A Heartfelt Thank You

Big Fat Pipeline of New Clients

One year ago today my book on law firm marketing appeared on Amazon, and shot straight to number one among all the books in that category. It occasionally drifts down to 2, 3 or 4, but for the most part it has remained #1 throughout the year. Other than the readers who find it while doing a search on Amazon, the only other source of promotion is here, and on my companion site, Your Own Law Firm. Thanks to those of you who have purchased the book. I hope you were able to implement my suggestions, and that they are working for you as well as they have worked for me.

The feedback has been amazing. I love hearing from those who have applied the principles and write to me to let me know how well they are working. But my favorite email was from an attorney who wrote to say she must be doing something wrong because she’d seen no increase in phone calls from potential clients after doing what I suggested. A couple of days went by before I had the time to review the one website she had created, and while she had followed my advice to the letter in selecting a URL, she had not implemented the other two parts of the Trifecta discussed in my book. I called her to explain what she had missed, but she advised me that in the days since her email to me, the website had “kicked in” and was generating calls. And that was with the implementation of just a small part of the technique set forth in the book. That was very rewarding.

Thanks again.

Fiverr.com – Your Low Cost Personal Assistant

If you have not yet experienced the joy that is Fiverr.com, you are in for a real treat. Fiverr is the world’s largest online marketplace for $5 services, with weird services such as “I will write any message on my lips and take a photo” or “I will make fun of someone in my stand-up comedy routine”. But don’t dismiss Fiverr as a joke site. Used properly, you can glean some amazing values from the site for your law firm marketing efforts.

My search for an e-book cover provides a good illustration of how you can use Fiverr successfully and save some serious money.

In the real world, the going price to create an e-book cover (yes, even an e-book needs a cover) is about $250 (although it can go all the way up to $1,200). On Fiverr, there are dozens of graphic artists offering the service for just $5. There are lots of up-sells offered – an extra $5 is you want it in less than 48 hours, another $5 if you want it in multiple formats, etc. – but the basic service is $5.

I had used Fiverr for some other things, but for my first e-book cover I decided to give six different sellers the assignment. With three of them, I gave an idea of how I wanted the e-book to look. With the remaining three, I gave far less guidance in the hope that they might come up with an idea that was superior to my own.

Of the three who were trying to implement my idea, two created unacceptable covers, and one never delivered anything (I wasn’t charged). I don’t blame the bad covers on the sellers who were trying to implement my idea. I think it was my crazy idea that was just too difficult to implement in the space available. As to the three that were left to their own devices, all three covers were fairly decent, but one was far superior. Even that cover had some things I didn’t like, but with a couple of follow-up emails, the e-book cover came out just like I wanted.

Of course if you were willing to take the time, you could hire each of the six people in turn, and see what each produced before moving on to the next. I don’t have that kind of time or patience, so I much prefer to invest the $30 to have six different artists provide their proposed covers.

When I produced my next e-book, I went through the same process. You might expect that I would have simply used the one artist who had successfully completed the first job, but I like the idea of having different artists come up with their own ideas. Sure enough, the next time around, the winning cover was not produced by the same artist who succeeded the first time. I used the same approach each time to have the e-book text formatted properly.

As you go through your days marketing your firm, assign a few of your brain cells the task of asking, “is this something I could delegate to Fiverr?” I’m the guy who suggests that you should create a website and blog at least once so you know how it’s done, but once you have that skill, you can certainly assign work on the sites to someone on Fiverr. For example, you have a blog that you want to use to capture the email addresses of visitors so you can follow up. You’ve seen other blogs that pop up a request when someone visits the site, but you have no idea how to make it do that. Sounds like a perfect job for Fiverr.

Incidentally, giving someone access to your blog or website is a scary experience. What if instead of installing the email plug-in, they decide it would be quite the lark to trash your site? Here is how you protect yourself.

First, backup your blog. If you are using ManageWP (affiliate link) to administer all your WordPress blogs, that is a simple process. Then, even if the person goes insane and crashes the site, you can restore it all with a few clicks. Next, to give limited access to the person who is going to be working on your blog, create a new user. WordPress, for example, makes it very easy to add a user with administrative privileges. Give the user name and password information to whomever will be working on your blog. As soon as the assignment is completed, simply delete the user. It’s still a little like turning your baby over to a babysitter you’ve never met, but so far I’ve never had a problem (with my blogs; I’ve never actually turned one of my children over to a stranger).

Thus far I’ve never seen a posting on Fiverr for “will draft your Motion for Summary Judgment for $5”, and I don’t think that will happen anytime soon. But for your marketing – logos, intros for your podcast, formatting freemiums, creating a graphic intro for your videos, adding functionality to your blogs, creating a fan page on Facebook, etc. – Fiverr can be an amazing resource.

Don’t Be That Attorney — Save the Drama for Your Mama

Smug Attorney

I have spoken here before about the folly of posturing, but an incident today made me return to the keyboard.

Many attorneys must think that posturing accomplishes something, because so many engage in the practice, but it is my position that it usually works to the detriment of their clients. Opposing counsel will know the strengths or weaknesses of their case, so posturing is extremely unlikely to force a result. Worse, it may only antagonize the opposition, encouraging them to work harder to make certain your claimed deficiencies in the case are addressed.

Which brings us to today’s matter. I represent the defendants in a federal case in Northern California, and a few months ago the court held a mandatory settlement conference. My clients have no liability in the case, but went into the MSC with open minds. Plaintiffs, however, took the position that the liability was so clear that they would settle only for the full amount they were claiming was owed. During their posturing, they claimed that if we did not settle on the spot for the millions they were claiming is owed, they would simply bring a motion for summary judgment, and would undoubtedly succeed. According to plaintiffs’ counsel, this was a generous offer, because we could settle and avoid the costs of defending against what would so clearly be a successful motion for summary judgment.

Of course we didn’t settle, and true to their word, plaintiffs brought a motion for summary judgment that they had obviously spent a great deal of time on.

MOTION DENIED. It wasn’t even close. But opposing counsel’s shame went far beyond merely losing face over a motion he had claimed was a slam dunk. In the ruling on the motion, the judge took the plaintiffs to the woodshed over some of their claims, and beautifully articulated the defenses we have maintained all along. Then I received a notice today from a legal website that is posting the ruling and asking for my comments. Opposing counsel will now be humiliated further by the public discussion of his failed motion and chastisement by the court.

Please understand, there is no shame is losing a well fought motion. The shame comes from the posturing. If you go up to bat and point to the center field bleachers, you’d better be able to deliver.

So what was accomplished by all the posturing, and the grandiose “all or nothing” play at the MSC? First the plaintiffs lost a possible opportunity to settle, then they got to spend big money on an unsuccessful motion, the judge was educated and preconditioned as to the defenses in the case, they “showed their hand” in advance of the trial by putting on all the evidence in conjunction with the motion, and plaintiffs’ attorneys were left with egg on their faces. Brilliant strategy.

Don’t be that attorney.

Why You Should Be Using Evernote

Evernote for LawyersI’ve said it before here. After deciding not to write about a program like Evernote because I assume everyone is using it, I run across an attorney who says, “Evernote, what is that?”

If you use a computer and any smartphone or tablet, then Evernote should be at the heart of your organizational life. I have tried every sort of planner and to-do software, but Evernote beats them all due to the automatic sync between all your devices. Your notes, thoughts, documents, images, whatever will always be with you.

And it’s free.

If you go to YouTube, you’ll find hundreds of tutorial videos for Evernote that will show you how to tap its full potential. Here are two to get you started, the first being a basic tutorial that will show you the functionality of Evernote, followed by one specific to the emailing feature.


Stop Attaching Documents to Your Complaint

Large ComplaintThe planets must be aligned or misaligned as the case may be, because I’ve been flooded with callers who are dissatisfied with their current attorneys, and want to fire them to hire me.

I get a lot of these calls, and reviewing the cases to decide if I want them gives me great insight into the manner in which other attorneys handle cases. I have just reviewed my fourth complaint of the day, and encountered one of my pet peeves. I had to take a moment to vent.

All of the complaints were guilty of the offense, but one particular complaint, with attachments, is 125 pages long. The attorney has seriously over-plead the case, and that is a topic for another day, but he has also attached 12 exhibits.

It’s actually not proper to attach some exhibits to complaints, and it is often a really bad idea to do so. In the case I was reviewing, the attorney had attached the contract, and I would venture to say that most attorneys would do the same.

Think before you attach! Even in a breach of contract action, you don’t have to attach the contract. The problem with doing so is that anything you attach to a complaint becomes an allegation. The defendant is then free to cite to any provision in that contract to support a demurrer or other motion. Continue reading

Best Client Call of the Week

Map of America

A potential client called about a breach of contract action she wants to pursue. The case presents some interesting venue and jurisdiction issues, because the contract was entered into here in California, but neither party lives here now. For reasons not important to the story, it is not feasible to sue the defendant where he resides. So, the caller asked if the action could be brought in California, and the following discussion ensued.

“That depends. For a breach of contract action, you can sue the defendant in one of three places. You can sue where the contract was entered into, where it was to be performed, or where the defendant resides. Where did you sign the contract?”

“On page five.”

How Does Google Work?

In my book, How to Create a Big, Fat Pipeline of New Clients for Your Law Firm in Just 10 Days, I discuss all the factors Google looks at to determine which search results will appear on page one.

I came across this very good video that discusses the issues as well, and provides a basic summary of how Google works. The video covers only the basics, but I really like the example used to explain incoming links, which also covers the importance of proper anchor text. I also appreciate that the author never tries to sell anything.

As set forth in How to Create a Big, Fat Pipeline, backlinks are important, and they are something you should strive for, but as I show, you can land on page one with no backlinks.


Law Office Software of the Month — NoteScraps

Attorney Software -- NoteScraps

Right now, are there any sticky notes attached to your computer monitor(s)? Any notes scribbled on legal pads on your desk? If so, you might be a perfect candidate for a simple program called NoteScraps.

Many years ago (geez, I think it might have been in the days of DOS), I used and loved a program called Tornado Notes. The program was like using electronic sticky notes, but with the ability to search them instantly. It was the perfect program for catching information that I might put on a sticky note or, worse, just try to remember. What made Tornado Notes perfect was that it required no effort. Hit the hot-key combination, and up pops a blank note ready for input. Then, when I needed to recall that information, another hot-key combination would pull up all my notes. I would start typing the information I was looking for, and all the notes that did not contain that information would disappear, leaving only the note I was looking for.

Tornado Notes was “upgraded” to a new program that contained far more features, and that was its downfall. The beauty of the program was its total simplicity.

I found a replacement for the old familiar program that I loved so much, called NoteScraps. Continue reading

Five Reasons Attorneys Fall for SEO Scams

In my book, How to Create a Big, Fat Pipeline of New Clients for Your Law Firm in Just 10 Days, I provide the following anecdote:

There is a classic Peanuts comic, where Linus is going door to door trying to sell wadded up pieces of paper as cat toys. His sales presentation is good, but he never makes a sale. He asks the cat owners to picture the hours of fun their cats will have playing with the wadded up piece of paper. Nonetheless, he can’t get past the fact that he’s selling wadded up pieces of paper. He loses the sale every time, because the prospective customers realize and explain that they can wad up their own pieces of paper.

I don’t know why that comic stuck with me, but I see it played out over and over in real life, especially on the Internet. To this day, solo practitioners who can’t afford it are spending thousands of dollars to have people build websites for them. To fulfill my continuing education requirements, I was at a law firm marketing seminar recently where someone claimed that incoming links are essential to successful search engine optimization (SEO). He claimed that you should have 30,000 incoming links to your site, and as luck would have it, he just happened to offer a link-building service for the “limited time, have to buy it now or the offer is lost for ever” price of $1,950 per month. He normally required a one year commitment, but attorneys signing up on the spot only had to commit to six months. Attorneys were lined up to pay $1,950 per month — a total commitment of almost $12,000 — for incoming links to a single website! The website fiverr.com offers 50,000 incoming links for just $5, and they are just as worthless as what this person was offering.

These sorts of absurd SEO claims and pricing are far too commonplace. By accident or design, many so-called SEO experts mystify the process so that you won’t realize it’s just wadded up pieces of paper, and you can wad your own paper, thank you very much.

I came across an interesting article by Jared Jorde entitled 5 Reasons Attorneys are Easy Marks for SEO Scams on a blog called LawLytics. Jorde has apparently witnessed the same sort of nonsense I reported, and provides a detailed look at the reasons behind the phenomenon. The article is worth a read to make sure you don’t fall prey to one of the scams yourself.

In Big Fat Pipeline, I explain how to create your own websites for just $6 per month, and I use that as a point of reference when someone is offering to create websites for me. I have no objection to farming out that work, and although I have no experience with LawLytics, I’d bet their websites are fancier than my own meager efforts. You went to law school to practice law, not to create websites. So by all means allow the pros to create your sites if your budget permits, but just keep in mind that it isn’t magic, and you can wad your own paper.

iPad Tip for Lawyers: Put Your Contact Information on Your Lock Screen

It’s a very obvious idea that had never occurred to me until I saw this video.

I have my contact information printed on a label on the back of my iPad, but why not put it right on the lock screen, so anyone who finds my iPad will see who it belongs to as soon as they turn it on? It’s as simple as putting your information on a photo, and making that photo your lock screen photo. You can complete the process with any photo editing program you feel comfortable with, and this author walks you through the entire process.

The video is specific to the iPad, but the same approach would work on any Android device, so long as you have the ability to set your lock screen photo.