How To Ethically And Without Committing A Grievance; Market Your Law Practice On The Internet

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Since the emergence of the internet and the rising of new technology, the World Wide Web (WWW) has come a long way from its original trend of receiving and supplying information. Today, the …

Since the emergence of the internet and the rising of new technology, the World Wide Web (WWW) has come a long way from its original trend of receiving and supplying information. Today, the continuously changing trends in the WWW and web design now encourage creativity, communication, secure information sharing, collaboration, and functionality. Therefore, the internet is a perfect atmosphere for a law firm and its employees to advertise the company’s name and services. Advertising on the internet is relatively inexpensive compared to traditional media (television, radio, newspaper, etc.) and it can reach the intended target market more effectively. Attorneys must find new ways to reach their client market and can do so through websites, major search engines, emails, blogs, and social networking sites. However, all of these forms of communication with clients or prospective clients must be in compliance with the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct (TDRPC), generally as determined by the Advertising Review Department of the State Bar.

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  • 1. How To Ethically And Without Committing A Grievance: Market Your Law Practice On The Internet What Did We Learn From The Obama Campaign? Did You Know : What Does It All Mean?
  • 2.
    • Presenter: Robert S. “Bob” Bennett
    • Co-Presenter: Ethics Expert Lillian Hardwick
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (1) The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. PH FX EM 713.225.6000 713.225.6001 [email_address] www.bennettlawfirm.com www.bennettlawfirmmed.com WS WS
  • 3. Did You Know? The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (2)
  • 4. What Does It All Mean For You The Lawyer
    • Seeing the bigger picture of incorporating the firm’s website, search engines, blogs, and e-mail will help guide your business towards:
    • Visibility
    • Profitability
    • Relevance
    • Customer Loyalty
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (3)
  • 5. How It Worked For President-elect Obama
    • Create awareness about Barak Obama
      • Helped his campaign raise LARGE amounts of money from small donors over the WWW
    • 59% 1 of all voters took part in the campaign online
      • Sending e-mails
      • Reading political blogs
      • Researching candidates
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (4) 1 Phillip Elliott, Obama’s Online Network Seen as Key to Pushing His Agenda , Houston Chronicle, December 30, 2008, at http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/nation/6187003.html.
  • 6. Obama vs. McCain 2008 Presidential Campaign Here are some comparisons between the Illinois Democrat and Republican rival John McCain: The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (5) FACEBOOK SUPPORTERS Obama: 2,800,000+ McCain: 620,000+ TWITTER FOLLOWERS Obama: 122,000+ McCain: 4,900+ MYSPACE FRIENDS Obama: 870,000+ McCain: 225,400+ YOUTUBE VIDEOS Obama: 1,821 McCain: 330 FLICKR PHOTOS Obama: 50,435 McCain: 95 GOOGLE SEARCHES Obama: 71,000,000 McCain: 61,800,000
  • 7. Obama’s Use Of The Internet And His Website
    • Campaign strategists have turned to the Internet as a way to reach more voters
    • Obama has been the most successful so far:
      • Supporters created 2 million online profiles at MyBarackObama.com
      • Online supporters raised some $500 million for him
      • He used those online profiles as his database to make phone calls during his final campaign days
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (6)
  • 8. Visibility Leads Into Profitability
    • Research a client or their business over the WWW before going into a meeting
      • It can give an attorney a leg up on their competition by having knowledge about what their client’s current situation is
    • Create a monthly report
      • List the firm’s marketing and public relation opportunities
      • Actions taken by the firm regarding those opportunities and the results of the actions such as article publications or attendance at sponsored events will show the firm if it was profitable or not
    • Therefore, a firm needs to take advantage of the current technology in order to create a more profitable business
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (7)
  • 9. The Internet Is More Profitable Than Offline Media Traditional Media And Distribution Channels Emergence Of The Internet E-mail Social Media Sites Online Advertising Business Website Internet Blogs/Newsletters Search Engines
    • Television
    • Radio
    • Newspapers
    • Magazines
    • Mail
    • Phone
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (8)
  • 10. E-mail Marketing
    • Traditional avenues like:
      • Television
      • Radio
      • Print
      • Yellow Pages
    • Remains popular for lawyers, but they’re expensive and not always efficient
    • E-mail is an inexpensive method of reaching clients
      • An outbound e-mail can cost as little as half a cent to deliver
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (9)
  • 11. E-mail Marketing (CONT.)
    • With an e-mail a firm can:
      • Promote it’s services, newsletters and blogs
      • Create firm awareness among its client base
      • Invite people to seminars and special events
      • Send appointment reminders, appreciation memos, and announce when new lawyers have joined the firm
      • Send Birthday wishes, Holiday greetings, and Thank Yous
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (10)
  • 12. Using Your Firm’s Newsletter To Work For You
    • A firm’s newsletter should be…
      • Up to date
      • Short
      • Easy to read
      • Provide essential information to the readers
      • Create awareness about the firm
    • The National Law Firm Marketing Association’s studies have shown that newsletters produce the best return
      • Offers clients educational information
      • Enhance a firm’s image
      • Increase firm awareness
      • Promote the firm’s services
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (11)
  • 13. Why A Business Website?
    • For solo and small firm practitioners, not having a website may mean losing out on new clients
      • Not having a website can make you look:
        • too small
        • too new
        • too unsophisticated
        • too unsuccessful
        • too behind the times to the client
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (12)
  • 14. Why A Business Website?
    • Lawyer’s response: I do not need a website because most of my business comes from referrals
      • The first thing your referral will do is check out your firm’s website before giving you a call to see who and what you are, and how well you’re suited to meet his/her needs
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (13)
  • 15. Benefits Of A Website
    • Clients get to know you and your qualifications at their convenience
    • Emphasize your achievements and demonstrate your expertise
      • Informative articles and other valuable content pertinent to client’s needs can help build trust because you provide service before ever meeting with the client
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (14)
  • 16. Benefits Of A Website (CONT.)
    • Websites save time and improve staff productivity
      • It answers those recurring client questions about:
        • Office hours
        • Location
        • How the legal process typically works
      • It can include intake forms for clients to complete before their first appointment or lists of essential documentation to bring to the appointment
    • Most important, a website with useful content and keywords often found by search engines will reach clients when they are interested 24/7
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (15)
  • 17. A Firm’s Website Is Available to Clients 24/7 The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (16)
  • 18. Search Engine Optimization
    • SEO involves optimizing and refining a website so that it appears higher in search engine results
    • A large majority of Internet users find websites through these popular search engines:
    • Therefore, your firm’s website should be built with both clients and search engines in mind
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (17)
  • 19. Search Engine Optimization (CONT.)
    • Use Keywords like:
        • Firm name
        • Partners’ name
        • Keywords related to the firm’s practice
        • Think about who might be interested in your service’s, and what specifically they might be looking for
    • Search engines demand that your site
      • Up-to-date
      • User friendly
      • Relevant with good information
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (18)
  • 20. Bridging Your Firm’s Website And SEO
    • Your website will ultimately make people decide whether they should do business with you
    • The Home Page of your site must convey:
      • What kind of law you practice
      • How to contact you
      • Depict your geographic identity – ex. Downtown Houston
    • You need an end to end process to win business, from which keywords you use, to the moment you’re found on Google, to making sure your receptionist is polite when fielding calls
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (19)
  • 21. Attracting Attention To Your Firm’s Website And Legal Services
    • Through target ads on:
      • Google
      • MSN
      • Yahoo
      • Other Internet giants
    • Allow businesses an inexpensive way to target potential clients you know are looking for legal services for a particular location or practice area
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (20)
  • 22. Online Advertising Is On The Rise
    • Making budget cuts due to the economic downturn?
      • Direct more of the marketing budget to online advertising because it reaches out to the target market more effectively
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (21)
  • 23. Social Media Sites Are Important For Lawyers
    • AVVO ( http://www.avvo.com/ )
      • Browse free information about everyday legal issues
      • Potential clients can get free, personalized advice from lawyers by searching through the website either by name, city or practice area
      • AVVO also offers potential clients to see ratings and reviews left on a lawyer’s profile by other lawyers or clients
      • AVVO can be used to help generate clients and increase the firm’s presence on the Internet
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (22)
  • 24. Create An Effective AVVO Profile
    • Can Potential Clients Find Me?
    • AVVO has 1 million unique visitors every month
    • Is AVVO Popular?
    • AVVO is the largest directory for lawyers
    • Over 85% of U.S. lawyers have profiles on AVVO
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (23)
  • 25. Let Your Peers and Clients Brag About You
    • Add Client Reviews!
    • It is the #1 thing that clients look at when viewing lawyer profiles
    • Get Peer Endorsements!
    • Positive impact on AVVO profile
    • A way to showcase your network
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (24)
  • 26. Social Media Sites Are Important For Lawyers (CONT.)
    • Texas Bar Circle ( https://texasbar.affinitycircles.com )
      • Almost 100,000 verified State Bar of Texas members in the Official Texas Bar Alumni Network
      • Help generate clients
      • Increase the firm’s presence
      • Keep in touch with Texas attorneys
      • Network with members
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (25)
  • 27. Create A Texas Bar Circle Profile To Meet Local Attorney’s The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (26)
  • 28. Advertising Review Committee (ARC)
    • All electronic advertising must comply with State Bar advertising rules and filing requirements
    • Any ad that is not exempt under Rule 7.07(e) of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct needs to be filed with the State Bar Advertising Review Department
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (27)
  • 29. Advertising Review Committee
    • During the 2007 – 2008 Bar Year, the ARC reviewed 3,000 lawyer advertisements for compliance
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (28)
  • 30. Can I…?
    • Can I post a law firm video on a video sharing website such as YouTube , MySpace or Facebook, without filing with the Advertising Review Department?
      • If it solicits legal services, it is considered public media advertisements
      • Must be filed with the Advertising Review Committee
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (29)
  • 31. Does NOT Need To Be Filed With the ARC
    • Name of the lawyer(s) or law firm
    • Office address
    • Phone numbers and fax numbers
    • Electronic e-mail and web addresses
    • Links to other websites
    • Particular areas of law the lawyer(s) or law firm specializes in or possesses a particular area of competence
    • Areas of law to which the lawyer(s) pr law firm limits the practice
    • Date of admission to the State Bar of Texas or other jurisdictions, including federal courts
    • Foreign language ability
    • Office hours
    • Acceptance of credit cards
    • Acceptance and identification of prepaid legal
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (30)
  • 32. How do I submit advertisements to the State Bar of Texas?
    • Websites:
      • 2 printed copies of initial access page (homepage)
      • Statement of the URL address of the web site
      • 2 copies of application form
      • $75 filing fee
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (31)
  • 33. What Happens If I Don’t Submit My Advertisement For Review?
    • Failure to file is a violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct
      • ARC has the ability to assess a $225 fee and $75 review fee for failure to comply with the filing requirements
      • The ARC may also forward a lawyer’s ad to the Bar’s Chief Disciplinary Counsel for entry into the Bar’s disciplinary system
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (32)
  • 34. Top 5 Mistakes That Lawyers Make With The Advertising Rules
    • Many lawyers fail to recognize the importance of the mandatory filing of non-exempt advertisements within the correct time frame
    • Some lawyers do not take advantage of the option to have the ARC provide an advisory opinion of an ad to check for compliance with the Rules before its dissemination
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (33)
  • 35. Top 5 Mistakes That Lawyers Make With The Advertising Rules (CONT.)
    • Other attorneys do not make even a cursory effort to read and comprehend the Rules before submitting advertisements
    • Publication deadlines can cause mistakes when submitting ads, especially in the case of most telephone directory advertisements
    • The lack of understanding by lawyers that violation(s) of the Rules may subject an attorney to the grievance process and result in sanctions by the State Bar of Texas
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (34)
  • 36. Top 5 Advertising Rule Revisions
    • The advertising lawyer or law firm must be competent in the advertised field of law and cannot say they are specialized or certified unless they or their entire firm have been certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
    • Must provide information dealing with the nature of the case, further details into the type of amounts stated in the ad. A disclaimer does not cure the violation.  See Rule 7.02(a)(2), Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct (TDRPC)
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (35)
  • 37. Top 5 Advertising Rule Revisions (CONT.)
    • Cumulative results amounts CANNOT be presented in ads without each case fulfilling the required items detailed in Rule 7.02(a)(2), TDRPC, on the same page of the advertisement as the stated result (this includes websites).  See Interpretive Comment 26
    • All law firms websites MUST be submitted to the Advertising Review Committee for review, unless the material presented on the website are only items listed in or is disseminated in a manner described in Rule 7.07(e), which would  exempt it from the submission requirements
    • All disclaimers MUST be presented in the SAME MANNER with EQUAL PROMINENCE to the item being disclaimed.
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (36)
  • 38. ARC Contact Info
    • If you have any questions:
      • Telephone: 1-800-566-4616
      • -or-
      • E-mail Gene Majors: [email_address]
      • Advertising Review Committee
      • State Bar of Texas
      • P.O. Box 12487
      • Austin, TX 78711-2487
    The Bennett Law Firm, P.C. Bob Bennett (37)
  • 39. Bob’s Preferred Address Begins With http:, Not 515 Louisiana Ave. [email_address] 832.566.1490 http://www.avvo.com Search: Attorney Robert S. Bennett http://www.bennettlawfirm.com http://www.bennettlawfirmmed.com Contact me now!