Anyone who knows him will tell you that Brian Tannebaum is an acquired taste, like red wine or strong cheese or being hit with leather implements by expensive strangers in the basements of brownstones. Or so I've heard.

One of the things that makes Brian an acquired taste is that he enjoys telling people what he thinks, as opposed to telling them things he thinks they'd like to hear or things that might make people like him, or at least not back away from him nervously. He's particularly frank about legal marketing, which tends to raise some hackles. Ever since Above the Law chose him instead of me to write a column, which is fine because I'm very busy with important things and it would have sucked anyway, Brian's been doing his best to bring religiosity to the fuzzy-wuzzies. He's been explaining to the law students and young lawyers that it's all fine and good that someone showed up at your firm because you popped up third in a Google search for LAWER STABBING INOCENT TAMPA, but you've got to be competent and serve clients to be anything but a well-SEOed hack.

This message is not always universally appreciated.

The other day Brian wrote what is, for him, a rather restrained piece exploring the vapidity of modern legal marketing blather. This annoyed an actual marketeer, Marc Romano of Ignyte, Inc., who wrote Brian a perfectly hilarious angry-entitled-marketeer letter. Brian has posted it here. Go read it.

It would be difficult to say what part is my favorite. It's like choosing a favorite child. But if forced, I'd probably choose this part . . .

I have limited time here. I have seven law firms that we're rebranding and several holiday parties to attend in the evening by past clients who simply want to thank us for putting them on a positive path. They are all thriving and focused on the future of their firms as opposed to Brian who is desperately defending the past.

. . . perhaps because it reminds me so much of the infamous John Fitzgerald Page, online dater extraordinaire:

I am a trainer on the side, in fact, I am heading to the gym in 26 minutes!

Why is Marc Romano so angry? I'm not sure. But I think it might be because his profession — modern legal marketing — depends upon a certain suspension of disbelief. It requires us not to laugh and point at the idea that the way to build a worthwhile successful practice is to embed key words and tweet on a consultant-approved schedule, as opposed to performing responsive, competent, dedicated work for clients we're capable of serving.

Brian laughs and points.

Secure people — people who don't have anything to be embarrassed about — generally don't get really upset when someone laughs and points and them. Just sayin'.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says

    +1 props for Firefly reference.

    My personal experience is that the more someone tries to impress you with their success, especially in the form of "Everyone loves me, I'm so rich, you're just a loser", I tend to be distrustful. There's a difference between "I'm qualified to discuss this matter because I've been a professional for X years." and "Neener neener, my car is shinier than yours, booga booga!"

  2. mojo says


    Hmmm… is the mis-spelling required, I wonder? To target the right demographic, I mean: functionally illiterate stabby-type people.

  3. Scott Jacobs says

    it's all fine and good that someone showed up at your firm because you popped up third in a Google search for LAWER STABBING INOCENT TAMPA

    Always go for #5. That firm is HUNGRY for your business…

  4. Deadly Laigrek says

    How many people are at these "holiday parties" of his? Come on, Marc, we need some kind of details. Was there booze? Nudity? How much party was at your party?

  5. Joe Pullen says

    I’m in sales (I know boo hiss). Actually sales management (I know even worse). And this particular Marketeer is definitely junior league because he’s ignored some very important yet basic rules for successful marketing namely:

    Rule #1 – don’t insult highly visible and respected influencers in your key markets

    Rule #2 – don’t waste time trying to sell/convince people you can never sell/convince – see also rule #1

  6. says

    This post sucks. And you suck too.


  7. @SouthJerseyBlu says

    Well, Brian's unique debating style and use of incontrovertible facts have convinced me. I'm done.

  8. Al says

    Oh, fine. Go ahead and moderate my spammy snark. See if I care. I don't because I'm busy with important things.

  9. says

    I had to pull it out of the spam filter. The spam filter has 12900 comments in it. These days, even though we closed down comments on posts older than 60 days, the spam filter grows about 20-50 per hour.

  10. Kevin says

    Personally, my favorite part of the email is where he actually cites the number of "likes" some post received, as if it were evidence of…. something. It reminds me of a newbie Redditor who hasn't figured out yet that his imaginary internet points aren't actually redeemable for anything in the real world.

    I'm not a lawyer, but these kinds of marketeers are absolutely not a phenomenon unique to the legal profession. What always strikes me is that the kind of people who try to go into business as "new media consultants", or whatever they call themselves this week, always seem to be total n00bs who don't even actually understand the technology (and certainly not the associated social psychology) of the platforms that they're trying to sell as the holy grail for all that ails you.

  11. JWH says

    I guess it all depends on what kind of law your practice and what kind of law firm you want to run.

    In my case, I work hard at my current job (tiny little peon at a big law firm) because I have nightmares in which I advertise on daytime TV.

    And now Twitter will entire my nightmares as well.

  12. JWH says

    In all seriousness, the marketing guy was kind of a dick. Seems to me he missed a great opportunity to generate positive publicity for his firm and for his clients. What if, instead of dissing Brian's piece and bragging about how important he was, Marketing Guy had instead sent a respectful letter showing that his marketing practices work … and offered, say, sixty days of free marketing consulting to Brian or one of his readers to prove that his marketing secrets work?

  13. Deadly Laigrek says

    @JWH – Brian probably would have laughed him off the map. He certainly wouldn't have come across as such a tool.

  14. SPQR says

    If I really cracked a rib laughing, like it feels, I'm suing you, Ken, using the first PI ambulance chaser that pops up from my Google search using the terms "Rib Injury Laugh Torte Lawyer".

    Oh, that's so hilarious. Frank Azar came up second on the link for that search. Last time I saw fat Frank the ambulance chaser, he was guzzling booze in a local strip club in downtown Denver …

  15. Basil Forthrightly says

    And of course, if idiot lawyer does in fact win the Internets with the help of Mr. Market Whizz (who mostly supplies the whizz), what does he win? A client who thinks that Google's going to find him a great lawyer in a hurry, not a client with realistic expectations or money. For criminal lawyers, probably a client who's going to jail and whose mother will be paying the lawyer in installments until the client gets out.

  16. says

    @Ken: I would enjoy this blog exponentially more if you would occasionally work the term "gong show" into your posts.

  17. says

    @mojo 12:22pm:

    "Functionally illiterate stabby-type people" sounds like a pretty accurate summation of the client pool for public defenders and attorneys doing pro bono criminal defense for the indigent. Ken, feel free to elaborate or correct me if you think I'm off base.

    I think I talked to an incipient indigent defendant of similar, but less stabby, caliber on the LA Metro Blue Line the other day. It seems that she's fixing to be arrested on a bench warrant for failure to appear on a fare evasion summons, and that the City and County of Los Angeles are fixing to piss a few thousand dollars down a rat hole by arresting, booking, trying and possibly incarcerating a borderline-morbidly obese diabetic lady over $1.50. After the fare inspectors moved to the other end of her car, this lady showed me her summons, which indicated that she had been cited for fare evasion, contrary to her repeated assertion that the inspectors had been dogging on her for no good reason. Then, in a fit of pique driven by an inchoate sense of equity, she tore it up on the argument that "Sheriffs think they the motherfucking police!"

    I could have explained the difference between nonsworn transit deputies like the ones on our train, who are not the motherfucking police but are deputized specifically for fare enforcement and were therefore in the right to cite her, and sworn deputies, the ones with service weapons and tan shirts, who are the motherfucking police, or are close enough since they, like the LAPD, are motherfucking peace officers answerable to the Motherfucking Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training; but I held my peace, as it were, because there was obviously no percentage in arguing these details with someone who was angry and ignorant.

    If you're wondering where the hell California's money is going, you're looking in the right place.

  18. says

    For Road-to-Popehat SEO purposes, I should add: Hold my hole piece.

    Believe me, the road to Aliens in the Family goes through places much worse than that.

  19. says

    I beg you Popehat commentariat not to tell said marketeer that yesterday I received 10 times as many hits to my blog as I did on any day this week. Popey wopey – you are my SEO God. I just have to ask – what are you wearing, right now?

  20. Scott Jacobs says

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand now I feel uncomfortable…

    Pardon me while I google "Creepy Lawyer Internet Sexual Harassment".

    Brian, you can expect a call at start of business Monday.

  21. says

    Ah, so the "M" in "MTA" stands for "Motherfucking". Now I know. And knowing is half the battle!

    (The other half is violence.)

  22. AlphaCentauri says

    Does Google Adwords allow you to exclude certain terms? Because it's bad enough to come up at the top of the search for "ambulance chasing lawyer" without paying for the privilege.

  23. Anglave says

    Wow, I guess if I need to hire someone to generate meaningless business-sounding word salad, I know where to turn!

    We provide five essential values:
    1. Market positioning
    2. We direct your employees tweet about your "brand"
    3. ???
    4. Technobabble
    5. Client retention gimmicks!

  24. Andrew says

    @Scott So, could someone please translate this statement:

    "Did we help our customer grow in a quantum way?"

    Do they mean that they help their customer grow according to the principles of quantum physics? Or do they help their customers grow in a quantum meruit way so that the customer owes the marketer money? Hmm.

  25. Analee says

    I'm kinda hoping this post somehow gets to Marc Romano and we get all sorts of loveably goofy moderated comments about how he eats paste and likes to snort taints.

  26. says

    Jacobs, your jealously over Romano's LinkedIn profile is obvious. It's idiots like you that don't understand "Connecting people inside the company with brand direction to maintain competitive strength and drive growth by
    creating an innovative culture, aligning people, processes and behavior with strategy," that are the problem.

  27. says

    If you think that peppering a resume with utterly tedious cliches culled from the God Motherhood and Apple Pie school of BS assembly is cool, and likely to make us mere mortals jealous, I wish you luck in your future endeavors.

  28. says

    Jacobs, stop whining. It's not like I said you were ignorant of "Web 2.0 strategy that facilitates participatory information sharing, knowledge exchange and collaboration."


  29. Scott Jacobs says

    You just added IEED to the list.

    I hope you have a good lawyer who is well versed in online social marketing tactics.

  30. AlphaCentauri says

    But what if I wanted to capitalize on integral components of a people-come-first environment of continuous quality benchmarking to leverage employee diversity with a value-added package of core competencies? When I look at Mr. Romano's LinkedIn profile, I just don't know if he's able to help me with that.