2021 Tech Summit – NYSBA

I will be presenting two programs as part of this year’s Tech Summit with the New York State Br Association, both on Day 2 of the Summit (December 8, 2021) –

Using Tech to Manage Your Time and Control Your Calendar
Learn Outlook-specific strategies for many of the most common productivity needs of busy legal professionals today: managing multiple projects, clients & tasks; maintaining “traction” when dealing with tasks and interruptions; clearing the clutter in your mind for better focus; keeping staff on task; tracking “who owes you what” and getting that information on time; and better managing your calendar and contacts for better time and relationship management.

Get More Business Using Tech | Linkedin for Lawyers
This non-MCLE practical guidance session every lawyer needs on using technology to market your practice, getting new clients and making it rain.

Topics for the two-day Summit include:

  • Emerging Technology & Trends
  • Social Media Ethics
  • Privacy and Data Security Issues in Telemedicine
  • Artificial Intelligence in Litigation: Discovery & Admissibility
  • The “Name” of the Game: How NIL, NFTs, and eSports are Changing the Sports Industry
  • Metaverse 101: An Introduction
  • Top Tech Gadgets Every Lawyer Needs to be More Efficient in Law Practice
  • Taming the E-mail Beast: Key Skills and Strategies for Managing Your E-mail Overload
  • Controlling Your Calendar | Using Outlook to Manage Your Time, Projects/Tasks, People, and Ideas
  • Get More Business Using Tech | Linkedin, Attorney Advertising Using Social Media and Lead Generation
  • Open Hour for Questions and Answers – Lawyers and Tech – Open Forum Share Your Knowledge and Tips and Pose Questions to the Panel | Network with Your Colleagues

Register and get full details, including pricing, at: https://nysba.org/events/2021-tech-summit/

 

Why I’m Not a Fan of “Best Practices” in Legal Marketing

Are you following current best practices in your marketing?

Actually, I hate the term “best practices,” and here are three reasons I think lawyers should consider ignoring them – at least when it comes to their marketing.

First, the term “best practices” implies that there is a one-size-fits-all approach that you should take. But the whole point of marketing and business development is for you to stand out in the marketplace and to differentiate yourself from other lawyers who do what you do. But if everyone is doing exactly the same thing, how can you stand out?

Second, every lawyer has different strengths and weaknesses. If you are more comfortable connecting one-on-one than speaking to large groups, why force yourself to pursue speaking engagements? You will only be uncomfortable, stressed-out, or you will avoid marketing entirely because you don’t want to do public speaking. Similarly, if you struggle with writing, why start a blog?

The best results will always be achieved when you enjoy what you are doing so that it doesn’t feel like work.

And finally, not all clients are created equal – different clients have different needs and consume information in different ways. A “best practice” that doesn’t meet your clients where they are isn’t a best practice at all.

So the next time you hear about a “best practice” evaluate for yourself whether the recommendation is one that makes sense for you, your clients and your practice.

Tell me in the comments what marketing activities you hate (or love). And don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel so you don’t miss any of my videos!

More legal marketing videos:

How to Create Compelling Case Studies for Your Law Firm

Case studies can be a useful way of helping turn prospects into clients for your law firm, but not all case studies are effective. (To see my video about why to use case studies in your law firm marketing, click here).

There are 7 steps to creating a great case study:

  1. First and foremost, a good case study should be created from the perspective of the client, not the lawyer, because you want your ideal clients to see themselves in the case study. Let’s face it – no one really cares about you, they only care about themselves and what you can do for them. The client is the star; the spotlight should be on them and their story.
  2. Choose cases that will resonate the most with your ideal clients.
  3. Next, introduce the client – Who are they? What are they all about? What is their situation? What are they trying to accomplish?
  4. Introduce the drama – What problem is the client facing? What obstacles are in their way? How is the problem affecting them?
  5. What was your role? What actions did you take on the client’s behalf to solve their problem? How did you guide them through it?
  6. What was the outcome? How was the client’s problem solved? What impact did that have on their life or their business?
  7. Finally, iIf possible, get the client’s permission and participation. This will not only allow you to add more detail to your case study (and possibly use the client’s name) without running into ethical problems, but it will help to create a more convincing story. And as an added bonus, it helps reinforce the value you provided to that client.

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel so you don’t miss any of my videos!

Billing Best Practices: How to Ethically Meet Clients’ Expectations

Join me and Carol Schiro Greenwald, Ph.D  for this webinar focusing on ways to capture more revenue by eliminating clients’ excuses for non-payment, late payment, reduced payment, or complaints about fees. Clients expect invoices to arrive in a timely manner and to contain sufficient information to describe the services provided, written in a way they can understand. When written from the client’s point of view, invoices can show progress vis-a-vis the expectations set in the engagement letter. We will discuss the ethics related to setting and collecting fees, referencing both the ABA and New York State Rules of Professional Responsibility as well as relevant ethics opinions and articles.
You will learn:
• How to meet the pricing and billing expectations of 21st-century clients
• How to discuss billing and pricing with clients
• Procedures you should have in place to set and meet client expectations
• Adding payment plans and other options to meet clients halfway when they are struggling financially
• Modern payment alternatives
ABA Model Rules of Professional Responsibility, New York Rules of Professional Conduct, and ethics opinions governing billing and payments, including:
• Communication with clients about billing
• Reasonableness of fees and scope of work
• Changing fees during representation
• Retainer fees
• Acceptability of alternative payment methods
• Trust accounts and fiduciary duties
• Engagement agreements

Use Case Studies to Demonstrate Value

I love a good story, don’t you? 

In my last video, I talked about a quick and easy way to develop content for all of your firm’s marketing needs, by answering your clients’ frequently asked questions. Today, I want to talk about another kind of content – case studies.

Most people love a good story, so why not take advantage of that by telling the stories of your clients in your marketing materials in case studies?

Why Should Lawyers Create Case Studies?

  • Case studies help to educate your potential clients by showing them what you do and who you do it for.
  • They give examples of outcomes you’ve achieved with other clients in the past, and show how you did it.
  • They help build trust – a potential client will see that you have already handled a similar problem successfully.
  • They’ll see that you’ve already helped people like them achieve their desired results.
  • They illustrate your expertise, rather than just telling people about it.
  • They offer concrete evidence that the firm can do what it says.
  • They help demonstrate your approach and how you provide value to your clients.
  • If written properly, case studies are more engaging and entertaining than long explanations of legal concepts; they show how those legal concepts work in the real world.

How Can Lawyers Use Case Studies?

Case studies can be used to pitches or proposals for new clients, in addition to websites, blog posts, newsletters, and more.

And case studies don’t have to be just written text – consider having the lawyers in your office record video case studies, talking about matters they’ve handled for their clients. You might even use Videosocials to record them! (That’s how I record almost all of mine – email me if you want to come as a guest to a Videosocials meeting).

Watch Out for Ethics Pitfalls

As always, if you don’t have consent from your clients to talk about their case, you should be sure you don’t include client names or other identifying information in your case studies, and you should include any disclaimers that might be required in your jurisdiction.

I’m Allison Johs from Legal Ease Consulting, and if you want to learn more about how to create compelling case studies for your law firm, stay tuned for my next video. In the interim, you can see more on legal marketing at any of the links below:

Do You Know Where Your Best Clients Come From?

Do you know where your best clients are coming from? Do you keep track, or are you just relying on your memory? Do you know how many of your inquiries or initial consultations became paying clients last year? If you’re like many of the solo and small firm lawyers I talk to, your answer to these questions is probably no.

Watch the video, or read below on to find out more.

I was talking to a client last week about his marketing. We were trying to build a profile of his best clients and referral sources. But when I asked him was who his best referral sources were and how are his best clients coming to him, he didn’t know. He had a couple of ideas, but no hard data to check them against.

If you don’t keep track of how clients are coming to you, how do you know what’s working? How do you know whether your marketing and business development resources are being expended the right way? How do you know whether you need to change something in your marketing to attract more clients who are the right fit for your practice or to change your intake and initial consultation process to get more of those potential clients to become actual clients?

The answer is that you probably don’t.

This is some of the most important data you have in your practice, so if you haven’t been keeping track up until now, it’s time to start. It doesn’t have to be complicated – it could be as simple as setting up an Excel spreadsheet.

You’ll want to track:

  • The name of the potential client;
  • The date of each contact with the client;
  • The method of each contact (phone, email, etc.);
  • How the client came to you (be specific – if a client saw a presentation or seminar you gave, which one was it? If they found you on the internet, did they find your website, your blog, or through an attorney directory? Who referred them to you? Did they click through a link from your email newsletter?)
  • If the client comes for an initial consultation, note the date of the consultation.
  • If the potential client becomes a client, keep track of the date that they did so, the fee they’re being charged, and the specific problem they needed you to address.

Review this information regularly to determine which referral sources are most effective and to help you follow up with potential clients. The spreadsheet can help you focus on your best referral sources, improve your referrals from other sources, and keep in touch with potential clients that haven’t yet become paying clients. It can also help you understand your sales cycle better so that you can plan better and improve cash flow.

Learn more about legal marketing:

Quick and Easy Content: FAQs

Are you struggling to find topic ideas for your firm’s website, blog, newsletter, social media accounts, or presentations? Today’s tip is an easy way to develop topics for all of these and more.

One of the easiest ways to develop topic ideas for all of your law firm’s content needs is by using FAQs, or frequently asked questions.

  • What are the questions almost every client asks (or doesn’t ask, but wants the answers to)?
  • What topics do you need to cover with all new clients when they come to your office?
  • What questions do you staff receive on a daily basis from clients or potential clients?
  • Questions can be substantive (“How much money will I get for my case?” “What is an irrevocable trust?”) or procedural (“How should I prepare for my deposition?” “What do I need to bring to my closing?”)

Creating content around frequently asked questions saves time for both your potential clients and your firm. They help build trust in your law firm. FAQs can also help set expectations for potential clients about what to expect when working with your firm.

FAQs can help keep web visitors on your site longer, especially if you link to longer resources on your site from within the FAQs. For example, you might create an FAQ page on your website that answers questions in a concise manner and then link to a more complete page or blog post that addresses the same topic.

Since FAQs are just that – frequently asked – they are great for SEO because they mirror exactly the kinds of questions your potential clients may be typing into a search engine. Not only that, but if your FAQs are presented in a question-and-answer format, they can improve your results in voice search as well.

Frequently asked questions present an almost unlimited opportunity to develop content for your law firm. Every time a client or colleague asks a question, it is a potential FAQ topic, because if one client has the question, it is highly likely that others do as well.

Please leave me a comment and tell me what questions you have about marketing and running your practice – maybe I’ll address them in a future post/video!

For more about marketing see:

Counteracting Negative Online Reviews

You may have heard that the best way to counteract negative reviews online is by outnumbering the bad reviews with good reviews – as a matter of fact, I mentioned that in my last video. But did you know that there is a right way and a wrong way to do that?

One big no-no in responding to a negative online review is to post fake positive reviews to counteract the negative review. This is one tactic that has been frequently employed by some reputation management companies. It is an absolute no for lawyers. It violates what I sometimes call the “golden ethics rule” for legal marketing: lawyers are prohibited from disseminating false or misleading information about themselves or their practices. Fake or made-up reviews fall squarely into this category, whether they are posted by the lawyer themselves or by a reputation management company or other third party.

And that brings me to the next question: should a lawyer write the review for the client, and have the client approve or “sign off” on the review? This is a bit more of a grey area, but I wouldn’t recommend it, even if a client asks you to just “write something for them and they’ll sign it.”

The most effective reviews or testimonials are those that are written in the client’s own words, and are based on the client’s experience. But you do want to make it as easy as possible for clients to write you positive reviews, and there are several ways that you can do that. For example, you might consider one or more of the following:

  • Having a third party (like Legal Ease Consulting) interview the client for you
  • Establish a firm interview team that conducts post-matter interviews of clients
  • Suggest areas clients they can discuss in their review (such as responsiveness, timeliness, etc)
  • Send clients links to your Google Business Page to leave a review
  • Request LinkedIn recommendations from clients

If you want help getting some great client reviews, testimonials or case studies, send me an email to see how I can help.

See more about marketing:

What Should You Do When You Get a Negative Online Review?

What should you do if you receive a bad online review from a client? In my last video, I discussed three mistakes lawyers make when responding to bad online reviews. But what should you do if you receive a bad review?

First – feel free to vent. Talk to your spouse, your colleague, or type out a response to every allegation the client has made. Just don’t post it online or actually send it to your client, or you might cause the client to escalate and leave even more bad reviews.

Second – remember that your response to a negative online review is really for the next potential client who might be reading the review, not for the client who wrote the review. Respond to the review in a calm, measured tone. Be professional. Let future potential clients see how well you handle conflict and de-escalate the situation. Let future clients know that this is not the experience you want clients to have with your firm. You might even be able to turn a negative review into a positive.

Third – the best way to counteract bad reviews is to outweigh them with good reviews. Most good clients will recognize a crazy person who would never be satisfied as an anomaly, particularly if there are good, substantive reviews and client stories that outnumber the bad ones. Get into the habit of asking good clients to leave you a review. Set up a system to capture all of the great things clients say about you so when a bad review comes, it won’t carry as much weight.

Not sure where to start getting good client reviews and testimonials? I can help. Send me an email so we can set up a time to chat!

Negative Online Review? Avoid These 3 Mistakes

What do you do when you get a negative review online?

Discovering that someone has left a bad review of you or your law firm online can be a lawyer’s worst nightmare. But you can make that nightmare even worse by the way you respond. So here are three mistakes lawyers should avoid when responding to negative online review.

Illustration of hand leaving star review on a device
  1. Going negative.

Resist the urge – as tempting as it might be – to respond in kind to a negative review online. All that does is make it look like you’re arguing publicly with your client. Now is not the time for you to tell your side of the story. You may even anger the client further, causing them to leave even more negative reviews.

2. Revealing client confidences in a response to an online review.

It can be tempting if you’re trying to tell your side of the story to reveal things that normally you would never reveal in an attempt to show why you are right and the client is wrong, or to demonstrate that you did everything you possibly could for the client. But don’t make a bad online review worse by turning it into an ethics complaint.

3. Ignoring or failing to acknowledge a negative review.

While it may not be the time to tell your story, you do want to make sure that you are giving some sort of response.

Do:

  • Be brief
  • Acknowledge the concern or complaint of the client
  • Show your concern
  • Encourage the client to contact you offline
  • If you know the identity of the client, indicate in your response that you will contact them offline to resolve the issue.

Don’t respond substantively.

If you’d like more videos on how to respond to online reviews, please subscribe to my YouTube channel or see these videos below:

Think Marketing is Unprofessional?

Do you avoid marketing because you think it’s a little sleazy, or because you don’t want it to seem like you’re begging for business?

If this is how you feel about marketing, you’re not alone. I’ve heard this sentiment about marketing throughout my career, both as a practicing lawyer and as a consultant for lawyers and law firms. But today I’m here to suggest that there is another way to think about marketing that might actually make it something you look forward to doing.

For a long time in the U.S. lawyers didn’t advertise their services at all – it was seen as unseemly. The attitude was that lawyers are professionals and that advertising was beneath them. When some of those restrictions were lifted and lawyers started advertising, some lawyers were appalled at the ads they were seeing and the ways that lawyers were advertising their services with over-the-top ads with screaming or tasteless comments or explosions, etc. Bar associations across the country attempted to create rules that would prevent attorney advertising from demeaning the profession. For many lawyers, that perception of the sleazy lawyer ad has stuck.

Understandably, lawyers who don’t want to be associated with those kinds of advertising methods are skeptical. But here’s the thing – advertising and marketing are two different things. Marketing doesn’t have to be begging for work or looking as if you are not competent because you’re looking for business. And not all advertising has to be over the top.

Let’s get back to basics.

Why did you go to law school or decide to choose the practice area you’re in?

The word HELP with one figure helping another to climb on the P

If you’re like most lawyers I talk to, you wanted to make a difference and to help people. You work hard for your clients and your goal is to get them the very best outcome you can achieve for them. You sincerely believe that you do good work for your clients and that the clients you work with are in a better position after having worked with you than they were before.

And if that’s the case, you’d like to help more people who are just like the clients you have already helped. Your goal in marketing your law practice is not to beg for business or for money, but to identify and attract the clients you can provide the most service to – the clients who already need your help, but who either don’t know who you are or who don’t know how you can help them. You have something those people already need. You’re not trying to convince people who you can’t help or who don’t need your expertise to give you money – you’re simply trying to find those who do.

If you can think about marketing in these terms, and approach your marketing as a way to find people that you can help, you may be less inclined to avoid it.

Do you want help to create a marketing plan with a service mindset? Please contact me!

More videos on legal marketing:

Get More Out of Online Networking

Are you disappointed with the results you’re seeing from LinkedIn or other online networking? Maybe it’s time to modify your approach.

If you went to a live networking event and all you did was talk about yourself, you probably wouldn’t get the best results. But that’s exactly the mistake I see a lot of people making on LinkedIn and in their other online networking. They’re so concerned about what they are going to post, how often they should post, and how they can improve their visibility that they forget what networking is really all about.

It’s about building relationships. And in order to do that, it can’t be a one-way conversation. 

If you want to get more out of your online networking efforts, you need to approach it the same way you approach networking in real life. It’s about engaging with other people.

Visibility is important, but visibility alone won’t build relationships, and relationships are what drives business. People do business with people they know, like, and trust. If you want people to engage with you, you need to engage with them. You need to nurture your network.

Illustration of people engaging in social media

Spend as much time engaging with the posts and other online activity of the people in your network as you do posting to your own feed. The more likes and comments a post receives, the more that post will be seen in the feeds of the other people in your network. But don’t just go around liking things willy nilly, or leaving meaningless comments.

Take the time to say something thoughtful, to ask a question, or to provide your take on the other person’s post. Really read the article they’ve shared or watch the video they’ve posted so that you can provide meaningful commentary. If you want to share their content, tell your audience why you’ve shared it and what they might get out of reading or watching.

Not only will this kind of engagement encourage your connections to engage more with your posts, but your thoughtful comments may lead people in your connection’s network back to you to expand your network.

If you’d like more help with LinkedIn, pick up a copy of my book, Make LinkedIn Work for You, or register for the online LinkedIn Essentials course.

Learn more about LinkedIn:

How to Get More Traffic to Your LinkedIn Company Page

Do you have a LinkedIn Page for your business or law firm but don’t have many followers?

One of the most frequent questions I get about LinkedIn Pages (which are for businesses, as opposed to Profiles for individuals) is, “How do I get more traffic to my LinkedIn Page?” It used to be very difficult. You could add a follow button to your website, or send individual messages or posts with links to follow your Page. But I could never understand why business owners didn’t have the same ability to directly invite people to like or follow their LinkedIn company or firm page that business owners have on Facebook. Now you finally do.

LinkedIn has now added the ability to invite your Connections to Like your LinkedIn Page for your law firm, and it’s very easy to do. There’s a new invite connections module on the right sidebar on your Admin Page, or you can use the tools dropdown in the top right corner and click on invite connections to choose which connections to invite to like your Page.

You’ll also want to make sure that all of your employees have LinkedIn Profiles and that they list the firm as their current employer (Make sure they list it exactly the way it is listed on the firm’s Company Page). When they do so, they’ll automatically become followers of the Company Page, and they’ll show as employees of the firm when someone views the Company Page.

If you’ve uploaded your logo to the Company Page, that logo will also show on the employees’ Profiles, and it will be linked to your Company Page. This way, viewers of your employees’ Profiles on LinkedIn will be directed to your Company Page if they click on the logo.

Finally, don’t forget that when visitors reach your LinkedIn Page, you want to make sure that it’s stocked with valuable content that they can use!

Get a free copy of my LinkedIn tips sheet here – or watch more videos about LinkedIn:

Are You Using Keywords Strategically on Your Website?

Are you using keywords strageically on your law firm website?

Keywords are words that your potential clients would use to search the internet for a lawyer who does what you do.

The golden rule of writing website copy is to write for human beings first, and search engines second. So you should never force or “stuff” keywords into your site. But as you are writing your web copy, you should think about using keywords strategically in a way that flows naturally on the page.

What do I mean by using keywords strategically? Well, did you know that each page on your website should target a different set of keywords?

And did you know that there are certain “power positions” on each webpage that Google and other search engines pay more attention to?

tiles spelling out SEO

When reading your web pages, search engines use algorithms, or specific sets of rules to determine what the page is about and to decide whether to return that page as a result in a search query. And they give more importance to certain elements on your web page, because the search engines assume that the copy that is used in those elements is likely a good indicator of what the page is about.

There are 5 power positions on your web pages where you should consider including your targeted keywords:

  • Headlines – especially the main (H1) headline on the page
  • Subheads
  • Bold text
  • Link text
  • Captions

If your keywords are incorporated into those power positions, your web page will rank higher in search for those keywords.

As I’ve mentioned in other videos, to be most effective, keywords also should be incorporated in your site’s meta-data, the behind the scenes code for the page that search engines see, but visitors don’t.

See more videos about law firm websites:

3 C’s of Strong Websites

Did you know that 75% of people judge a business by their website?

While lawyers may think this isn’t true for them, the fact is that, especially now, when many of our encounters are purely virtual, more and more potential clients will be judging you by your website.

A weak website can cost you up to 50% of your potential business.[i]

Let’s talk about three C’s for strong websites: clear, client-focused, and consistent. Let’s look at each one.

Clear

Attention spans are getting shorter by the day. Most people give your website only 8 seconds before they click away if they can’t find what they want or they aren’t sure they’re in the right place. I talked about this a bit in a previous video in relation to your Home page, but not every web visitor lands on your Home page first. Clarity is important on every page of your website.

That means that in the first 8 seconds, it should be clear to any visitor what your law firm does, who you do it for, where you are located, how to find what they are looking for, and what to do next.

[To keep your message clear, text should be easy to read – preferably dark text on a light background – and images should be related to the content of the site.]

Client-focused

Next, your website needs to be focused on your clients. Many law firm websites are weak because they focus more on the law firm than the client. Your website is about your firm, but it is for your clients.

To be client-focused, your website should speak to one client at a time, as if you’re having a conversation with them.

It should instantly solve a need for them; you want your ideal client to  land on your site and immediately think that you’re the solution for them because you understand their problem and know how to solve it.

And it should answer their most common questions.

To do all of that, you need to know your potential clients, their needs, and how best to speak to them.

Consistent

The third C is consistent – your website needs to have a consistent voice in the copy throughout the site, and it should flow logically.

The look and feel needs to be consistent throughout the site as well. Page layouts, headers, footers, and navigation should be consistent. [If navigation is at the top of the page on the Home page, that’s where it should be elsewhere on the site.] You want your potential clients to stay engaged and to be sure that they haven’t accidentally navigated to a different site.

Is your law firm website clear, client-focused and consistent?


[i] https://www.business.com/articles/7-website-design-mistakes-that-can-hurt-conversion/

See more of my videos about law firm websites: