Bankruptcy Lawyer Sees New Business from Participation in Online Legal Advice Forum

LexisNexis recently spoke with David L. Gibbs, senior associate attorney for The Gibbs Law Firm, APC, a bankruptcy, business and real estate firm in San Clemente, Calif. Gibbs is an active participant in'S Ask A Lawyer.

LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell®: Can you tell me about your law practice? Who are your typical clients and how does a new client typically find you?

David L. Gibbs: Our clients are primarily homeowners in our small town in South Orange County, Calif., who experience problems with their homes or other real estate they own. Most of it is residential foreclosure activity. The single biggest driver of our business is word of mouth, because it is such a small community.

But more and more we are receiving leads from online sources, including and the Ask A Lawyer section on

LNMH: How long have you been participating on Ask A Lawyer?

DLG: It's been almost a year.

LNMH: I heard that you've gotten several new clients as a result of your Ask A Lawyer work. Some of the other attorneys I've talked to have told me that lawyers shouldn't expect to get new business from Ask A Lawyer because its primary benefit is search engine optimization. Why do you think you've had success in driving new business where others haven't?

DLG: It's probably a combination of factors: The sheer number of answers I'm providing and the areas of law where I'm posting.

LNMH: What about the other benefits you've seen from your participation? You mentioned the links back to your website.

DLG: I haven't tried to quantify the search engine optimization benefits. I have gone into Google Webmaster Tools, looked at the profile for our website and seen click-thrus from to our site, so I assume it's working. I just have to think that just being on and posting frequently is helping drive traffic to our website.

LNMH: How much time do you spend in the average week answering questions on Ask A Lawyer?

DLG: I'm not on there daily, but when I do get on, I usually spend about an hour at a shot, and I do that a couple times a week. So probably two to three hours a week.

LNMH: Are you doing this during office hours or on your own time?

DLG: Mostly during office hours. For example, I'll jump on if I have a half an hour free and don't have time to start something new. Or if it's slow, I'll go onto and spend an hour or so answering questions.

LNMH: What's the strangest or most memorable question you've ever answered?

DLG: [Laughter]

LNMH: The laugh makes me think there must be one or two.

DLG: There are tons of them. I'd have to say that landlord-tenant law is the most frequent source of weird questions. They're all over the map. It seems that about half of the questions are comical in some respect. Not comical in the sense of making fun of people, but weird stuff happens in that arena. You hear about landlords peeping on their tenants or walking into apartments without any advance notice.

LNMH: Understanding that you probably don't want the competition, would you recommend Ask A Lawyer to a colleague with whom you weren't competing?

DLG: Absolutely. It's a great tool and the fact that it's still free is fantastic.

Ask A Lawyer is a good resource for consumers. And although the search engine optimization benefits are hard to quantify, it can't be a bad thing for attorneys.

LNMH: What advice would you give to other attorneys who want to participate on Ask A Lawyer?

DLG: Limit yourself to areas where you know the law. On other online legal advice forums, I've seen attorneys taking guesses on answers in areas where they don't practice. Don't do that, you look like an idiot. Focus on what you know.

Second, be human. I've seen responses on other online legal advice forums where attorneys seem very condescending and are talking above their audience.

Finally, jump in and get going. It's very easy to do.

What Do I Say To A Prospective Client To Win Their Business?

david ackert, What Do I Say To A Prospective Client To Win Their Business, legal marketing, law firm marketingLearn how to expertly handle business development opportunities with prospects, contacts and new referral sources in our upcoming webinar, What Do I Say To A Prospective Client To Win Their Business? On November 18, 2011, veteran business development expert David Ackert and I will  describe:

  • How to test to see if a prospective client needs an attorney.
  • What you should say about your firm and its capabilities.
  • How to transition from a social conversation to a business dialogue.
  • How to avoid looking like a salesperson. 

Register now for this webinar
Click here to register. Save 20% if you register on or before Nov. 11: fee $240
Save 10% if you register on or before Nov. 15: fee $270
Fee beginning Nov. 16: $300
You can pay online with a credit card. Display the program in a conference room and invite as many attendees as you wish.

Topics Include:
  • Common business development mistakes that attorneys make
  • What clients care about when meeting you
  • How to ask the right questions and listen effectively
  • How to excel in a networking situation
  • Diagnosing a clients' need for service
  • How to overcome client objections to engaging your services
  • How to sell ideas for next steps
  • How to use a proven, step-by-step business development process

Who Should Attend:

  • All Attorneys who want to understand and apply the best professional practices of business/referral discussions for successful business development.
  • Associates looking to develop the right skills for business development and to begin now to develop their networks.
  • Marketing Directors looking for ways to support their attorneys with sound, practical methods.

Click here to signup for this event.

Chicago LMA Presents Law Firm Marketing Awards to 7 Law Firms

Donna Shaft, law firm marketing, business developmentThe Chicago chapter of the Legal Marketing Association presented a dozen "Your Honor" awards for excellence in marketing at a ceremony in a classy Loop restaurant recently.  Law firms were honored with an achievement award in the following categories:

  • Advertising Campaign: Levenfeld Pearlstein LLC & Hunter Design – "Unusually Good"
  • Identity: Davis & Kuelthau – "Positive Change"
  • Promotional & Collateral Materials: Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP – "Demand Something Different"
  • Promotional Gifts: Davis & Kuelthau – "Positive Change: Lockbox"
  • Public Relations / Community Relations: Ice Miller LLP – "Indiana CEO Survey Project"
  • Public Relations / Community Relations: Mayer Brown LLP – "Global Financial Markets Initiative Teleconference Series"
  • Recruiting / Professional Development: Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP – "Demand Something Different"
  • Sales / Business Development: Levenfeld Pearlstein LLP – Rate Freeze 2009
  • Vendor Partner of the Year: Regis Marketing Group – for work with Davis & Kuelthau
  • Web Sites and Other Electronic Media: Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP – Web site Redesign Project

This year, the  judges thought two entries stood out among the others in their categories. To reward the uniqueness and ingenuity of these entries, the judges created a special "Judges' Innovation Award." This category was not available for entry. The two winners in this category were:

The highlight of the evening was the newest inductee into the LMA Chicago Hall of Fame, Donna L.G. Shaft. Shaft has dedicated more than 20 years of her time to the legal marketing profession. She was one of the early presidents of LMA and LMA Chicago, and she served on our chapter board many, many times. Shaft is a frequent volunteer, most notably as chairperson for many committees on the local and international level. As a marketing services consultant, Shaft's client list is a who's who list of professional services firms.