On The Continuing Thunderous Suckitude of Legal Marketing

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12 Responses

  1. David says:

    On a Keynesian analysis, you could increase the value of the business "generated or saved" simply by investing heavily in even more directory listings!

  2. Turk says:

    “you might want to look for a smaller firm, or a solo, that could do such a case economically”

    I usually tell them:

    “you might want to look for a larger firm that could do such a case economically”

  3. Mike says:

    Do you get enough cases from cold calls that it's even worth taking them? One boss wouldn't even take cold calls. You didn't get to talk to him unless a lawyer he trusted gave you his #, or unless you paid him for an hour of his time. No website, either.

  4. PLW says:

    You should list a wrong number in the directory. One digit would suffice, for plausible deniability.

  5. shg says:

    My current estimate is one interesting call for every 1000 cold calls. But I can't tell you how much I enjoy fielding inquiries from people who "just have one question." I could do it all day long.

  6. Max Kennerly says:

    We have intake paralegals to weed out cases where there's plainly nothing there. It still ends up as a time suck in reviewing intakes, but not nearly as much.

    The only directory I've seen produce qualified leads is HG.org. Why? Beats me. Not a lot, but some. Comparatively cheap, too.

    Blogging about stuff that matters to the clients you want to represent can indeed generate work.

  7. eddie says:

    We recently had a sales tax problem with a non-profit group we volunteer for. We cold-called a tax attorney whose website signaled competence.

    We had absolutely no idea what to do regarding the tax problem, and we were perfectly willing to pay for some in-person consultation just to get our bearings. The attorney we talked to on the phone (the attorney, not his assistant!) spent about ten minutes with us on the phone, determined that our problem was nothing to worry about, assured us that getting resolution in cases like ours was easy and routine, and told us what we would need to do in order to get it worked out ourselves. Gratis.

    While he's correct that it was pretty easy to get resolved following his recommendations, I know that we would not have been able to figure out what to do without spending those ten minutes on the phone with him (or someone else with the same specialized knowledge). Google was unhelpful, as were the government sales tax websites we visited and government employees we spoke with. So that ten minute phone call was extremely valuable to us. At the same time, the issue was simple enough (once you know what to do) that anything more than those ten minutes would have been a waste of his time – he practically said as much on the phone.

    That said, if anyone I know ever needs legal tax advice for something much more serious and time-consuming, I know who I'm going to recommend.

  8. Rich Rostrom says:

    If I was a hack with a mail-order law degree from Pakistan, practicing out of the back of a massage parlor, could I get a listing in those directories if I paid the fee?

    If so, those directories serve no function at all.

    Do the listings include any information beyond name, firm name, and contact info (address, ph#, etc)? Is that information verified by the publisher?

    If not, those directories serve no function at all.

    Lawyers like yourself need to ask, when getting a referral or contact from an "old-school" lawyer, "Was this contact conditional upon my being listed in some law directory?" You might learn from this which directories are worth being listed in. You could also ask the contactor why they relied on the directory listing for validation, when it is available to anyone who pays the requisite fee.

  9. Ken says:

    Oh, hey! Someone just contacted me by email through Martindale-Hubbell to ask for free advice about a lottery ticket! I take it all back.

  10. AH says:


    What type of law do you practice? Internet marketing?SEO is not important for biglaw type representation involving sophisticated corporate clients but is crucial for small-law practice involving indivuiduals as clients: By this I mean criminal, dui, divorce, personal injury, bankruptcy and the like.

    The general counsel of a F500 isn't going to hire you for an antitrust or patent case because you came up on Google page 1 as an "aggressive attorney". But some guy going through a divorce will call you.

    The attorney will then screen the calls to separate good cases from bullshit. That is what happenend to you with the tax attorney. The tax attorney's practice probably consists of spending a few minutes haggling with the IRS to reduce the lien and then closing the case. When you called him with a complex legal question that entails research (and risk to the tax attorney if he gives bad advice) he classifed you as "bullshit" (the same way you classified most of your internet client calls) and got rid of you quickly.

  11. Ken says:

    AH, that's a good point — the listings may be of some marginally greater utility for a higher volume, lower fee practice. We're a bit on the boutique end of things (doing criminal defense, internal investigations, and litigation, generally).

    But that doesn't stop the Martindales and Thomson-Reuters of the world from marketing themselves relentlessly to us. And, though your general counsel isn't going to hire us based on our Google hit, as I said in the post, if he's a certain age he's still going to look us up in Martindale-Hubbell and be put off if we're not there.

  12. Ann Onymous says:

    There is always the approach I take. Don't advertise and have an unlisted phone number. It cuts down on the "crank" calls, anyway, and for a one-man shop that is probably a good thing.