long story short is that we use Flickr’s Creative Commons image search to find photos that are licensed to be used for commercial use, providing you attribute the author. Then we show you how to correctly add that attribution to your blog post.

Here’s a quick video to see how to add a great looking image to a WordPress blog post in just a few minutes, and how to add the same image to an AmazeLaw blog post in just a few seconds 🙂

Not too shabby huh? It’s fairly easy and yields great results that aren’t likely to get you sued.

See how easy AmazeLaw makes it?

That’s our whole purpose, to make marketing your firm as dead-simple as possible.

If you want to spend more time being a lawyer, and less time tinkering in HTML…

Schedule a Free Demo Today

 

Should A Lawyer Have A Blog?

If you already own a website, why should a lawyer have a blog?

Nowadays, when people have a problem they immediately turn to Google and other search engines to find the answer. The way things work online, a few words or phrases are typed into the search bar and websites that best match it will show up.

For certain legal concerns, you may see searches like this:

  • Wife wants divorce
  • Can my brother sue me
  • What do I do if I get arrested?

In these situations, having a blog and writing about the legal perspective can bring more visitors to your website and potentially lead to new clients.

To achieve this, you will need to write articles with headlines like the following:

  • 7 Things You Must Do When Your Wife Wants A Divorce
  • What To Do When Your Brother (Or Family) Wants To Sue You
  • How Your Arrest Will Affect You And Your Family

Blogging is a powerful tool that takes time, commitment and a little online knowledge to make it work. Here’s a few things lawyers starting a blog should know.

Guidelines For A Lawyer’s Blog

You may not be a web designer, but there are a few things you should know if you intend to provide your thoughts, ideas, and professional advice online. A website is just like your office space: the way it is organized, the overall aesthetic, and the level of professionalism all play a part in whether people will stick around or click away.

Here are a few guidelines to consider when it comes to lawyer’s having an online blog:

  1. Create a responsive website. Many people are navigating the online world from a smart device. This means that your lawyer website has to be 100% responsive and mobile friendly. When it comes to the design elements on the page, keep it simple and keep it clean. And, don’t over complicate the language. People from all kinds of backgrounds will be reaching out to your online. Using simple, everyday language will be the best way to connect with potential clients.
  2. Have a clear way to contact you. There is a purpose to providing a website and this is amplified by adding a blog. Whenever you have visitors coming to your site, your contact information should be clear and distinct. Visitors should be able to send an email with ease or touch your number causing it to instantly dial. Reducing the level of frustrations on your website and in your blog will make the experience that much better in the palm of their hand.
  3. Educate your prospective clients. The main purpose of blogging is to exemplify your professional and answer any questions they may have. The information you provide is often the best place to begin a relationship with you. They can get to know who you are, what you offer, and how you think. Your blog is the place to build trust so that the consultation can happen without any doubts and uncertainties.
  4. Answer questions and solve problems. You might think that there is already a lot of information on the web and as a lawyer, it may be a waste of time to be blogging about it. Your competitors may be hundreds of articles ahead of you and you keep wondering why they continue to get more and more clients. Start blogging. This is an investment in your services and the easiest way to get started is by answering the most common questions your previous clients have asked you before. When people are coming to you online, they are hoping you have the answers to your problems, which the only way you can prove to them that you have it is by writing a blog.
  5. Add special offers. As a lawyer with a blog, this is a great opportunity to attract new clients. One of the best way to do this can be done by offering a free initial consultation. Inside your blog as well as on the side, you can create banners and advertisements that tell your visitors they can sign up for a risk-free, no obligation and no money consultation. Or, perhaps you are doing something special and offer flexible phone consultations.

 SEO Benefits Of Blogging

There’s a few things behind the scenes that lawyers should know about blogging. If you’re unfamiliar with how websites work and how Google shows your website to people searching you could be wasting your time blogging online.

Here’s a little summary of lawyer SEO and how a lawyer that blogs can benefit from it.

  1. More authority. There are elements of your website that determine your overall “web authority.” This is known as Domain Authority (DA) and is ranked on a 100-point-scale. Websites that provide more content will have a higher DA which boosts their rankings in the search engines.
  2. More web pages. Whenever you publish a new blog post, you are expanding the depth and details of your website. Each page URL gets indexed by Google and other search engines which increases your likelihood of being found and is supported by all other benefits found in this list.
  3. More Links. Links are an important variable that determines how well you are ranked. When you link out from your site to another authority site, Google recognizes this. However, when you link to other pages on your own website, this too is counted toward your overall ranking. Blogging gives you the chance to greatly enhance the quality of your site and give it that added boost.
  4. More trust. Many people are seeking solutions to their problems online. If you can position yourself in a way that provides online advice and trusted information, this too helps your ranking. Google tends to favor sites that give visitors trusted information that people actually need. Having a blog will provide that added trust that other websites lack.
  5. More traffic. Publishing regularly will allow you to generate significantly more traffic to your website, and ultimately, to your legal services. Google will often refer people using its search engine to sites that are active and consistently providing relevant and trusting content.
  6. More long tail keywords. Keyword stuffing (i.e. using a common keyword or phrase over and over again in an article) can lead to Google penalties. When you are blogging with quality, original content, you will end up with much more “long tail keywords” in on your website. Over time, this will increase your chances that you will be able to answer specific problems that prospective clients are seeking for online.
  7. More user experience. Google wants people to have the best user experience. To ensure this, Google expects websites to provide visitors with real answers and solutions to their problems. This will be measured by the amount of time people are spending on your website. If many people are leaving, you site is likely not the solution. However, that’s where blogging can help.
  8. More SEO. Blogging is content marketing. And, when you are blogging you are directing your content to a specific, target audience. In doing this, you are already creating the right SEO conditions to succeed online and the more you publish the more you can expect will return.

The Value Of Blogging As A Lawyer

Aside from the technical benefits your website receives with having a blog, there is considerable value when a lawyer blogs.

Take these into consideration:

  1. Save time and improves services. Imagine dealing with a client who didn’t do a background check and they continue to ask basic questions before even getting to a consultation. Having content in your blog is a quick and simple resource to redirect inquiries to the answers they are looking for. After they get the information they need, the next steps can be made with less hassle.
  2. You get noticed more. You already learned a little about the influence that Google has, however, if the information your provide is truly valuable, it’s going to be shared. When a lawyer has a blog and they can connect with the needs of people experiencing legal conflict, it’s quite common that they will share this advice with their friends and family.  Blogging allows you to share your experience and expertise as well as provide trust and support for those in a legal crisis.
  3. Perfect for advertising and announcements. Another great advantage for a lawyer to have a blog is that you can showcase your past successes. Perhaps your firm was featured in the news for a big case, or you were appointed an award in your community. Posting an update about this and sharing this online gives your website that dynamic edge and professional appeal.

There are all kinds of reasons for a lawyer to have a blog. However, as a final note, the most important reason for any lawyer to start blogging, whether you are a fresh our of law school, an experienced attorney, or a retired judge, is that you can continually develop and hone the legal skills as a lawyer.

Why Google’s Cracking Down On Non Mobile-Friendly Sites And What Attorneys Need To Do

You may have heard whisperings that Google is going to be cracking down on non-mobile-friendly websites starting April 21st.

That’s absolutely correct.

For a while now they’ve been keeping track of whether sites are optimized for small screens and slow data connections. Up until now they haven’t changed any of the rankings based on that information and instead, just show a little “Mobile-friendly” label on search results when searching from your mobile device.

But now, they’re taking the next step, and using mobile-friendly as a ranking signal when someone searches for your firm on a mobile device. We don’t know how much it will affect rankings just yet (but we’re watching closely and will report as soon as we can measure it), but we know that it will drop rankings for searches from mobile devices, and it’s expected to drop them considerably.

What does that mean for you?

Well, it depends on if your site is mobile-optimized. Here’s a link to check if your site is mobile-friendly. If it is, then you should be all set.

But if it’s not, come on back here and we’ll discuss the options you have for avoiding the Google hammer in a few weeks.

So here’s the link to Google’s mobile-friendly tester.

Go check your site and see if Google thinks it’s mobile-friendly. I’ll wait.

How’d you do? Did your site pass?

It passed!

That’s awesome. Gold star for you! You may want to read ahead though to see if one of the other options here might be a better option for you.

It didn’t pass?

Don’t worry all is not lost. Consider this a bit of a wake-up call. After all, you still have a little time to right the ship, so to speak.

First of all, these changes won’t affect your rankings when someone searches for your firm on their desktop. Which, is still somewhere around 75% of search traffic in the US depending on whose stats you use.

But, that still means you’ll start to lose out on 1/4 of your traffic.

A better way to think about this might be to consider the following scenario. Let’s say a potential client just got into a cab when they received an email from a friend referring your firm to fix their problem. The first thing they’ll do is google you or your firm.

If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, your firm website might not be right there in the first spot in their search results. Instead, they might see your Avvo profile (which you may or may not have done anything with). Or maybe they’ll see a complaint a bitter client left on a review site.

All that effort crafting your brand and your message, and it’s all for naught because your site wasn’t the first one listed.

Obviously, that’s not a great place to be in. So it begs the question…

“How do I make my site mobile-friendly?”

Well, you have two options. You can redesign your site, or you can create a separate mobile site that lives at mobile.myfirm.com.

Each has their benefits and drawbacks, but I’m going to strongly recommend a site redesign over creating a separate mobile version of your website.

The main reason is maintenance. With two different web properties to maintain, you’ll need to have a way of keeping them in sync. And what’s more, you’ll need to be diligent about telling Google which version of a page is ‘canonical’. Meaning, which version is the “one true version?” Fail to stay on top of that and Google will dock you for having duplicate content.

The second reason is just common sense. For the same cost it would take to build a mobile-specific site, you could redesign your site to be mobile-friendly and avoid the mess of maintaining two properties altogether.

No need to worry about whether the mobile site matches your desktop branding. No worrying about duplicate content. And hey, you get a fancy new desktop and mobile website for the same investment.

How large is that investment? Well, it depends on what you’re starting with.

I use wordpress or another CMS.

If you already use a content management system like WordPress, it could be as simple as finding a theme you like. A decent responsive theme can be had for peanuts on sites like themeforest.net. You might get lucky and be able to just swap in the new theme and call it a day and you’re done in ~$50.

More likely, you’ll want to find a developer to customize the theme in a few places to fit your brand. That could cost you ~$50-$100/hr for a few hours of work. A far cry from building a new site from scratch.

I had a custom site coded for me.

But if your site was a custom job, as we typically see with agencies or with one-off website designs, your options get a (little) bit more expensive.

You’ll likely need to go through that process again. Which is a pain, I know. This time through though, keep an eye on an ability to upgrade in the future. If you’re working with a developer or agency, make sure they’re using a commonly-used CMS that will be around for a while. WordPress would be my recommendation (outside of using AmazeLaw of course.)

For an idea of what a site should cost these days, check out our guide to How Much a Law Firm Website Should Cost.

But regardless of your starting point. This update is a good thing for your firm. Sure it requires some investment. But that’s exactly what it is. An investment that you’ll most definitely see returns on.

Again. This is a GOOD thing. Think of it this way.

Imagine you had a 20 year old car. It’s worked well for you in the past. Sure, it’s not shiny, but it’s gotten you where you’ve needed to go.

But, a lot has changed in 20 years. Technology has gotten exponentially better. While you might say “I don’t need my car to talk to me,” it’d be hard to argue against the safety, fuel-efficiency, and reliability improvements that have come along with it.

On the road, states incentivize adoption of new technology through car inspections. On the internet, Google is taking on that role by rewarding sites that stay current with better search placement.

So rather than lamenting the fact that it’s become necessary to upgrade your website, you should also feel excited. You can now take advantage of advances in technology that make marketing your firm much easier.

Does your site need a mobile upgrade?

Our sites are all fully-mobile-optimized. If you want to see what mobile magic AmazeLaw can do for your firm…

Schedule a Demo Today

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.

Lessons In Marketing For Solo And Small Firm Attorneys From A Solo Attorney

Hi, I’m Katie.  I’m an employment attorney.  I like what I do, and I’m good at it.  Oh, you want to hire me?  Great!

If only it was that easy.  I’ve been a solo attorney for a little more than a year and a half.  I’ve learned so much about attorney marketing, especially marketing online.  I know I’ve probably only scratched the surface of everything that I should know, but I’ve made huge strides.  I get calls from other attorneys telling me how much they like my blog.  Clients find me online.  Am I always on the first page of for the search terms I want?  No.  But I’m getting there.

I was lucky that I have a husband who understands all this stuff, but I still had to learn a lot of it myself, and I had to make a ton of mistakes along the way.  If you’re reading this, you might be where I was when I first started.  Let me help you by sharing a few of the lessons I’ve learned.

  • It’s hard and it takes a lot of time.  Sorry.  I know you were looking for lessons that are going to make your life easier, but let’s start with the principle that’s going to carry you through all of your marketing endeavors.  No one teaches you how to do this in law school.  If you started your career at a firm, the firm paid someone else how to do this.  So now not only are you starting a completely new business and lifestyle, but you have to learn another skill.  But that’s okay, because you can do it and there are ways to make it easier, but let’s just all accept that as lawyers, marketing is a skill that does not come easily to most of us.
  • Take time to figure out who you need to reach.  When I first started out on my own, I felt like I needed to get in front of anyone and everyone.  What if I missed out on an opportunity?  I need blogs that reach every audience.  I want to send my email updates out to everyone and their brother (and somehow find a way to be interesting to everyone on that list).  Then I realized that I only have so many hours in the day, and that I need to be efficient, effective, and focused.  Who are your best referral sources?  For me, it’s HR professionals and other attorneys who don’t do employment law, so my marketing efforts need to be specific to those groups.
  • Figure out the best way to reach them.  The people you want to reach may not always keep you top of mind, but your online presence can help with that.  I try to write blog posts and email newsletters that attract HR professionals (day-to-day information that helps them do their job) and other attorneys (legal changes/important cases).  I also only send my email newsletters to people who have expressed interest.  And it works.  I’ve actually gotten emails back from readers thanking me for putting the email together.  How often do you get a mass email and decide that want to thank the author?
  • Find the right tools to help you.  Everytime I write a blog post (shameless plug – it is so easy to do this through AmazeLaw), I make sure to put it out on social media.  I use Hootsuite and autoschedule.  I don’t have to think about the best times to post, and I only have to post once for it to go to Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook.  I also use Mailchimp to manage my email lists (more shameless plugging – AmazeLaw integrates with Mailchimp).  Yes, it took a little for me to learn how to use these early on, but now I cannot imagine marketing without them.

I know that I’m not an expert on marketing, but I’m learning and finding a way to make it work for me.  As a solo attorney, I can’t justify spending money on marketing consultants when I know I’m smart enough to figure it out for myself.  I became a solo attorney in part for the flexibility, and I’ve built my firm so that I can make time for marketing because it’s worth the effort.

If you’re looking for more information on marketing, AmazeLaw has a great email marketing bootcamp that you can sign up for at  amazelaw.wpengine.com/#newsletter.  And if you have any questions about your firm’s marketing efforts, you are always free to email me with questions at info@amazelaw.com.  Good luck!