Marketing Strategies for Lawyers from #SuperMarket6

Supermarket6June 2 and 3 marked the sixth annual Super Marketing Conference held in Boston, Massachusetts.  As usual, the content and lineup was stellar.  Topics included managing online reviews and profiles, video marketing, website design, and content management.

With over 300 conference tweets, it was easy to capture the “best of,” some of which are featured below. For a more complete curation, see this recap.

Online Reviews

  • 77% of people read online reviews before buying
  • Plant the online review idea early with clients
  • Bad online reviews help improve the credibility of good online reviews on the same site
  • Google tracks review locations, times. Clusters near your office, at same time will be dropped.

Online Profiles

  • Even selfies on help build lawyer visibility, credibility (you can learn from your 12 year olds).
  • If someone’s looking for a lawyer, they are eventually going to Google (verb) their name
  • Users find authenticity on,
  • great place to see questions prospects are asking so you know what to write about on your blog
  • Every 100 “Answers” posted on Avvo Forum leads to 10 contacts. 10% lead gen is pretty cool!

Content and Branding

  • Content for lawyer marketing/branding flows out of a lawyer’s values and story
  • Effective branding requires clarity of message (requires development) with consistent delivery.
  • We don’t buy from logic, we buy from emotion. Your brand must have a happiness campaign. Package your happiness and sell it.
  • Clients hire individuals, not “lawyers” as fungible machines
  • Content must appeal to the audience you are seeking (referral sources v. possible clients)

Why Your Next Client Wants to Hire You

  • What are potential clients looking for? 1) Expertise 46% 2) Trusted Recommendations 37% 3) Trust 30% 4) Location (20mi)
  • Focus your marketing on being the solution that consumers need to address their legal concerns
  • 60% of consumers use mobile to find their attorneys
  • 64% of legal consumers only contact one attorney. 87% hire that attorney.
  • Resounding theme – get your firm on ! Most popular mobile apps used by consumer Facebook and FB Messenger

Video Marketing

  • Use video marketing as means of differentiation, trust, authority
  • YouTube is the second largest search engine. Google owns YouTube. Use YouTube. ~ Marketing Logic for Lawyers
  • Use Schema.org or Wistia to tag videos for beneficial SEO
  • Forget Pay-per-click – the legal market is too saturated (and rates are ridiculously high)
  • Use animated gifs, not embedded videos in your eNewsletters

Read all the “Best of” tweets from the #SuperMarket6 Conference here.

[All Rights Reserved Beverly Michaelis 2016]

Strategies for Coping in Difficult Financial Times

money-treeMoney is a significant source of stress for many of us.  Lawyers who are unemployed or underemployed understand the pressure all too well.

If you feel stressed by lack of money, how can you get on track?  Meet your goals?  Create a vision for the future?  The answer is to take a multi-dimensional approach.

Step 1: Coping With Your Feelings

The American Psychological Association has some excellent tips on how to cope with the tension and stress caused by personal financial problems.  Among their suggestions: ask for professional support.

In Oregon, we are fortunate to have the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program.  The OAAP is available to assist Oregon lawyers and their families with any issues that affect a lawyer’s ability to function.  This includes depression or anxiety caused by financial worry.  If financial problems are affecting your own mental health or the mental health of a loved one, friend, or colleague, contact the OAAP and speak with an attorney counselor.  OAAP services are free and confidential.

Step 2:  Communicating about Money Issues

Many of us don’t know how to talk to others about money.  We are fearful, anxious, and may even engage in self-sabotage.

Whether you are struggling to speak openly to a loved one or your law partner, help is available.

In 2010, the OAAP held a program entitled Money Matters featuring Brian Farr – a licensed professional counselor specializing in individual, couple, and financial therapy. Oregon lawyers can order the Money Matters program and download the handout at no charge from the PLF Web site.  (MCLE credit for this CLE has been extended through the end of this year.)

In Money Matters, Mr. Farr reviewed how to communicate about money issues and create a clear and accurate financial picture.  His handout includes a self-test for financial troubles, spending worksheet, monthly income and expense snapshot, and balance sheet.

If you are looking for guidance on how to talk to loved ones or colleagues about money issues, order this program.  If you are looking for practical tips on how to get a handle on your finances, order this program.  For one-on-one support, speak confidentially to an attorney counselor at the OAAP.

Step 3:  Getting Your Finances in Order

Beyond the insight and tips available in Money Matters, you will find excellent advice in this recent post by Sheila May: Managing Personal Finances During Periods of Unemployment and Underemployment.  Ms. May is a CPA specializing in forensic accounting and litigation support in Scituate, Massachusetts.

Step 4:  Additional Tips for Solos and Small Firm Practitioners

If you are a solo or small firm practitioner, add the following Business Essentials to your financial toolkit:

Do your homework on law firm economics and learn to avoid the pitfalls that lead to non-paying clients.  Details are available in this OSB Bulletin article.

All Rights Reserved [2014] Beverly Michaelis

Encryption: Essential Best Practice or Much Ado About Nothing?

In a recent post, MASS LOMAP’s senior law practice management advisor Jared Correia shared the ABCs of encryption.  Whether you’re securing one document at a time or an entire collection, be sure to check out his recommendations.  Another excellent resource is Email Encryption for Everyone by Catherine Reach.

While Oregon practitioners are not required to comply with data protection statutes, encryption is an essential best practice when it comes to the cloud.  And perhaps in a few other contexts when the situation warrants:

Although use of electronic communications is not a per se violation of the duty of confidentiality, special precautions may be necessary in particular circumstances. For example, if information is particularly sensitive or subject to a confidentiality agreement, a lawyer may need to implement special security measures. Also, if a client requests it, a lawyer may be required to avoid, or be allowed to use, a particular type of electronic communication notwithstanding expectations of privacy in the communication method.  Helen Hierschbiel, “Odds & Ends:  Safeguarding Client Information in a Digital World,” Oregon State Bar Bulletin [July 2010].  Also See Melody Finnemore, “The Data Dilemma: Law Firms Strive to Strengthen E-Security as Potential Threats Continue to Rise,” Oregon State Bar Bulletin [October 2012] and the companion sidebar by John W. Simek and Sharon D. Nelson, “E-Security Pros Offer 15 Tips to Help Law Firms Better Protect Sensitive Data.”

Fellow Oregon practice management advisor Sheila Blackford is working on an encryption article for In Brief, the official publication of the Professional Liability Fund.  Keep an eye out in your mailbox and your inbox – the article is likely to appear late this year or in early 2014.

[Photo credit: The Lone Gunman/Conspiracy Hack]

How to Set Up a Conflict System in Outlook

Using Outlook for conflict tracking may not be the most ideal solution, but for many lawyers starting out on a shoestring, it’s a way to make do.  

More likely than not, you already own the program.  And as Tom Peterson used to say, “Free is a very good price” when you have little or no capital to launch your practice. 

Here’s How it Works

Create a new contact card in Outlook for every client/matter.  Enter the client’s name, address, and other contact information.  Use the Notes field to enter:

  • Conflict names and relationships
  • File number (if used)
  • Date file opened
  • Description of case

When you close a matter, enter:

  • Closed file number
  • Date file closed
  • Date of destruction (when destroyed)

 

If you are a novice or favor simplicity, keep all clients – former and current – in one contact list.  This allows for easy searching, which is the key to any conflict database.  If you are more adept with Outlook, you can use categories to identify area of practice, responsible attorney in a multi-lawyer firm, and current/former client status.  (Another option is to create separate contact lists for current and former clients.)

To search for conflicts in Outlook, navigate to the appropriate contact folder.  In the Search Contacts box, enter the name you wish to search for:

Outlook will search through the first tab of every contact card in your list, including the Notes field.  If a match is found, Outlook automatically displays the card(s) which match the search term. 

To Learn More

There is more to learn about the process of using Outlook for conflict checking.  Click here for complete instructions on how to set up a conflict system in Outlook 2007.  If you are using an older version of Outlook, contact me and I’ll be happy to send you directions for the version you are using.  I also recommend downloading the PLF’s Conflict of Interest Systems-Procedures.  (Select Practice Aids and Forms, then Conflicts of Interest.)  To become an Outlook 2007 power user, order the free DVD, “Microsoft Outlook 2007 Tips,” on the PLF Web site.  (Select Programs on CD/DVD.)

What is the Downside?

Although I’m an Outlook fan, I readily admit there are downsides to using Outlook for conflict tracking.  First, it isn’t the most elegant solution for lawyers who represent clients with multiple matters.  Without enhancements, the program isn’t designed to relate multiple cases or projects to a specific person.  Secondly, Outlook doesn’t readily produce a report to print and place in your file.  There is a workaround of sorts for this issue, which I describe in my instructions.  (See the “Advanced Find” directions.)  You can also use the Request for Conflict Search and System Entry, which is a form included in the Conflict of Interest Systems-Procedures posted on our Web site.  (Select Practice Aids and Forms, then Conflicts of Interest.)

What is the Upside?

If you own Outlook, have no money to spend on software, and aren’t a computer geek, you can get by using Outlook for conflict tracking.  It’s user-friendly and doesn’t require any special effort to get started.  More significantly, it’s quite forgiving:  You can be completely inconsistent when entering conflict information in the Notes field and the search funtion in Outlook will still work.  When you are able to move up to something more sophisticated, Outlook makes it easy to export data with the File Import/Export Wizard.   

You can also enhance Outlook to make it operate more like practice management software.  Practice management software is by far the best way to track conflicts and all the other information related to your clients and their files.  Take a look at Credenza, an Outlook Add-On available for $9.95 per month.  Credenza adds more functionality to Outlook, enabling you to relate multiple files and projects to one client.  More importantly for this post, Credenza can also run a conflict search and print search results:

Because it searches through contact cards, files, phone logs, and e-mails, the conflict check is more thorough.

A free trial of Credenza is available hereRead more about this program at the Mass LOMAP blog maintained by my colleagues Jared Correia and Rodney Dowell.

Practice Tip:  Conflict data accumulates throughout your career as a lawyer.  You must be able to search against an accurate list of former clients and related parties so long as you are engaged in the practice of law.  If you are an associate, Assistant District Attorney, Public Defender, or providing legal services in some other capacity, keep your own conflict list.  Do not rely on your employer to accurately track each file you work on.

Copyright 2010 Beverly Michaelis