The Power of an Instant Response

Tech expert Justanswer.comLawyers can take a page from Internet marketers who have discovered the potency of an instant -- and I mean immediate -- response to a client inquiry.

Tale #1: I recently bought a new laptop (Windows 7 Toshiba Satellite) and was aggravated that I couldn't open attachments from emails or install a new program. The mystery problem seemed to be with the pre-installed Norton antivirus, and I contacted customer support. I completed the online form and was notified I was #66 in line! You guessed it -- I missed my turn.

I was considering uninstalling Norton when the phone rang. I was astounded that it was Norton support, calling to reconnect me with a tech support person. Taking control over my laptop, she immediately fixed the problem. I was delighted and they kept me as a customer.

Tale #2: I have an idea for a service and bought a domain name via Within a minute the phone rang, and it was a guy from, offering to build a custom website at no charge. The site would include graphics, several pages and email accounts. Hosting would cost $115 per month. 

It seemed like a good deal but I told him I wanted to think about it. He said the offer was good only over the phone. So I turned him down because I don't like "act now" ultimatum-style offers. I might have said "yes" if I hadn't already looked into WordPress. In any event, I was impressed with the lightning offer.

Tale #3: After a week of hassling, I could not get Outlook 2013 to add my Gmail account. It kept rejecting my username and password. I Googled for a solution repeatedly, until I ran across I read a transcript of an online chat with an expert who got Outlook 2013 working, so I tried it.

I willingly put down a $48 "good faith deposit," and was immediately connected with Jason, a tech expert. This guy was awesome. Using a chat feature I described my frustration and gave him permission to take over my computer remotely. I watched the screen as he quickly created a new IMAP Gmail account, got it working and deleted the defective account.

I was dazzled and soooo grateful. Using an online feature, I gave him a cash tip plus a good review. Then I learned I had a free trial and wouldn't be charged the $48 until after a week. In other words -- the fix was free. Needless to say, they have me as a customer when the trial ends.

Marketing Lessons

These tales taught me that the very best time to close a new client is the moment they are telling you about their problem. There will not be a better time to close them later on. If you wait for a client to do more research and mull things over, they may likely choose someone else. The person they will choose is the lawyer who closed the client as they listened to them talk.

So if you have subscribed to a lead generation service, be certain to have someone make a response the second it arrives.

The tales also show that a solution now is worth much more than a solution later. There is a huge intrinsic value to speed of delivery. This is why Amazon and eBay have gone beyond competing on overnight delivery, and are working on same-day delivery. Giving good legal counsel immediately is much better than giving excellent legal advice eventually.

Recently I needed advice on a contract governed by Ohio law. I found a lawyer online near Akron, and described the legal issue via email and phone. He gave me the bottom line answer on the phone on a Friday and sent me an eight-page opinion letter on Monday.

Making a legal problem go away without a wait is what clients really want.



Best Time and Day to Tweet, Blog and Email

Best time to tweetBuffer, a social media sharing tool, published an illustrated 1,800-word article on using timing to maximize your impact on Twitter, Facebook, email and blogging. It's a welter of information, some of it conflicting, but here are the high points:

Twitter: if you are tweeting from your company account, your tweets will get the highest click through rates on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  You'll get the most click throughs during commuting hours of 7-10 AM, and also from 4-5 PM before dinner, and 7-11 PM after dinner.  Regardless of the day, you'll get the most retweets around 5 PM.

best time to send emailEmail: Consumer-based marketing emails are best sent early in the morning, from 6-10 AM. Click throughs pick up again after dinner, from 7-10 PM. Don't time emails to be sent in the middle of the night, because it's a dead zone. One survey found that Thursday is the best day for both open rates and click throughs.

Blogging: 70% of people say they read blogs in the morning -- especially 11 AM -- with Monday being the highest traffic days for an average blog. However, Thursday is the best day for readers to share you blog posts on social media.who do users read blogs

For those who still care about Facebook: Engagement rates are higher on Thursdays and Friday, because "the less people want to be a work, the more they are on Facebook." The early afternoon is a solid time to post, but not anytime after dinner.

I'm skeptical of these time-of-day studies, because a good story or an important news event will be read regardless of when it happens. But there's no harm in experimenting with the timing of your social media messages to see which works best for you.

Videos Now Online from Network of Trial Law Firms

Network Trial Law Firms, Breaking Bad PanelLawyers can learn a lot about effectively marketing their capabilities from the new videos just published online by the Network of Trial Law Firms. A dozen nicely-edited videos, targeted for corporate clients, are now on the Network's free CLE page.

Each one includes a link to the speakers' PowerPoints, written materials, bio and email address. I wish organizers of other lawyer conferences were so efficient. I've attended too many other seminars where the speakers wrote their slides at the last minute and the organizers never bothered to make them available.

The live presentations were made just 10 days ago at the Network meeting at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach, which was attended by 75 trial lawyers and 75 corporate clients. As you'll see, each presentation is brought home within 20 minutes, the Network's signature format.

It's clear that Video is the Killer App to Get Found in Google. Every month, 40 billion videos are streamed in the U.S. and each month 75 million people watch video, according to Uberflip. What better way for a lawyers to demonstrate their expertise than by recording a polished presentation.

The selection includes: 

  • THE DAUBERT CONUNDRUM, by Jon Barton, Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard (St. Louis, MO)
  • LEGAL HERPETOLOGY 101, by Kevin Schiferl, Frost Brown Todd (Indianapolis, IN)
  • LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION, by Nicole Bearce, Lowenstein Sandler (Roseland, NJ)
  • ISSUES IN INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS, Bill Cronin, Corr Cronin (Seattle, WA)
  • MANAGING YOUR OWN EXPERT IN A MEGA-DOCUMENT CASE, by Lee Davis, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan (Atlanta, GA)
  • CYBER SECURITY: UNDERSTANDING THE RISK, by Janet Nalbandyan, Dykema (Los Angeles, CA)
  • THE WORK OF THE INNOCENCE PROJECT, by David Schultz, Maslon Edleman Borman & Brand (Minneapolis, MN)
  • MANAGING THE MILLENNIAL JUROR, by Jennifer Mountcastle, Thompson Hine (Columbus, OH)

Each time a general counsel plays the video, it's like having a personal audition in their office.


Video: Industries that Will See More Litigation Matters in 2014

Cindy Greenway, Editor in Chief of, interviewed me about the coming surge in litigation that is coming in 2014 according to recently released reports by BTI Consulting and Fulbright & Jaworski. 61% of business clients said they expect to have more litigation matters in the coming year.

Watch this interview to learn more about which practice areas and which industries will have the work.


[Infographic] 20 Captivating Marketing Statistics

2014 Marketing Statistics Infographic



The Seven Sins of Opening a New Law Practice

Jim Calloway, Oklahoma Bar AssoctionsJim Calloway, the director of the Oklahoma Bar Association Management Assistance Program, has a nice set of rules to follow when opening a solo -- or any kind -- of law practice. Tip o' the hat to Technolawyer for spotting The Seven Deadly Sins of Opening a New Solo Law Practice.

1. No clients

The practice of law is an esteemed profession, but a law firm is a business with revenue, expenses and the expectation of making a profit. A business cannot exist without customers nor can a law firm without clients. This does not mean you cannot open your law firm without knowing where your clients will come from. If that were the case, many would not open. But it does mean that client development will be your highest, urgent priority for you to become a success. A website is critical so you can print the address on business cards and stationery. You must send out formal announcements of your new practice to everyone that would appreciate the announcement. You must introduce yourself to local lawyers and business people, as well as judges at the courthouse. This is not a time to be shy or to wait patiently.

2. Too much overhead

Pay close attention to the amount you have each month as overhead. You should also keep a list of other annual and irregular financial obligations. You personally may have to do a lot of things you would rather not have to do instead of paying for them, like cleaning the office. As your revenues grow, you can revisit these items later. But in the early stages, every dollar you do not pay in overhead is a dollar you can take home (or at least not add to your debt load.)

3. Taking on work you cannot do or support
Do not let the need to have new clients tempt you into taking on matters that you cannot handle either because of resources or experience. You want a sustainable business and you do not need dissatisfied clients or grievances sent to the OBA General Counsel. Certainly there will be things you have to learn, but make sure that you are within the capabilities of a new solo lawyer. If a matter seems attractive to handle, but you do not believe you can handle it, ask the prospective client for some brief time to do some research and talk to lawyers that handle these types of matters. Maybe you will find a lawyer willing to team with you and show you how it is done. You may get a fee that is substantially less than handling it alone, but the client will get great service and you will also get a great learning experience.

4. Not paying enough attention to finances and financial reports

Click here to read the rest of The Seven Deadly Sins of Opening a New Solo Law Practice


Should Lawyers Send Paper or Digital Holiday Cards?

Bob Weiss
Bob Weiss

Bob Weiss writing in Attorney at Work asks this provocative question for lawyers anticipating the holidays. Here's a snippet:


There is a significant debate in law firms about whether to produce electronic holiday cards or mail a printed card to clients. People want to know what works best so, in the absence of any definitive research, I took an online poll to find out what lawyers, themselves, like to receive.

The result? Of the 140 lawyers and law firm professionals surveyed, 62 percent said they preferred receiving printed holidays cards. That’s right, printed.

Only 10 percent said they would prefer to receive an e-card, and 28 percent reported it didn’t matter what kind of card was sent. We got responses from corporate, transactional, defense, family law and plaintiff’s attorneys who work in local, regional and national firms.

We then asked if the lawyer should personally sign it when sending a printed card. It was no surprise that 79 percent said yes. Is the impression made on the recipient also better if it is personally signed and includes a brief personal message? Yes, said 81 percent.

For six specific pointers, see Bob's A Few Holiday Card Best Practices

Bob Weiss writes law firm marketing plans, coaches lawyers and speaks regularly at retreats and legal conventions nationwide. He helps attorneys develop dockets of intellectually challenging cases at desirable rates. Considered one of the pioneers of professional services marketing, Bob founded Alyn-Weiss & Associates, Inc. in 1980 and is the author of Marketing in Brief.



Lawyers Have a First Amendment Right to Blog about their Cases

Los Angeles lawyer Simona Farrise
Simona Farris

Lawyers have a first amendment right of free speech to publish blog posts about cases they have won, according to a California appeals court ruling in favor of a plaintiff’s lawyer.

A trial court acted unconstitutionally when it forced Los Angeles lawyer Simona Farrise to remove two pages from her law firm website touting her recent successes against Ford in asbestos cases – while she was litigating an asbestos lawsuit against Ford and Volkswagen.

The case is Christie Steiner et al. v. The Superior Court of Santa Barbara County et al., case number B235347, in the Court of Appeal for the State of California, Second Appellate Division.

Unconstitutional prior restraint

The court order was an illegal prior restraint, “the most serious, and the least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights,” the appeals court said. It was sufficient for the trial court to admonish the jurors not to Google the attorneys or to conduct independent research. “We accept that jurors will obey such admonitions,” the appeals court said.         

Farrise represented a man who contracted lung cancer and alleged that it was caused by exposure to asbestos. After a jury was empaneled, defendant Volkswagen moved for an order requiring her during the trial to remove a page on her website discussing a $1.6 million verdict against Ford and others, stating that “at least one jury managed to successfully navigate defendants’’ courtroom confusion and find these companies at fault.” A second page described a $4.3 million jury verdict against Ford.

Provocative and prejudicial

Volkswagen argued that the information was provocative and prejudicial and should not be displayed online during the trial because it “will obviously prejudice the jury process during the trial and deliberations in this case, if it is encounter by a juror.” It argued that juror admonishments are no longer effective in today’s world of 24-hour news, Google, Twitter and the Internet.

The trial court granted the motion and Farrise took the two pages down. The judge also admonished the jurors, “During the trial, do not read, listen to, or watch any news reports about this case. … This prohibition extends to the use of the Internet in any way…”

Farrise restored the two pages to her firm website when the trial ended and filed the appeal.

The appeals court sided with her, saying “it must be assumed that a jury does its duty, abides by cautionary instructions, and finds facts only because of those facts are proved.” It added that the trial judge did not have authority to impose, as a prophylactic measure, an order requiring Farrise to remove pages from her website.

And fittingly, if you check her website now, you can see that Farrise even has a blurb about winning this free-speech case.


Tags: Lawyers Offer the Perfect Mix of Business Development and Education

Network of Trial Law FirmsIt’s rare to see business development and CLE combined perfectly, and the Network of Trial Law Firms has achieved it as 75 trial lawyers and 75 corporate clients convene today and tomorrow at the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach.

Focusing on trial and litigation, the Network is a not-for-profit corporation with 6,000 attorneys in 23 independent trial law firms practicing in more than 135 offices. It’s the 10th largest lawyer network – see

Today began with CLE presentations by Network lawyers on Daubert motions, eyewitness testimony and internal investigation plus two client panel discussions on white collar crime and class actions. What is impressive is that the network actually makes CLE interesting, by allotting the speakers 20 minutes to make their point, and by making their PowerPoints sparkle with video and dramatic graphics.

All presentations are videotaped and uploaded to the Network’s YouTube-powered TRIAL.COM online video presentations at www.TRIAL.COM/cle

It’s a tech-savvy group. Attendees can tweet their thoughts using #trialcom, and join in any of 14 Trial Area Groups on LinkedIn, ranging from banking litigation to transportation law.

The genius of the conference is that lawyers invite clients and their spouses to join them at a first-class resort on the Pacific Ocean, where there are nature walks, golf and shopping trips. It offers a unique setting to deepen client relationships – which is the heart of business development. The in-house clients like it too because they can meet skilled trial lawyers from across the country.

Everything, especially the food, is first-class. The Network meeting makes bar association CLEs with stale coffee and starchy snacks seem grim in comparison. There are dozens of networks lawyers can belong to, but if you’re trying to build your practice you should ask yourself the following questions.

Are the meetings so desirable that clients ask to be invited? Do the meetings include lots of in-house corporate counsel, or just other competing lawyers? Do you get a chance to demonstrate your expertise by making a presentation to the attendees? And most importantly: do you return from the meeting with new business?


Half of All Law Firm Mergers Fail

law firm mergers, car crashIn the third quarter alone, there were 19 law firm mergers and acquisitions announced in the United States, according to Altman Weil MergerLine. There have been a total of 58 law firm combinations announced this year – up 41% compared to the first three quarters of 2012, and the total may top out at 70. According to Altman Weil:

  • Stinson Morrison Hecker, a Midwestern law firm headquartered in Kansas City, announced it would merge with Minneapolis-based Leonard Street and Deinard.
  • Lewis and Roca, a 175-lawyer firm based in Phoenix, merged with Rothgerber Johnson & Lyons, a 75-lawyer Denver-based law firm.
  • Ballard Spahr and Schiff Hardin both picked up small New York City firms in July. 
  • Blank Rome acquired a Houston maritime boutique in August, and Thompson Coburn planted its flag in Los Angeles in September

"Yet a look at history reveals that about 50% of all mergers subsequently fail," says the contrarian voice of Robert Denney in his November RDA Communique. He first raised this point in 2011. "In many cases thereason(s) for the eventual failures were issues that were evident beforehand and should have raised red flags about proceeding with the merger."

Denney identifies 15 red flags that are often issues that can never be resolved. They include post-merger client departures, wide differences in partner incomes, and contrasting work ethics. The list goes on to include one firm having substantial debt or an unfunded pension liability, practices that do not fit and conflicts that cause a major rainmaker to leave.

For further reading, Denney recommends his article A Primer on Law Firm Mergers.

Webinar Nov. 14: Secrets of Effective Legal Marketing

Lawmarketing webinarAttention Lawyers: have you lost time and money on marketing that didn't work?

On November 14th, LawMarketing will host a webinar with Laura Lee Sparks of Legal Marketing Maven where she will reveal what other marketing companies do not want you to know.

Secrets of Effective Legal Marketing:
How to Cut Through the Hype and Implement Timeless Strategies For Your Firm That Will Bring Proven and Measurable Results for 2014

Click here to register

Time: 1pm Eastern / 10am Pacific

Investment: $47

Have you uttered any of these comments?

“Online marketing doesn’t work!”

“Facebook is no place for a serious professional.”

“My practice area is boring and the media has no reason to speak to me.”

“Direct mail marketing is dead.”

As it turns out, you are sadly mistaken.

But, it isn’t your fault. You just haven’t experienced the great results that you can obtain when you do marketing for your law firm the right way. Most generalized marketing agencies just don’t get it.

In this webinar you can learn the most common reasons that your previous marketing attempts may have failed and how you can avoid them.

Here's what you will learn when you join us for this webinar:

  • Why your website may be a dud and isn’t generating new business
  • How to get the media interested in what you have to share
  • How to stay “top-of-mind” so that you are the lawyer your prospects and referral sources think of when they or their clients need you
  • The real deal when it comes to get ranked on the first page of search engines
  • What the 3 R’s of every successful marketing plan are and how to easily implement them and get them running on autopilot in your firm.

In the end, we will share with you our own special recipe for marketing a firm. Our system was developed based on our own successes and the constantly changing environment of online and offline marketing.

Implementing this successful approach in your own law firm is much easier than you have been led to believe! You really can do it without the help of a big-time, budget-busting marketing firm!

Make 2014 the Year You Finally Meet Your Financial and Marketing Goals

Discover how to kick your marketing into high-gear in a way that’s respectable, appreciated and provides tremendous value to the people in your community.

Invite your associates and staff members to attend this training and learn what it takes to develop a consistent marketing plan that attracts better quality clients, effortlessly produces referrals and positions you to meet or EXCEED your financial goals in 2014.

About your presenters:

Laura Lee Sparks, Founder & CEO, Legal Marketing Maven
Laura Lee Sparks is the Founder and CEO of Legal Marketing Maven, a full service outsourcing firm for estate planning and elder law attorneys designed to train virtual and in-house staff and provide the tools and resources lawyers need to implement consistent, focused, diversified marketing in their law practice. 


Cindy Greenway, Editor in Chief, LawMarketing.comCindy Greenway, Editor in Chief,
Cindy Greenway, Editor in Chief, LawMarketing.comCindy is the Editor in Chief of, the premier online resource attorneys and legal marketers turn to for information on the business side of law. She is passionate about online marketing and helping attorneys stay up-to-date with the most current marketing strategies available to support the growth of their law practice. Cindy has supported businesses across the globe since 2003 by implementing marketing strategies to support increased online visibility and revenue generation.


Compelling Reasons for Law Firms to have a Mobile Website

At a recent meeting of the Network of Trial Law Firms I described compelling reasons for law firms to have mobile website, especially because 3 out of 4 people who search for a lawyer go online to find a lawyer.

What's changed is that smart phones are now outselling PCs, and the number of mobile internet users is now at 1.5 Billion. But mobile users operate differently from PC users. Many homes now have three-screen setups -- watching TV, using apps on a tablet and texting on a smart phone.

In this presentation, I cover:

  • How mobile websites differ from regular websites
  • What IS and is NOT mobile-friendly
  • Duda mobile: creating a mobile site on the fly
  • Responsive design vs. mobile first
  • Case Study: McCarter & English mobile site

Having a mobile website will help a lawyer sell more effectively to clients, in several scenarios:

  • Lawyer-to-Lawyer Referral: A lawyer’s name is given to a GC as the best person to handle a matter. The GC goes to your website on his iPhone to validate the lawyer’s credentials. Your mobile website or profile on a legal directory should highlight your attorney profile, the firm’s practice areas, and your expertise (e.g. Blog).
  • A lawyer is at a conference and meets a prospective client. The lawyer mentions an alert the firm issued and is able to display it instantly. Your mobile website or profile on a legal directory should highlight your alerts, publications and news.
  • Client meeting at firm: A client is going to a meeting at the firm and needs directions. The client can’t recall the address. Your mobile website or profile on a legal directory should highlight your offices, maps and directions.

Obviously, the most important link to click on a mobile website is "Find a lawyer." Smart firms will design mobile bios that allow one-touch functionality to send an email, call you, get directions and view your website.


Larry Bodine, journalist, lawyer, law firm marketerFor more on this topic, see Get New Business with Mobile Marketing. Larry Bodine is a journalist, lawyer and business development advisor to law firms. He is currently pursuing a project to publish legal news for consumers in newspapers, TV stations and web sites. For more information, you can reach him at 520.577.9759 and



Your Law Firm has a 12% Chance of Winning an RFP

RFP proposalA law firm’s chances of winning an RFP drop to less than 12% if it hasn't helped their client prepare the RFP, according to The BTI Consulting Group’s research.

I've long been skeptical that competing in RFPs is a realistic way for law firms to get new business. Most of them are "wired," with the winner predetermined in advance, others are fishing expeditions to find out fees, and some are bullying tactics to force a company's law firms to lower their rates. Even if a law firm wins an RFP, often no work is actually assigned.

They're a bad idea all around and BTI's research confirms it. "The only people who dislike RFPs more than professional services firms are clients," the report says. "The RFP process is neither fair nor objective."

Law firms that haven’t helped their client determine what needs to go into an RFP have already lost by the time it arrives at their office.

“The RFP is a wake-up call—a signal your client relationship is at risk because you are no longer winning work on a sole-source basis,” comments Michael B. Rynowecer, President of BTI. “The RFP is your chance (in some instances your last chance) to make a mark with clients.”

BTI conducted more than 13,000 independent, individual interviews with C-level executives at Fortune 1000 companies and large organizations. Now in its 25th year, BTI conducts the only continuous benchmarking market study of C-suite expectations of professional services firms.

Larry Bodine, journalist, lawyer, law firm marketerLarry Bodine is a journalist, lawyer and business development advisor to law firms. He is currently pursuing a project to publish legal news for consumers in newspapers, TV stations and web sites. For more information, you can reach him at 520.577.9759 and