Ramblings of an Attorney Video Marketer

Lawyers ask me all the time whether video is really useful. I’m tempted to tell them that the answer is “no.” However, I’ve always been straightforward and honest when explaining to lawyers how useful and important creating video is to market their legal practice.

There are plenty of attorneys who are so busy practicing law that they never look up to realize that they actually need to work on their business instead of in the business in order to generate new clients and new cases. Many attorneys find marketing to be distasteful and best left to the rainmaker of the firm. All they want is to be the best lawyer they can be and get the best results for the client. That is a great ideal and is very commendable. However, if you look at your recent statistics showing you where you got your clients from over the last year you will undoubtedly recognize that the sources for your cases have changed, especially when compared to years past.

Lawyers tell me every day that today’s practice of law is not what it used to be. That is true. The economy is drastically different. Our perceptions have changed dramatically. Laws have changed. Our congress and senate is constantly in flux. The only constant is that people continue to get into trouble; they continue to need legal advice, and they continue to need legal services to help them through their dilemmas. That fact alone should give you hope and recognize that your services are needed.

The problem that most attorneys have is distinguishing themselves from each other. The worst thing you can do is show your potential consumers that you are simply a commodity to be bargained with and are no different than a lawyer down the street. You don’t want to be competing solely on price, nor do you want to be the cheapest lawyer in town. Consumers perceive that if you are the lowest priced attorney in town, then you are a bargain-basement attorney. Clearly, that’s not the impression you want to give. In fact, I know a number of good attorneys who have raised their prices despite this poor economic climate. While other lawyers are drastically cutting their prices, a select few are dramatically increasing their prices and thriving, in part to show how different they are and how valuable their services truly are.

Lawyers who have been exposed to some type of marketing typically fall back to the traditional types of lawyer advertising we so commonly see, and that we have gotten so sick of; the TV commercials, the 15 second radio ads, the Yellow Pages ads that says nothing except ‘come to me because I handle the following 10 areas of practice’. Or maybe they have seen a billboard with a fancy 1-800-number and some smiling lawyers that has a one-word question: “Injured?”

I think consumers are tired of attorneys who advertise in the traditional way. Most consumers are sophisticated today and they are looking for an attorney who can help them solve their particular problem. Although I know a number of attorneys who swear by traditional forms of lawyer advertising, I also know many attorneys who do everything possible to stay away from the clichéd and hackneyed lawyer ads that say nothing. That comprises the essence of most attorney advertising.

Why do you think there’s so many rules and regulations that govern attorney advertising? It’s because most of the advertising that we have done in the past has been so awful and it failed to educate our consumers about what we do and how we do it. Never before has there been a forum or a media that explained to our consumers exactly what we do and how we do it. There is no other form of attorney advertising media except video that allows us the unparalleled and unrestricted opportunity to give our consumers tons and tons of information that actually helps them make an educated decision about which attorney they should use  for their legal problem.

Remember, there plenty of people out there who have legal problems. Whether it’s an immigration problem or an accident problem or an employment discrimination problem, these issues are ever present. The public seeks and needs our help to solve their problems. Of course, not all problems can be solved, and not every attorney is right for every client.

How then can you best filter out those consumers and potential clients that are out there looking for an attorney? The answer is with video. Creating video helps you explain to your viewers what your area of expertise is, and importantly how you can help solve particular legal problems.

In New York, attorneys are explicitly prohibited from proclaiming that they are an expert in any particular area of law. We cannot come out and say that we are an expert in a specific area of law, even though we’ve been practicing in that area for over 20 or 25 years. We are obligated to tell our potential clients that we cannot guarantee any particular outcome regardless of our best efforts. It is the classic cover your behind cautionary advice that we must give so that consumers do not automatically assume that our past experiences mean that we can be successful in their particular case. That makes sense. In fact, it would be unethical to tell a client that because an attorney has achieved a particular result of prior case that that means they could do the same thing for their particular case.

In a recent decision about attorney conduct for online advertising, it said that a lawyer is obligated to be truthful about what they can and cannot do. In addition, the decision further indicated that a lawyer must be very clear that even though a potential client or consumer has communicated with the attorney through their website by e-mail or other means, they must be told that there is no attorney-client relationship until such time as they come into the office and sign a retainer where they actually hire the attorney.

You would think that this was common sense.

Ironically, the American Bar Association ran into flak from lawyers because the ABA was going to put this opinion behind a pay-wall so that attorneys could only see it if they pay a fee. Because of the uproar created by this decision, the American Bar Association backtracked and instead decided to post this opinion on their website for all to see. That makes sense, especially since most attorneys were not going to pay the American Bar Association to see what their ethical opinions were about attorney conduct. The best way to inform attorneys about what is and is not acceptable conduct is to make that information available online.

There is no better medium for attorneys to show potential consumers and potential clients how much expertise they have. Creating educational video helps these consumers understand how cases like these work. As an indirect benefit, viewers get to see that I have a specific expertise in my area of law which often prompts them to pick up the phone and call me, many times in the middle of watching one of my videos, to ask for more information. It has become almost routine for viewers to contact me after having seen my videos. They often will call and personally thank me for the information that I put online, and importantly, I don’t post any legal advice.

Lawyers are continually amazed when I tell them and recommend that they do not put any legal advice in their videos. “If I can’t give legal advice, then what can I talk about in my videos?” I get that question almost every day. I answer that question in my mastermind call that I have with attorneys who join my total online video solution program where I help lawyers create educational video to market their law practices. As a practicing trial attorney for 22 years now, I’ve been able to determine, through trial and error, what types of videos compel the viewer to call, and what types do not. I have the unique advantage of being a featured writer for Technolawyer.com where I review attorney videos on a regular basis.  I often study what other lawyers have done to create video to market their practices. Lawyers send me links to new videos all the time and it allows me to see immediately what works and what doesn’t work.

Lawyers in large firms still believe that online viewers want to see and hear about their credentials; where they went to law school, whether they were on moot court or law review, where they clerked for a particular judge and what firm they’re currently with. The reality is that no one cares, outside of your family, what your credentials are. A consumer looking for an attorney to solve their problem has only one thought in their mind: “I need an attorney to help me solve my problem.”

The question I have for you is “Will you be that attorney?”
How can you show your viewer that you are the right attorney for them?

I encourage you to read more of the articles on my blog which answers that question. By learning how to market yourself online using video, you not only become the trusted source, but you become the standard by which all other attorneys are then judged by your online consumer. This is an incredible competitive advantage that 99% of attorneys do not recognize.

If you want to work in your business as an attorney, that’s fine, as long as you have a continual flow of good cases that will keep you happy for many years to come. Most attorneys are now realizing that they need to look for other sources of revenue and income to stay afloat and to lead happy, productive lives as a practicing lawyer. Creating video is the best way to do that.

I encourage you to learn more about my total online video solution and to learn how I can help you as an attorney create educational video to market your law practice.

Thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy blog post.
Best regards,
Gerry

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Testimonials

I think we shot at least 50 videos in one day, which to me was amazing. That was probably the thing I was most nervous about when you said we were going to shoot 50 videos, I thought we would be here until midnight and it’s well short of midnight when we finished. So I’m really pleased with the amount of work that we got done in one day.
I would say call Gerry. He’ll spend the time with you on the phone to talk to you about what he does. It’s not a hard sell.

Stephen Hamilton
Law Office of Stephen Hamilton