Category Archives: Marketing

Appliance check-up? Done. Automobile check-up? Done. Legal check-up? Wait, what?

bike tune upLimited Scope Practitioners are creative, problem-solvers who look for ways to divide efforts and help people appropriately participate in addressing their personal civil legal matters. That is the “reactive” and responsive approach, triggered by demand and inquiry. It generally stays within the traditional boundaries of “barratry” and other anti-solicitation laws and rules across the U.S. and in other countries.

While advertising rules have changed over the years, and the American consumer has become less disdainful of lawyers who tastefully advertise, there still seems to be a reluctance on the part of many lawyers to undertake preventive maintenance for past, present and prospective clients. Some use anti-solicitation rules as a defense; others cite “traditional lawyer roles.” I think it is more often a discomfort with advertising legal services other than as passive, responsive, “supply-side” approach such as hanging out one’s shingle and sitting in the office, waiting for the clients to walk in.

There are a lot of shingles out there. There are also a lot of prospective clients who may not even know they need a lawyer. Why not recommend a legal check-up? It is acceptable under all rules of professional responsibility to contact present and former clients to advise them of changes in the law that you think are relevant to them. Start with that list. Send them a “legal check-up” checklist and enclose your LSR fee sheet.

For the rest of the world, try some of these:

  • Post a generic or sample checklist–or, even be tter, a self-driven check-up tuneupsystem–on your website or social media page that stays within your jurisdiction’s advertising rules.
  • Write short descriptions of real situations where a preventive review truly did prevent a larger legal problem (like that maintenance check can catch an engine problem before the car breaks down).
  • Provide examples of how your LSR services can save money with the partnership approach and collaborative solutions available in certain circumstances.

Getting people to do preventive maintenance can be challenging, no matter what type of maintenance it is. Take a page out of the heating & air conditioning, bicycle, piano, automobile, and appliance repair marketing books by developing a reminder to people that a legal check-up is important and, importantly, affordable.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Marketing

Keep it Simple

 

 


IMAG0025

 

You have no doubt seen signs like the one above, either inside a pet supply store or at a shopping center.  The message is simple, yet effective.  Though veterinarians do not have to adhere (to my knowledge) to advertising restrictions such as those imposed on lawyers in most states, there is no state in the U.S. that would disallow a similar announcement that “low cost legal assistance” or a “flat fee lawyer” will be at a particular place at a specific time.

You do not have to use terms like “unbundled” or “limited scope services” to meet communication rules.  Keep it simple and not misleading and you will be both effective and ethical.

The ABA Model Rules require that communications relating to a lawyer’s services:

  • are not false or misleading (by statements made or omitted) (Rule 7.1)
  • include the lawyer’s name (Rule 7.2)
  • are not communicated through inappropriate solicitation efforts (Rule 7.3)

You may recall my post last year about lawyers who set up temporary space in a Florida shopping mall to be near their target clients.  So far this year, there appear to be more shoppers out.  Even if you need to obtain an  advertising review (such as in Texas), you should still have time to get the word out for the after-Christmas action.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ethics, Marketing

Lawyers as Entrepreneurs

It isn’t as antithetical as one might think:  lawyers are generally very creative and many are employed in ways where they frequently provide practical guidance to entrepreneurs and other business people.  My previous post was about recent research indicating that some of the obstacles to an uptake in LSR services are self-imposed.  That “bad” side of conservatism for which the legal profession is too easily lampooned.  (Remember the jokes about how lawyers took so long to embrace technology?)

In that context, it is quite refreshing to see experienced, successful private law firms branching out into creative, entrepreneurial lines of legal services intended to meet the needs of the HUGE under-served pool of prospective clients out there.  One example of that is Negotiated Divorce.  Dig into their website and you will see an approach that blends online access, self-help features and related services for those who need more.

Lawyers are quintessential problem- solvers. You’d think more of them would take on the challenge of solving our legal service delivery problems the way Negotiated Divorce has begun to do.

Leave a comment

Filed under Marketing

LSR is happening, with or without you!

Thanks to Richard Zorza for spotting this gem.  Late last week, Robert Minto, Jr., CEO and Executive Chair of ALPS Corporation, a nationally-respected attorneys malpractice insurance carrier, posted a detailed commentary entitled, “The Unbundling of Legal Services; Will Lawyers do it or Leave it to Consumers?

There are a lot of take-aways from Minto’s observations. I urge you to read it thoroughly. When you do, you will likely see the point that struck Minto while he attended the 2013 Western States Bar Conference:  that Limited Scope Representation (what he calls “unbundling”) is here, it is happening, it is moving ahead with or without us.

Still hesitant to embrace it? Think long and hard about your real reasons. Done correctly, it is less risky that open-ended, full-scope representation, exposes you to less financial loss, and actually self-perpetuates as your clients return over and over to “buy more stuff” once they are sold on the concept.

There is a lot more in the book, including detailed ethics discussion, so if you have not downloaded your copy (or requested the PDF by email), then do it today. Limited Scope Representation: it’s happening, with or without you. Make sure you are not left out!

Leave a comment

Filed under Marketing

Immitation: the Sincerest Form of Flattery

If you have not read the book, Start and Grow Your Limited Scope Practice, (purchase details at right), you have missed out on the practical guidance and unique tips for getting your limited scope representation practice up and running.

You can get a sense of one part of the book, however, from today’s Wall Street Journal. In the Small Business Report section, Barbara Haislip has an article, “If You Want to Beat ‘Em, Learn From ‘Em First: Your future competitors have a lot to teach you.” In the article, Ms. Haislip observes:

Researching your rivals is a vital step for entrepreneurs entering a market…Yet too many small companies don’t do that homework.

Though her article focuses on steps a start-up should follow before entering a competitive marketplace, the concepts are equally valid–as I note in my book in more depth–for a new way of doing business in an established market. LSR practitioners can learn a LOT from other entrepreneurs in non-legal businesses in their target area and apply those lessons to improve the success of their LSR practice.

What are you waiting for? Other lawyers are starting to see the vast, untapped market of willing consumers who can pay some money for limited scope services and who are overlooked or even rejected by lawyers unable to restructure their office practice to take advantage of the opportunity these eager consumers present. Every day you wait is another day someone else has to get ahead of you. Flatter those other businesses by imitating what works for them and don’t be shy about letting them know how they helped you. You may find a rich source of referrals and peers with whom to network in the process.

So get your copy of my book today and learn how you can Start and Grow Your Limited Scope Practice. It may be the most profitable $10 you have ever invested!

Leave a comment

Filed under Marketing, Training

Takin’ It To The Streets

Drive around any shopping area in a mid-sized suburb and you are likely to notice businesses that once shunned the strip or othe malls but have “gone retail.” Title companies, realtors, insurance agents and even financial advisors have all “gone retail” to one extent or another.

Whether to nab cheap space or to be near their customers, these businesses that do not traditionally rely on foot traffic or impulse purchases are now nestled between book stores, hair salons and coffee shops. Whatever the reason, they are now in the mix.

Now juxtapose this:  a news story by Kim Miller in the Palm Beach Post in December 2011 attracted international attention for the “Law Booth” at a Boynton Beach, Florida, mall founded by Melva Rozier, Richard Carey and Paul Burkhart. I applauded their creativity and innovative blend of “retail” and “professional services.” In a more recent story, Alice Hines at the Huffington Post provides a review after four months of operation. Business has been so good, the group is thinking about expanding. This quote caught my attention (emphasis mine):

“We thought that bankruptcy and foreclosure would be the main practice areas,” Rozier said. “But it’s much more of a cross-pollination, people who qualify for legal aid and people who can afford the regular market.”

Rozier, Carey and Burkhart have a website, but it is no “traditional” website. There are ways to pay online and submit documents electronically for review. After your payment clears, one of the lawyers will contact you.

So what do these two concepts–unconventional strip mall tenants and VERY novel lawyers-in-a-booth–have to do with each other? Simple: they show you the basic elements for “retail lawyering.” Take your practice to where the clients are, rather than making them find you.

I devoted a whole chapter in my book to how to develop this type of innovative business strategy in your own area. If you have not read it, order your copy today using the instructions on the right. Better yet, go to Amazon and download your copy right now to get started immediately.

You never know who in your area has already picked up my book and begun to strategize on how to take on the very market sector you have in mind!

Leave a comment

Filed under Marketing

LSR Is About Innovation!

In an opinion piece that appeared September 7, 2012, on InsideCounsel.com, Juan Ramirez advocates adapting innovative technologies such as the Internet, video conferencing and even virtual reality programs such as “Second Life” to the needs of the ADR system.  “[I]t would be useful to view technology not as a mechanism for replacing lawyers, mediators and arbitrators,” he writes, “but as a way to adjust their roles.”

That captures one of the key points discussed in my book, Start and Grow Your Limited Scope Practice: How to Make Money Serving the “Do It Yourself” Client (UK, DE, FR):  there are novel ways to deliver legal services that are much in demand at prices that more people can afford.  We, as lawyers, need only think innovatively and creatively.

The book includes a number of ideas you will not find anywhere else, including those books that cost several times more than this one.  Specifically, one chapter, “A 7-Step Plan for Success,” walks the reader through the process of identifying the need and other aspects of the local market, then tailoring the marketing and delivery of services to them.

There are no limits to the creative ways that motivated lawyers can find to serve clients who need their services.  Traditions have their value, but when they hold us back and block our innovative thought processes, they get in the way.  While Ramirez’s idea of using virtual people to resolve disputes seems far-fetched, I have to ask, “why not?”  Some solutions we have not imagined will one day be common place in the legal services profession.  Will any of them be your idea?

LSR is one type of law practice that is exploding.  Will you be left behind or will you get into the marketplace at the forefront?

Leave a comment

Filed under Marketing

Should you move to the country?

An article in the June 22 Wall Street Journal highlighted the “opportunity-meets-preparedness” situation where unemployed urban lawyers are finding that there are many small towns without enough lawyers.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Amid all the blustering about having “too many lawyers” there are actually communities that want more.

It is similar to the medical services imbalance, where there are too many general practitioners in some urban areas but small towns often have few or none.  Life in a smaller town can be fantastic for those who enjoy less traffic and pollution and more familiar faces when they shop, drive and go out to eat.  For those who crave the faster pace and pulse of a larger area, however, the lower cost of living typically is not enough to offset the lack of entertainment options.  Unlike the medical profession, there are few student loan relief programs that encourage lawyers to live in less-populated areas beyond those that generally apply to public and nonprofit legal services work.

But who says you have to be just one or the other, urban or rural?  There is a big, important difference between the medical and legal professions:  other than a few meetings and court appearances, lawyers do not have to examine their clients or see them physically to deliver high-quality services.  Rather than pack up and move right away, try temporary or part-time  operations to get a feel for the legal services that your targeted smaller communities are looking for.

Do you plan to offer simple estate planning services on a limited scope basis or help people with orders in uncontested family law matters?  Use some of the suggestions* in Start and Grow Your Limited Scope Practice:  How to Make Money Serving the “Do It Yourself” Client to generate interest and a list of prospective clients in the area.  Then, much like the original Methodist preachers of the 1800s and many rural judges today, circuit ride to stop in each community often enough to address that targeted need, get some face time with clients and prospective clients, hold a mass execution (of documents, not people) session, or just do a community service information session.   After that, you can keep the client reasonably informed via mail, fax, email, phone, video chat or other appropriate means.

If the business picks up, consider renting space for a more permanent presence and increasing your trips to that “branch office” as the work requires.  If it doesn’t, you have not wasted money that you need to allocate to marketing and other locations.

* Because some of those suggestions are not found anywhere else, they are not posted here.  Get your copy of the eBook today and gain that advantage over others who have not yet done so.  See ordering info at the right for PDF versions and links to Amazon for the Kindle version.

1 Comment

Filed under Cost cutting, Marketing

Could you use Twuffer?

So you bought the book, downloaded it directly to your ebook reader, and launched your limited scope representation (unbundled) practice.  Promotion is a challenge for any law firm, but it is crucial for LSR practices because (a) many prospective clients do not know the option even exists and (b) you have a new service that needs to get attention.

If you created a Twitter account, you have likely already concluded “this takes too much time and effort!”  While celebreties and media pros make tweeting part of their everyday work and lives (and or pay someone on their staff to make sure that their followers are consistently fed), that is probably not in your immediate business plan.  So how can you effectively use Twitter without feeling you are wasting valuable (and billable) time?

Enter the Twitter buffer: Twuffer!  With a tool like Twuffer, you can load up dozens of tweets and set up a schedule for them to go out.  You get to focus your social media promotional time into a concentrated couple of hours each month, then turn your attention to other things that every small and solo practioner must attend to.

Here are a few tips:

1.  Set up your Twitter account(s) first.  You will need to have that in place before Twuffer can work for you.

2.  Use a spreadsheet or something similar to organize your tweets.  It helps to have a long series of tweets displayed visually so you can see the pattern and make sure you get the sequence you intend.

3.  Track the tweets you have posted as well as those you have loaded up for future posts, then update the spreadsheet to keep it current.  It is amazing how easily we forget which tweets we did and did not post last week or month!

4.  Consider a theme.  One month you may want to promote one type of service, for example; the next month, you can tweet about other things such as updates in the law.

5.  Watch the “fail” tab.  If a tweet does not successfully post, Twuffer records the event in its “fail tab” along with the reason.  The best reason for a “fail?”  It was an unintended double-tweet repeat.  Twuffer catches those in case you did not intend to come across as some tweeting robot on autopilot. 

With a Twitter buffer like Twuffer, you can appear to be “in” with social media without sacrificing important productivity hours during the week.  (And your followers will be amazed at your apparent lack of sleep!)

2 Comments

Filed under Marketing

Do it on Law Day

Image

On May 1, 1958, President Eisenhower proclaimed the first “Law Day” in the United States to commemorate the nation’s commitment to the rule of law as espoused by our founding fathers.  Every president since then has issued a similar proclamation and Congress officially established Law Day in 1961 (36 U.S.C. 113).

This year, the American Bar Association’s theme for Law Day 2012 is “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom.”  There are far too many who do not have meaningful access to the courts–and therefore, to justice and true freedom–because they cannot afford a high legal retainer or high, unpredictable legal fees.  At the same time, there are thousands of lawyers who struggle to make ends meet while establishing or maintaining their traditional law practices.

If you are one of those lawyers, take a moment to reflect on the meaning of Law Day and the 2012 theme, then resolve to help yourself while helping others by offering limited scope representation as a service.  What better day to resolve to launch–or better, to launch–a limited scope practice or menu of services?

The unrepresented prospective clients out there need you.  Your legal system needs you.   Be part of the transformation from “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom” into “Access to Courts and Access to Justice means Preserving Our Freedom.”

Limited Scope Representation:  it is not just about making more money; it is about meaningful service to those who can afford to pay something for your valuable, but limited assistance.

So go ahead: launch your LSR practice.  Launch it on May 1, 2012.  Whether you do it for Law Day 2012 or some other reason, at least do it!

Leave a comment

Filed under Marketing