Want to Avoid Ethics Complaints? Follow These Three Service Tenets for Satisfied Clients

Unhappy clients often choose to file ethics complaints against their poor-performing lawyers. What leads to their unhappiness? It may come as a surprise, but most ethics complaints are not about incompetence. Instead, most complaints revolve around basic customer service expectations. They involve issues that, even without specific ethics rules in place, would make any reasonable person agree the lawyer should be disciplined. ... Read More

Is Ohio Gagging Lawyers Speaking at Seminars?

Every few years, state ethics officials issue a questionable decision in the legal marketing ethics area. The ones that make you scratch your head and think, “Really? What planet do they live on?” . . . . . . Today, the spotlight is on Ohio. What? I Can’t Hand Out a Brochure When I’m Speaking? Every good legal marketer knows that speaking at seminars is a tried-and-true method of reaching potential clients and enhancing one’s reputation. A recent opinion issued in Ohio would limit the marketing benefits of speaking engagements . . . Continue reading this post on www.attorneyatwork.com Read More

When Can You Pay a Referral Fee?

In most practice areas, a lawyer’s marketing efforts should focus on generating a strong referral pipeline—from both non-lawyers and lawyers alike. If those efforts are successful, you’ll probably need some guidance on referral fees. Here it is. Continue reading this post on attorneyatwork.com http://www.attorneyatwork.com/pay-referral-fee/ Read More

Soliciting Clients by Text Message

It can be hard for legal marketing ethics experts to keep up with rapidly expanding modes of electronic communication, but the State of Ohio recently gave it a try. The issue was text messaging. Is a text message like an email, or is it more like an internet chat-room conversation, where the communication takes place in “real time?” If your answer to this question is, “Who cares?” my response is that lawyers should care. How you answer this question determines the legal and ethical guidelines that control when you solicit a client by texting. Continue reading this post at www.lawyernomics.avvo.com Read More

Just Like Lawyers, Legal Marketers Can Be Good or Bad

This week, the news broke that law firm Seikaly & Stewart is suing legal marketing outfit the Rainmaker Institute over implementation of a search engine optimization program that allegedly broke Google rules and damaged, rather than enhanced, the law firm’s online results. None of us opining about this development in the blogosphere has a clue surrounding all of the relevant facts regarding the litigation. And I don’t much care who wins or loses. I’d just like to use this case as a jumping off point to comment on the venom that seems to accompany the term “legal marketer” whenever it appears in the blogosphere. Let’s get it out in the open. Yes, at times, I earn money by providing legal marketing advice to clients who are lawyers. I guess that makes me a legal marketer. (I also practice law, and have done so for 30 years.) But it escapes me why my association with legal marketing should make me (and my colleagues) the subject of so many four-letter-words. Are there some bad apples out there in the legal marketing bunch? Of course. But does that mean that all of the apples are rotten? I certainly hope not. I find it a bit hypocritical that some of the bloggers want to lump us legal marketers all together, while at the same time, apparently think that everyone in the legal profession is above reproach. In case you haven’t noticed, lawyers (of which I am one) are not the most respected profession out there. There’s a reason for all of those lawyer jokes. Just ask any disciplinary official in the 50 states. Lots of unethical lawyers do shameful things to their clients. But the actions of a few do not taint all lawyers. Similarly, why should a few shameful legal marketers taint all legal marketers? When it comes right down to it, legal marketers are not as different from lawyers as many think. Both sell services that clients find useful. When considering whether to hire a legal marketer or an attorney, clients should weigh similar factors. These include: Credentials, Experience, References, The promise (If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true), and The fees and charges. Follow this simple advice and you should find value in what either a legal marketer or a lawyer is selling. Originally published on Lawyerist.com Read More

Networking Groups – Are They Ethical?

Referral sources are the lifeblood of many successful attorneys. Old standby places to meet new people and establish relationships with referral sources include bar and trade associations, as well as business community organizations (such as Chamber of Commerce or Rotary). Although the missions of these groups vary significantly, referrals are the inevitable reward for active participation. Continuing reading this post at www.lawyernomics.avvo.com Read More

Keep Your Marketing Out of Ethics Traps

The most important ABA Model Rule governing professional conduct in the area of legal marketing is Rule 7.1, which covers communications concerning a lawyer’s services. All states have adopted this rule, worded exactly the same or very close to it. The rule provides: Continue reading this post on www.attorneyatwork.com Read More

Why Lawyers Should Beware of "Specializing"

It is the rare lawyer who is familiar with all the intricacies of legal marketing ethics rules. Most of them, however, seem to know that they must take care when using the word “specialize.” At the same time, most of these attorneys have no idea why. Continue reading this post to discover the answer. Continue reading this post at www.lawyerist.com Read More

Even Abraham Lincoln Had to Market

I enjoy the holiday season for many reasons. One is because Hollywood usually releases a few decent and entertaining movies. One movie that earned a respectable amount of praise this season is Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln. If you read the reviews, or talked to friends and colleagues who have seen the movie, you’ve probably heard a common refrain: “I didn’t know that Abraham Lincoln did that.” Lincoln the Trial Lawyer Most of you should remember from your history classes that Lincoln (like many presidents) was a lawyer. You may even recall that he was a famed Illinois trial lawyer. But you probably don’t know that Lincoln the lawyer was just as skilled at marketing his own services as he was in the courtroom. By today’s standards, in fact, he might be accused of being an ambulance chaser. As a lawyer in private practice, one of Lincoln’s most important cases was Illinois Central Railroad v. County of McLean. He represented the railroad and convinced the state’s high court that the county could not tax the property of railroads that had been chartered by the state. Without getting into the details about the facts and holding of the decision, I’d like to share with you my fascination with how Lincoln got the nod to represent the railroad in the first place. Lincoln the Marketer Lincoln initially solicited McLean County officials orally during some meetings. He wrote a letter to an official in neighboring Champaign County, seeking to represent it, too. After getting no response from either county, Lincoln then wrote to the railroad’s chief lawyer to indicate that he was available to represent the railroad. “And if you think fit,” he said, “you may ‘count me in.’” Four days later, Lincoln was retained. The rest, as the saying goes, is history. At the time, of course, Lincoln’s conduct violated no ethics rule. It wasn’t until 1908, when the ABA issued its Canons of Professional Responsibility, that individual states began to prohibit most forms of solicitation and advertising by lawyers. Under today’s rules, Lincoln’s solicitation and direct mail campaign would probably raise more than a few eyebrows. It should come as no surprise that Lincoln was effective at marketing his talent as a lawyer, After all, getting elected twice as the nation’s president could be considered the quintessential American marketing endeavor. He was obviously no amateur. Even the Best Market The next time you catch yourself grumbling over having to market so much, stop and think. Just remember, even an icon like Lincoln needed to do his fair share of marketing in order to be successful. Originally published on Lawyerist.com Read More

Asking For The Business: IMHO, Rarely Ethical or Effective

In a previous post dealing with the ethical traps in networking, I discussed how “asking for business” can run afoul of the ABA Rules of Professional Conduct. In this post, I want to discuss how “asking for business” can be ineffective as well as a business development tactic. Continue reading post on solopracticeuniversity.com Read More