Saturday, July 10, 2010

Florida Bar Internet Advertising Rules Spark Criticism

Florida lawyers face increased regulation on website advertising, as previously reported. The new rules, originally scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2010, were recently delayed by action of The Florida Supreme Court.

At the heart of the matter is a new requirement that certain law firm information, such as testimonials and references to past results, can only be accessible "on request" on a law firm's web site. A law firm wishing to display this data must require a site visitor to take an affirmative action, such as clicking on a button after reading a disclaimer, before accessing a web page with testimonials or certain other performance data. The web page containing this data must be hidden from the search engines, meaning that the page is only accessible through the disclaimer page.

Large Florida law firms are becoming more vocal in their opposition to this law firm advertising rule, according to an article by Julie Kay titled "Florida Law Firms Protest Bar's Online Ad Rules," published in the July 12, 2010 issue of the Daily Business Review.

Read The Florida Bar News article here titled "Court Delays Enforcement of Atorney Website Rules" also for more information.

Out of state attorneys should pay attention as well, since The Florida Bar's attorney advertising rules apply broadly to "lawyers admitted to practice law in Florida who solicit or advertise for legal employment in Florida or who target solicitations or advertisements for legal employment at Florida residents." (Rule 4-7.1(b))

This Rainmaking Lady respects discussion on Florida web site rules, while noting that legal marketing opportunities on the Internet have grown geometrically via Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube and other social media sites in the years that this evaluation has been in progress. The effort to regulate online communications may only become more complicated.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Bloomberg Enters Legal Research Market

Westlaw and LexisNexis are now targets of Bloomberg Law, the formidable financial data publisher that hopes to extend its reach to law firm desktops across the country. An article in today's Wall Street Journal titled "Bloomberg Hangs New Shingle" tells the story.

Over the past five years, Bloomberg has reportedly hired 250 full-time attorneys to analyze court and other legal documents for online publication in their new product.

There are two key points that this Rainmaking Lady finds interesting from a business development perspective:

1. Bloomberg Law goes beyond legal documents to integrate complementary data sources like corporate filings, stock charts, links to information about judges and corporate counsel, as well as information that can point to potential conflicts. In this regard, the bigger picture helps the law firm rainmaker improve the effectiveness of a business development campaign.

2. Flat fees of $495 per month per attorney for the Bloomberg product challenge the more complex usage-based pricing models of competitors. Since alternative billing arrangements are a big topic in legal circles these days, it is useful to see how a more straightforward price schedule for legal research can be effective in gaining market share within law firms.

Competition is a difficult but ultimately critical market-driven factor that will result in better products at better prices. The holistic approach of Bloomberg Law offers additional tools for successful legal marketing.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Big Legal Marketing Ideas on a Small Marketing Budget

We've been talking to a lot of attorneys lately who don't have much money for marketing. From AmLaw 100 firms to solo and mid-sized practitioners, marketing dollars are tight.

Let's look at the bright side, though. There are lots of low cost legal marketing campaigns available, especially when it comes to digital marketing. Here are 5 marketing tips for recession-proof marketing.

1. Set up a Google AdWords account. This "pay per click" offering means there is no cost to you unless someone clicks on your ad and visits your website. Plus you can set a daily budget to control expenses.

2. Work your referral network more aggressively. Prioritize your referral sources, and create a 1-page outline that lists your sources with a communication schedule. For example, meet with your priority "A" referral sources every 30-45 days, your "B" resources every 60-90 days, etc.

3. Schedule your own speaking event. Partner with 1-2 complementary service providers (like another attorney and an accountant) and put together an event you can all promote to your clients/prospects. Arrange to hold this in the firm with the most suitable office space, and bring in some food. You will attract attention, get new leads, and gain some positive energy.

4. Increase your visibility on social media. I was able to land a new engagement last week from an inactive client I "LinkedIn" with, and you may be able to do the same. Stay connected!

5. Write an article. If business is slow, that means you should have some extra time to pen an educational article targeting your ideal clients. Chances are good that they are grappling with the economy as well, so give them some suggestions on how to take the right legal steps to protect or enhance their business or personal situation.

See, increasing your legal marketing profile can be easy and fun! I'm writing the 2nd edition of my legal marketing book Courting Your Clients, and have a lot of ideas you may find helpful. Drop me an email and I'll share some more.