Monday, December 7, 2009

New York City #1 for marijuana arrests at 39,700 last year alone

If you are a criminal defense lawyer in New York City, this should hit home - especially since 65% of people now search online first when looking for a lawyer...

Police busted nearly 400,000 people for carrying small amounts of pot in the last decade, making New York City the world leader in marijuana arrests, civil rights advocates said Tuesday while unveiling a study criticizing the war on drugs.

Police officials -- who have long argued that the low level drug arrests help drive down more serious crime -- countered by saying the report's data was flawed and its findings misleading.

The study by Queens College sociologist Harry G. Levine, titled "Marijuana Arrest Crusade," accused police of purposely singling out minorities during the 10-year crackdown. It said that data provided by stat Division of Criminal Justice Services showed that between 1997 and 2007, 52 percent of the suspects were black, 31 percent Hispanic and only 15 percent white.

The findings are further proof that "racial profiling is a fact of life on the streets of New York," Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, told a news conference at the group's Manhattan headquarters.

Laws were revised in the late 1970s to largely decriminalize carrying small, concealed stashes of marijuana, Levine said. But he claimed police routinely "manufacture" arrests for possession in public view -- still a misdemeanor -- by stopping young black men on the street and goading them into emptying their pockets.

According to the study, arrests for marijuana possession began skyrocketing in the late 1990s during the Giuliani administration -- a trend that continued under Mayor Michael Bloomberg at an estimated cost of between $50 and $90 million a year. There were 39,700 arrests last year alone, according to the study.

The 2007 total makes the city "the marijuana arrest capital of the world," Lieberman said. The study says New York deserves that title because it devotes far more resources to arresting and jailing marijuana offenders than other large cities in Europe and elsewhere. It also cites a previous analysis of FBI data showing that five of the top 10 counties with highest per-capita arrest rate were the five boroughs.

Police disputed the study's finding that most of the misdemeanor arrests involved suspects carrying only a few grams of marijuana inside "blunts" or small plastic bags. Typically, they said, the suspects were either smoking pot in public or carrying more weight: Between about one and eight ounces.

NYPD spokesman Paul Browne called Levine an "advocate for marijuana legalization," and accused the NYCLU of using the sociologist "to mislead the public with absurdly inflated numbers and false claims about bias.""If the NYCLU is for legalization, it should just say so without resorting to smears," Browne said.

Visit our website if you want to learn how to capture criminal defense lawyer searches online


Friday, November 20, 2009

Law firms & Lawyers Get Video YouTube Style Site

Interesting new website here. It currently has a page rank of "0" so time will tell if they can create the visibility needed to produce an acceptable ROI of their customers. At $900/mo, this is no small price to pay for the service...

When it comes to searching for lawyers, Alabama trial attorney Lew Garrison believes people need more information than what they get from directories that simply list names of lawyers.
Potential clients need to learn more about the personal side of the lawyer, as they would when having a conversation, Garrison said. To help make those introductions, Garrison launched a Web site called that serves as a video directory and lawyer-search resource.

The Web site went live on Sept. 1 after about four months of development.

"Like anyone, we're just trying to figure out how to get more business and how to get more cases through the door by marketing more effectively," said Garrison, who is partner of the 13-lawyer Birmingham, Ala.-based firm of Heninger Garrison Davis. Garrison's firm handles various civil litigation including asbestos claims, medical malpractice and trucking accidents. The firm has done television advertisements but wanted the ability to provide more information about themselves to potential clients.

That's when Garrison decided to create the site with the help of a Web development and videography team, which handles all of the maintenance and production on the site.
"We wanted to create one site where lawyers could market their services," Garrison said. "It's the next best thing to being in the lawyer's office. It's giving the client a sense of what that person is really like."

The Web site features a graphically rich design with multiple features for users looking for attorneys.

The heart of the site allows people to search for lawyers by practice area and by state. The results of the searches are video snippets of attorneys talking about their practice, their experience in the law and answering general questions about specific areas of the law.

For example, as of last week, the only Connecticut lawyer with a presence on LegalTube was Carter Mario, a Milford-based personal injury lawyer. In Mario's vignette, he discusses auto accident cases with a woman who's conducting the interview in the style of a news-talk television show via satellite feed. The woman appears to be in one city while Mario is talking with the Hartford skyline as a backdrop.

Other attorneys' video segments include tours of law offices and presentations about how and why they got into the practice of law. Most of the videos are about two to three minutes long.
But there's more to the site than lawyers talking about law.

There's also an "arresting entertainment" section with lawyers telling lawyer jokes on video and also relating some strange moments they've had while representing clients. The site also posts updates to its reality series, "Law After Dark," which currently features videos from night court proceedings in small towns north of Birmingham.

Garrison said about 50 law firms have signed up to add videos to the site and salespeople are contacting lawyers in every state: "We're loading videos as fast as we can right now."
The cost for adding a video profile depends on the size of the market. Connecticut is considered to be among the largest markets because of its proximity to Boston and New York, so the cost to post a video is $900 per month.

Contracts run for six months or one year, Garrison said. The LegalTube team will shoot and produce the video snippet for an extra cost, or law firms can shoot their own videos and provide them to LegalTube, Garrison added.

Part of the deal includes exclusivity, Garrison noted. There are 18 practice areas highlighted by the site, and only four lawyers' profiles can be posted in each practice area for a particular state. So with the Connecticut personal injury lawyer search, Mario is now featured along with three out-of-state law firms. No other personal injury lawyer can post a video in that section until one of the current profiles is removed.

"You're not going to be in a directory where it's just page after page of text listings," Garrison said.

It's all an effort to present a more three-dimensional image to the public searching for legal representation, Garrison said. "This is a new way to market legal services," he said. "Everything is headed to the Internet whether we like it or not."

Visit our website to learn more about law firm internet marketing


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Will There Be Too Many Lawyers by 2013??

Very interesting article on whether the current economic downtown will lead to a surge of new lawyers fresh out of law schools in four years...

If you practice law, or know someone who does, mark May 2013 on the calendar. That’s when the legal job market could get a lot more competitive.

A record number of people are ready to opt out of what Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has called “a weak job market,” and wait it out in the halls of America's law schools.

More than 60,000 aspiring attorneys sat for the LSAT this fall, more than any year kept on record by the Law School Admission Council, or LSAC. That’s about 20% more than fall 2008. And because the American Bar Association, or ABA, gives accreditation to a few new law schools a year, there are more places for them to go.

“People do tend to turn to graduate education as a way to ride out a slowdown,” said Wendy Margolis, an LSAC representative.

Margolis says there are 5% more law school applicants this year than there were in 2008, and the average number of applications per applicant has risen as well.

“It appears they realize it’s competitive,” she says. Although not all law students end up practicing law, ABA Commission Chairman Allan Tanenbaum says there will be a backlog of people with law degrees.

And come 2013, the legal profession could look a lot different.“There’s going to be a whole new model,” he says, adding that the ABA is exploring whether to assemble a group for skilled lawyers interested in public service akin to Teach for America or AmeriCorps.“Challenging times force people to think a little bit outside the box,” he says.

Visit our website to learn more about lawyer website marketing and how law firm SEO can set you apart.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pay-Per-Click Advertising Improved with Organic Search Results

Interesting study here and worth a read for anybody who current does pay per click advertising on the search engines. The summary of this finding is that paid advertising results are improved with coupled with similar organic results...

A study from a couple of NYU Stern professors has found that organic search engine results can play a direct role in whether or not a paid listing is clicked. Basically, if this research is any indication, if your business has both a paid result and an organic result appear at the same time, you have a better chance of your paid result getting clicked than if the organic result had not appeared. Seen better CTRs when paid and organic listings are present?

Professors Anindya Ghose and Sha Yang have highlighted the following findings:

- On average, the impact of organic listings on paid advertising is 3.5 times stronger than vice-versa, possibly because of the tendency of consumers to trust organic listings more than paid ads.- The positive association between paid and organic listings increases advertisers’ profits by at least 6.15% when compared to profits in the absence of either of them.

The positive association is strongest when advertiser-specific keywords are used and weakest when brand-specific and generic keywords are used.- Click-through rates, conversion rates and total revenues are higher when both paid and organic listings are present simultaneously than when paid search ads are absent.

- The combined click-through rates are 5.1% higher when paid and organic listings are present simultaneously than when only the organic listings are present.

- The combined conversion rate increases 11.7% when paid and organic listings are present simultaneously than when organic listings alone are present.

- Paid search advertising drives up to 54% of total revenue growth.

The professors used "a unique panel dataset of consumer responses to keyword ads on Google" to conduct their research. The complete findings from the study are evidently available in a paper entitled "Analyzing the Relationship between Organic and Sponsored Search Advertising: Positive, Negative or Zero Interdependence?"

It's 52 pages long."These findings have important implications for the incentives of search engines to strategically modify the rankings of their organic search listings in order to boost their revenues from paid search advertisements," says Professor Ghose.Ghose's point is an interesting one. Nobody's making any accusations here, but would search engines tweak organic results specifically with the goal of increasing the performance of paid results, and bringing in more revenue?

The PPC auctioning process has nothing to do with the organic SERPs. Lastly, manipulating the organic SERPs in order to charge more for PPC clicks is cutting your own throat, from an SE perspective. In effect, telling advertisers: "You got a better organic position, therefore you will be charged more for your PPC clicks." Under which business model does this make sense? Exactly none. Even if a search engine did engage in such a practice, it is highly unlikely that anybody would know about it. I think the larger point is still just that it pays to optimize your site for organic listings, even if you are paying for listings. This may seem like common sense, but it is easy to dismiss the time and effort that go into an optimized site if you think you can just buy your way to clicks.

Source: Nov 17, 2009

Visit our website to learn more about Google optimization (SEO) and Google Local (Maps) Optimization

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New York Criminal Defense Attorney Cries To Jury

Welcome to the touchy-feely defense bar.

The past couple of days have shown us a decidedly softer side to the perhaps stereotypical tough-talking New York defense attorney. One of these displays happened Friday in Brooklyn where two former Bear Stearns hedge fund managers, Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin (pictured), are on trial on various fraud counts, accused of lying to their investors about the health of two funds as they were collapsing in 2007. Susan Brune, a white-collar defense attorney, is representing Tannin.

During her summation on Friday, Brune argued that the prosecution deliberately mischaracterized her client’s state of mind. For example, prosecutors have alleged that in an April 2007 conference call with investors, Tannin lied in saying he was “comfortable” with the funds’ performance, when days earlier, he had emailed Cioffi over concerns about a market research report. He wrote that if the report is “ANYWHERE CLOSE to accurate, I think we should close the funds now.”

Brune said the email, when read in its entirety, actually showed that at the same time that Tannin had concerns, he saw a potential buying opportunity. She said Tannin and the other managers became “excited” because they believed they could use the research as a tool to help turn the funds’ performance around, according to reporting by WSJ’s Amir Efrati, who attended.

All pretty normal, as summations go. It wasn’t so much the words as the demeanor, that was atypical. Efrati reports that Brune’s voice got soft and she looked as if she might tear up several times. At the conclusion of her remarks, her voice quivered and she began crying as she implored the jury to acquit her client. “Send Matt home to his family,” she said.

Source: Lawyer Website Consulting

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Martindale-Hubbell: Price increase for lawyers to display rating online goes from $50 to $599

This was a very interesting post from Kevin at Lexblog:

I received word from a law firm marketing and client development professional that, effective this January, the LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell lawyer directory is increasing the charge by 1,200% for displaying lawyer ratings for lawyers who don't subscribe to Martindale-Hubbell.
For decades Martindale-Hubbell displayed a lawyer's and law firm's peer reviewed rating free of charge. First in hard copy volumes and then online.

An 'AV Rating,' the highest a lawyer or law firm could attain, was aspired to by young lawyers and law firms, and was widely viewed as a significant factor to consider when selecting a lawyer or sizing up an opponent in the case of another lawyer.

Lawyers and law firms were rated whether they were a subscriber to the Martindale directory or not. Subscribers paid thousands of dollars (hundreds of thousands of dollars for large law firms) to have profiles of their firm and lawyers displayed in what was generally accepted as the premier lawyer directory in country.

Two years ago, Martindale started charging an administrative fee of $50 to display the rating. If a lawyer or law firm didn't subscribe to Martindale-Hubbell by paying a pretty significant fee, you pay the admin fee or your rating would no longer be displayed on what was being billed as the most widely viewed lawyer directory.

Starting in January 2010, Martindale will apparently no longer display a lawyer's or law firm's ratings, at any charge, unless the lawyer or law firm is a subscriber of the directory.

The below is an email which this legal marketing professional tells me was sent to them by LexisNexis Martindale.

As of January 1, 2010, the Ratings display will be taken down for any non-subscribing attorneys or law firm. Moving forward, the only options for Ratings display/subscription status are: 1) our three subscription packages (Standard, Enhanced or Platinum) or 2) our individual lawyer non-sub package which is currently priced at $599 an attorney. This policy change dictates that one of these subscription options is needed otherwise the attorney rating will come down effective Jan 1, 2010. There is no longer an admin fee as a solo option.

The new offer is $599 for an individual lawyer profile that includes the following:
Offers the individual lawyer unlimited online content, including the inclusion of membership in organizations, awards, publications, etc. Allows for complete control over the length and depth of the online profile content without restrictions. The more content provided, the more information prospective clients have to make a decision when selecting counsel. And, the content is searchable - over 1.7 million searches are conducted on per month.

Offers individual lawyers the opportunity to take advantage of the many resources of Martindale-Hubbell.

Is available to lawyers who wish to further showcase their expertise and credentials to their clients, prospective clients and other legal professionals that trust when selecting outside counsel.

Offers added functionality on Martindale-Hubbell Connected allowing the lawyer to create groups and invite others to join the group; create blogs and forums; and build their individual network.

Was created in response to lawyers that asked to subscribe individually on even though their firm had cancelled their MH subscription.

Display's the lawyer's Peer Review Rating online.

Allows the lawyer's Chambers icon to display.

Allows the subscribing lawyer to take full advantage of Client Review Ratings online.
No question lawyers and law firms receive more as a subscriber to Martindale than those who merely paid an admin fee for their ratings to be displayed.

But it's questionable whether law firms see as much value in the above features as Martindale does. In which case, aren't these firms going to feel they are being blackmailed into remaining as subscribers? With the advent of the Internet bringing law firm websites, Google, blogs, social media, and so many other Web 2.0 marketing alternatives, law firms no longer seeing the value of heavy annual Martindale subscription prices are leaving the directory.

Martindale may also be shooting itself in the foot here. Martindale just released a survey on the value of ratings, particularly reliable ratings. But having a pay-for-play ratings service, in which many good law firms are going to choose not to play, is going to make the Martindale ratings more and more unreliable.

How do you compare law firms and lawyers by ratings when the directory won't disclose the ratings for half of the lawyers and firms? How do you send out LexisNexis sales people touting the above survey on the value of lawyer ratings as a reason to subscribe to Martindale at the same time you're sabotaging your own ratings system?

Martindale's been a great company and directory. They have an asset of gold. Detailed and reliable lawyer and law firm profiles provided by law firms for decades because they trusted Martindale. I fear Martindale is tearing this relationship of trust to the ground.
While you still can Martindale, why not leverage this asset of lawyer profiles in an innovative fashion that conforms with where the Internet has taken us?

As I posted earlier, get your ratings everywhere immediately through an open API.
Include peer reviewed ratings on all lawyer and law firm profiles free of charge.
Contact other websites in the legal profession who would pay to use your detailed and reliable ratings. Getting reliable lawyer profiles that law firms work hard to keep accurate is no small feat. You've done it for years with a talented editorial team.

Like Google and other smart companies, focus on your core strength. Yours is having a talented editorial team that profiles lawyers and law firms.

The legal profession needs you, Martindale. There are emerging lawyer directories (Avvo, Justia, Nolo, Super Lawyers) taking hold who offer significant value to lawyers and to the American public, but there's still a place for a premier directory for the American lawyer and the nation we serve.

It's not the time to respond by saying "We're a new company. We're listening to law firms, in-house counsel, and consumers - we have surveys to back it up. We're looking at all sorts of new things. The profession will be surprised and pleased with what's coming."

We've heard that for almost 10 years from Martindale executives who have come and gone. It's time for real leadership and decisive action.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

PI Report for September '09 Now Released

The PI (Personal Injury) report for September 2009 is now up on the website. This is a great resource for personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys who want to find out what the top search keywords and phrases are for their practice online.

If you are a Personal Injury or Medical Malpractice, please visit our website today to read the PI (Personal Injury) report so you can improve your online case generation.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Another Good Article On The Importance Of Press Release SEO & Link Building

Press Releases--SEO's Booster Shot

In recent years Press Releases, traditionally one tool among many for media marketers, have taken on a whole new role in the world of Search Engine Marketing. The SEO press release is nothing less than a booster shot—an invaluable strategy for new or struggling businesses to dramatically increase the visibility of their message, improve their rankings and build long-term authority for their business.

Increased Visibility: Traditional press releases were distributed through major media, but the technology of new media is faster and reaches a wider audience. Online wire services such as PRWeb, Business Wire, or PR Newswire ensure your release will be syndicated on a host of popular and authoritative online news sites—Google and Yahoo News, among others--and their respective news feeds.

Keyword Textual Links: Strategically embedding your press release with links anchored by your targeted keywords boosts your search rankings for those pages and key terms literally overnight, as your links are desseminated among thousands of websites frequently indexed by search engines. Online wire services set a limit on links per number of words, so be sure to carefully choose your anchor text and link it to a relevant landing page with a strong call to action.

Link Authority: Even after your press release is “old” and is added to the news archives, the inbound links from these high-ranking news sources remain valuable, lending long-term credibility and authority to your site to improve your search engine rankings.

Benefits For Law Firms: Law Firms can now benefit from the use of press releases by creating tectual inbound deep-links into targeted practice area pages to promote the visibility of each. We can help you with this through law firm website consulting services.

Crafting an SEO Press Release Tactical benefits of distributing a press release aside, a good press release should have a purpose and convey a compelling message. You can use a press release to:
- Announce important news or events surrounding your business
- Promote new products, services or special offers aimed at a target audience
- Enhance your brand by responding directly to customers' questions or concerns about your product
- Offer a professional opinion about a current event or topic related to your industry

Finally, to get the most clicks for your message, include a short, catchy and descriptive headline utilizing strategic keywords relevant to your target audience. Most web consumers do judge a page by its title, and so do search engines, so be sure to make yours relatable and coherent!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New York City Is #1 for Entertainment Lawyer Searches Online In September

Searches for Entertainment Layers online in New York continue to rank as #1 nation-wide. For Entertainment Lawyers in NYC who do not have high visibility online, you are potentially losing out on the 65% of Americans who now claim they begin their searches online for a lawyer (NYSBA Journal '09).

Monday, October 12, 2009

New York City Is #1 for Business Lawyer Searches Online In September

Searches for Business Layers online in New York continue to rank as #1 nation-wide. For Business and Commercial Lawyers in NYC who do not have high visibility online, you are potentially losing out on the 65% of Americans who now claim they begin their searches online for a lawyer (NYSBA Journal '09).

New York City Tops The Nation In Bankruptcy Lawyer Searches Online In September

New York City continues to lead the nation in Bankruptcy Lawyer searches online in September. For Bankruptcy Lawyers in NYC who do not have high visibility online, you are potentially losing out on the 65% of Americans who now claim they begin their searches online for a lawyer (NYSBA Journal '09).

New York City Is #1 for Real Estate Lawyer Searches Online In September

Searches for Real Estate Layers online in New York continue to rank as #1 nation-wide. For Real Estate Lawyers in NYC who do not have high visibility online, you are potentially losing out on the 65% of Americans who now claim they begin their searches online for a lawyer (NYSBA Journal '09).

New York City Is #1 for Immigration Lawyer Searches Online In September

Searches for Immigration Layers online in New York continue to rank as #1 nation-wide. For Immigration Lawyers in NYC who do not have high visibility online, you are potentially losing out on the 65% of Americans who now claim they begin their searches online for a lawyer (NYSBA Journal '09).

New York City is #1 for Criminal Lawyer Searches Online In September

Searches for Criminal Lawyers online in New York continue to rank as #1 nation-wide. For Criminal Defense Lawyers in NYC who do not have high visibility online, you are potentially losing out on the 65% of Americans who now claim they begin their searches online for a lawyer (NYSBA Journal '09).

New York Is #1 for Estate Lawyer Searches Online In September

Searches for Estate Layers online in New York continue to rank as #1 nation-wide. For Estate Lawyers in NYC who do not have high visibility online, you are potentially losing out on the 65% of Americans who now claim they begin their searches online for a lawyer (NYSBA Journal '09).

New York In Top 3 States For Medical Malpractice Searches Online In September

Searches for medical malpractice online in New York continue to rank in the top 3 states nation-wide. For Medical Malpractice lawyers in NYC who do not have high visibility online, you are potentially losing out on the 65% of Americans who now claim they begin their searches online for a lawyer (NYSBA Journal '09).

New York In Top 4 States For Personal Injury Lawyer Searches Online In September

Searches for personal injury lawyers online in New York continue to rank in the top 4 states nation-wide. For Personal Injury lawayers in NYC who do not have high visibility online, you are potentially losing out on the 65% of Americans who now claim they begin their searches online for a lawyer (NYSBA Journal '09).

Friday, October 9, 2009

How Divorce/Family Lawyers Are Utilizing Facebook & Other Social Media

This is a great article from a divorce lawyer on how he effectively uses evidence from social media in a court of law. This also includes some very cautionary advice as well...

The popularity of social networking sites is leading to a new avenue of information for divorce and custody lawyers. Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and MySpace are practically the norm in today’s society, especially among people in their 20’s and 30’s. For anyone who has been living in a cave without wi-fi access for the last few years, Facebook and MySpace allow individuals and their friends to post pictures about themselves and give out personal information; Twitter allows
people to make continuous short updates about anything to a network of friends; and Linkedin is primarily there for business contacts.

Researching Cases Through Social Media, Facebook & Twitter

The ubiquitous updating that occurs on many of these social networking sites can lead to a plethora of relevant information in a case for a savvy family law attorney. Typically, one of the first things I do on a case is check all of the social networking sites for information not only on the other side, but about my client. If the other’s side has utilized some type of privacy setting I will often ask my client to see if a mutual friend can print off any quasipublic information. A few clients have asked me to monitor what is displayed on his/her page, which I have done. On some occasions I have advised clients to completely take down their social networking pages during a case. Amazingly, most clients now resist this request because social networking or tweeting is so much a part of a person’s daily life that they cannot give it up.

Use Social Media In A Court Of Law

Once you have obtained the information, pictures and/or videos from a social networking site, this information can be used against the other side in court. In a recent case, while discussing a mother’s (Mom) propensity to “party” when she had the children in her care, Mom testified that she hardly ever went out to nightclubs or bars. At this point I had Mom identify herself in 57 pictures that were printed off from her Facebook page one by one. In each picture I also had Mom identify the individuals in the picture (“Who is the man with his arm around your waist?”).

Using Pictures To Help Paint A Picture In Court

In another case opposing counsel had presented the father (Dad) as a very conservative and religious person to the court. However, upon cross examination I was able to show that Dad had been posting nude and semi-nude pictures of himself on MySpace. At the hearing, when I attempted to admit this into evidence, opposing counsel objected arguing that you could not tell who the person in the video was because it mainly showed “private parts.” At this point, I asked the witness if he could identify the person in the time-stamped video and he sheepishly stated that he was in the video. Needless to say, opposing counsel failed to look into his client’s MySpace and Facebook accounts, to which my client still had access because they were still “friends.”

Facebook Connections And How They Can Come Back To Haunt You

A litigant’s Facebook or MySpace friends can also be a huge issue of contention. Since nearly everyone’s cell phone now has the ability to capture pictures and many videos, this often leads to litigant’s friends posting pictures from a “Vegas” trip, which are not the type of pictures many of us would want displayed during a custody case. In order to minimize the damage from potential friends, I would suggest telling your clients to inform their friends that they are going through a custody case and there is a chance anything posted about them could end up in court.

Overall, social networking sites have the potential to lead to valuable information or great harm to your client. An out of place picture could severely harm a case, and as cliché as it sounds, a picture is sometimes worth a thousand words

Louis P. Winner is an attorney
with Seiller Waterman
and chair of the LBA
Family Law Section.

Visit our website to learn more about divorce lawyer website consulting and search engine optimization (SEO)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Why Your Website is Your Most Powerful Marketing Vehicle - NYS Bar Assoc. Journal

This is a excellent article that recently appeared in the New York State Bar Association Journal. It clearly defines in very simple terms the importance of internet marketing and the how website design and search engine optimization (SEO) are two interrelated yet very specialized disciplines.

Your website is probably your most powerful marketing vehicle

These days, more than 65% of people begin their search for a lawyer on the internet. Not only should you be there, but you should look good in comparison to your competitors’ websites. Prospective clients can and will compare so make sure you do a little competitive intelligence as you work on your site.
Legal websites provide the highest ROI

For sure-fire value in marketing, put monies and time into your website and search engine optimization. As long as you’re not squandering your monies by doing foolish things, work on your website is going to have more return on investment (ROI) than almost anything you can do. If your site is tired and you haven’t been updating it, this is a good time for a redesign. Concentrate on deepening and broadening your site, and commit to making this an ongoing project. Content is still king.
Website professionals produce professional results

Don’t let your nephew (or cousin or uncle) design your site unless he or she is a professional website designer. Make sure your site is engaging with graphics that “speak” to your potential client and some kind of tag line that brands you. For instance, a criminal lawyer might have someone being handcuffed (which certainly speaks to someone looking for a criminal lawyer), with the tag line: “In trouble? We can help.”

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should not be confused with website design

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complicated subject. Most website designers are not SEO experts. Look at the sites a company has optimized and see how they place on Google. Without any question, design and optimize for Google. What does well on Google will generally do well on the other search engines as well.

If you have limited funds to spend on marketing, your website is the first place to spend them.

Legal Marketing in Turbulent Times:
Keeping Your Practice Afloat

By Sharon D. Nelson, Esq. and John W. Simek
Source: New York State Bar Association Journal – Sept 2009

The Top 5 Things Every Law Firm Should Know About Hiring An SEO Consultant

“In our experience working with law firms both large and small, there continues to be a level of confusion amongst many law firms as to exactly what role SEO plays in the success of their firm’s online marketing and who should be handle it.” said Dustin Ruge, founder of the Seo Consultant Firm.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consulting is a specialized field of online marketing focused solely on website and online marketing performance. Much like attorneys who practice different areas of law, the best SEO consultants tend not to specialize in other disciplines of website development but rather tend to advise and direct them in a strategic way to produce optimum performance and ROI.

The following list is intended to help guide law firms in determining whether or not a specific SEO consultant is a good fit for their online marketing needs:

1.) Does your SEO consultant understand your practice? Many law firms make the mistake of hiring website developers based on their ability to produce a nice looking website instead of their ability to help them grow their practice. In order to accomplish both, successful firms should hire a law firm SEO consultant who understands how successful law firm websites can help them grow through increased visibility, case generation and conversion.

2.) Does your SEO consultant understand your geographic competition? The internet search engines are becoming increasing competitive and without a thorough understanding of what firms are competing for the same searches in your geography, your SEO consultant will not be able to put you in a cost-effective position to compete and win. Only an experienced SEO consultant who understands your geographic competition will be able to prescribe the best web presence and online marketing for your law firm.

3.) Does your SEO consultant specialize in Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an increasing specialized field that should not be confused with a website designer and content writer. Although they commonly work and strategize with these resources, they should not be confused for the same people. Many website designers will claim to know SEO but just like you would not hire a patent attorney to defend a high-profile criminal in federal courts, there is no such thing as a great website designer and SEO expert – each are their own disciplines.

4.) Does your SEO consultant have extensive experience working with law firms? This question only really matters to the law firm that wants to generate new cases from their website. Successful law firm websites are designed and optimized in a specific way to compete for cases. The best win the cases and grow their practice while the rest gain nothing from the growing trend of consumers looking for attorneys and legal advice online. So make sure your SEO consultant understands your business before they try to sell you on theirs.

5.) Does your SEO consultant offer off-site search engine optimization services? There are two type of search engine optimization: on-site SEO which has to do with the optimization of your website and off-site optimization which has to do with all of the other impacts to your website’s performance and visibility that the search engines look for. These commonly include inbound link building, Press Releases, Blogs, etc. If you hire an SEO consultant who cannot provide both on-site and off-site SEO services, you may be fighting a battle with one hand tied behind your back.

Press Release:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is click fraud still a problem? Google Adwords users be advised

I found this article very interesting since I have a number of law firms who continue to use Pay Per Click in addition to their optimized organic website rankings and optimized Google Local (Maps) results.

Although nobody can seem to agree how much click fraud exists today, one point is still clear: it still exists....

By Marc Poirier, SEW, Sep 18, 2009
I've been concerned with click fraud since the beginning of PPC times. That is probably because I was one of the early victims of click fraud -- once with Overture, and again with the early Google AdWords. This was back in 2002 and 2003.

Since then, I haven't witnessed any serious instance of suspicious traffic coming from Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft. Obviously, that doesn't mean there's no problem, far from it. But I honestly thought click fraud was mostly a thing of the past.

Until one morning this summer, when I choked on my toast and nearly died after reading the headline "Click Fraud Rise Or Fall? Click Fraud 22.9% Or 12.7%?"

How could such high percentages of paid clicks possibly be fraudulent? Shouldn't the FTC be all over this? Well, the FTC doesn't appear to be involved, and these are the published Q2 2009 results from two competing companies that monitor click fraud activity for a living.

Click Forensics, the more established of the two, says click fraud reached 12.7 percent in Q2 2009. That's down from 13.8 percent for Q1 2009 and from the 16.2 percent rate reported for Q2 2008. These numbers are high and could be scary to some, but they're more or less in line with Google's 10 percent overall invalid click rate.

Yahoo has also said their numbers are in line with Click Forensics. The difference may be explained by the fact that Click Forensics monitors traffic on Google and all other networks, which may not be as "safe" as Google for advertisers.

However, competing firm Anchor Intelligence, says the click fraud rate was actually a whopping 22.9 percent in Q2 2009, up from 21.7 percent in Q1 2009. That's just really hard to take seriously.

Facebook Accused of Click Fraud

Some advertisers even claim that PPC networks are encouraging, or even creating click fraud to inflate their revenue. For example, in July, Facebook was hit with two lawsuits claiming click fraud on their behalf (i.e., the plaintiffs are accusing Facebook of charging for clicks that never even occurred).

TechCrunch recently published a story on this topic that generated more than 230 comments, many from other advertisers crying foul.

What Google Does to Protect Their Advertisers from Click Fraud

Google is fighting click fraud attempts with technology and brains. All paid clicks go through a three-step system designed to filter out click fraud attempts.

Proactive Filtering:

1. All clicks are sent through algorithmic filters that detect the vast majority of click fraud attempts. Invalid clicks will still be sent to the advertiser's Web site, but the advertiser won't see any invalid clicks in their report, and they obviously won't be asked to pay for them. These aren't necessarily fraudulent in intent. Most of the time, they're quite innocent. For example, many visitors double click on links, or click back and trigger the AdWords tracking script a second time.

2. Offline Analysis focuses specifically on clicks that come from the AdSense program. This is done after the fact, and invalid clicks are credited. Google doesn't specify which clicks were credited, but they provide some information in the Click Quality Adjustments section of your billing summary.

Reactive Filtering

3. Investigations are conducted when advertisers complain that they think they were victims of fraud. This is quite rare, according to Google. They state that less than 0.02 percent of clicks are reactively identified as invalid. In other words, Google claims that only two out of every 10,000 clicks are known to be invalid. And even these are credited back to the advertiser.
According to Google, this filtering process is quite efficient at identifying invalid clicks. While Google doesn't specify the exact percentage of all invalid clicks, they do say that it fluctuates from month to month, that it's always less than 10 percent, and that it has been more or less stable since 2002.

Does This Mean Click Fraud on Google AdWords is Only 0.2%?

Not even close. It's impossible to know what that number is at this time.
Obviously, Google does a lot to counter click fraud. But even so, their process leaves out one important possibility: invalid clicks that aren't detected proactively by Google's algorithms, and which aren't detected by the advertiser. This is obviously impossible to quantify, and arguably could be quite a large percentage of clicks.

On the other hand, third party firms such as Click Forensics and Anchor Intelligence often forget to include the word "attempted" when they speak of click fraud, as in "attempted click fraud." The word "click fraud" clearly implies that somebody's getting ripped off.

However, because they aren't tied in directly with the search engines' internal systems, they aren't in a position to know whether the advertiser is being charged for suspicious clicks. Clearly, AdWords advertisers aren't getting ripped off by 12.7 percent -- and definitely not by 22.9 percent.

This all points to the need for further and deeper collaboration between the search engines and third-party firms like Click Forensics to reassure advertisers that their money isn't spent after bad clicks. You can see your own invalid click report by building a report with AdWords.


Visit our website to learn more about optimized versus pay per click advertising results for law firms

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How To Monitor Your Website’s Inbound Deep Links

Next to optimized content, nothing is more important to search engine visibility than a website’s inbound links. But when it comes to measuring links, each link is not the same. A number of factors go into the power of links beyond simple quantity. These include: relevance, textual anchors, Page Rank value, bleeding links, and much more.

What is commonly overlooked however is the power of the “deep link.” A deep link is nothing more than a link that goes directly to a sub-page (not your home page) of your website. This is commonly done to elevate the visibility of a specific page in the search engines when competition for similar content pages is high.

When formulating an inbound link strategy, a goal of at least 10-25% of your links should be targeted as deep links. Once your link strategy is underway, there are ways in which you can check your progress to make sure you are getting to these goals.

The first way is to determine how many of your total inbound links are to your home page as opposed to having deep links. You can check this through the following steps:

1.) Create a Yahoo account and go to:
2.) Enter the URL address of the website you want to check and click the “Add My Site” button to the right
3.) With your website now listed below, click the “Explore” button to the right
4.) On the results page, click the “Inlinks” button just below the results text and select the “Except from this domain” from the “Show Inlinks:” drop down box to the right and then select the “Entire site” selection from the “To:” drop-down just to the right of that.
5.) The number now displayed in the “Links” button above will now show you the total number of links coming into the entire website (home page and deep links combined)
6.) Next, you will want to see how many links are only coming into the home page by choosing the “Only this URL” drop down selection from the “To:” dropdown list.
7.) Once you have determined both numbers following the steps above, simply minus the “Entire Site” number by the “Only this URL” number and divide the total by the “Entire Site” number to get your percentage of deep links.

If you have a smaller website and/or if you want to see details of each deep link, you can also perform this same task by entering the URL address of each webpage into and doing the same calculations for your sub-pages and the home page of your website. This same process can also be done in Yahoo site explorer but backlinkwatch will commonly include anchor text and no follow attributes that are also useful in your analysis.

Visit our website for more details on inbound link building and analysis

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Law Firm Videos Making Strides in Search Engine Results

For anybody doing searches for lawyers in New York City, universal search is starting to create more questions. Not only are Google Local (maps) now being displayed prominently, but so are video results.

So what does all this mean? Quite simply, being number #1 in Google isn't the only thing grabbing people's attention anymore. The fact of the matter is that different people prefer to communicate in different ways...some like to read results while others prefer to view them. This is why YouTube is now the second largest search engine behind Google (both of which are conveniently owned by Google).

Videos that show up in search engine results tend to be highly optimized and syndicated - they didn't end up there by accident. The results are even more impressive - customer attraction and conversions are significantly increased when video results are present as well.

If you are an attorney and would like to learn more about how video can help attract more clients to your website, please contact the SEO Consultant Firm to learn more.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New York City (NYC) Leads Country in Divorce Lawyer Searches Online

New York City (NYC) is the national leader for divorce lawyer searches online for August 2009.

Monday, August 24, 2009

New York City (NYC) Leads Country in Immigration Lawyer Searches Online

New York and New York City (NYC) passed Miami in August as the national leader for immigration lawyer searches online.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Consumer Bankruptcies Continue At Record Highs

According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, consumer bankruptcies show no sign of abating after rising more than a third this year and may hit 1.4 million by Dec. 31 as jobs are lost and loans are harder to get.

Rising Unemployment & Growing Debt Burdens

More than 126,000 consumers filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. last month, 34 percent more than in July 2008, the ABI said in its latest report on Aug. 4. The increase came after a 36.5 percent rise in personal bankruptcies nationwide in the first six months, to 675,351, according to the ABI research group, which interprets data collected by the National Bankruptcy Research Center.

“Rising unemployment on top of high pre-existing debt burdens is a formula for higher bankruptcies through the end of this year,” ABI Executive Director Samuel Gerdano said in a statement. The group, composed of lawyers, accountants, bankers and judges, is based in Alexandria, Virginia.

Even Celebrities Are Filing

Debt problems don’t stop with sub-prime borrowers. Celebrities who filed for bankruptcy in July included movie actor Stephen Baldwin, who sought protection from creditors after lenders began foreclosure procedures against his home. Lenny Dykstra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a petition that says the former Major League Baseball All-Star owes between $10 million and $50 million.

Commerical Banks Getting Hurt By Bankruptcy Filings

Also last month, con man lawyer Marc Dreier’s luxury Manhattan condominium sold for $8.2 million, 21 percent less than what he paid two years ago, in an auction at U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. Proceeds will be used to pay creditors in Dreier’s bankruptcy case and victims of Dreier’s fraud, said Salvatore LaMonica, trustee in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

Steeply rising filings by consumers are hurting commercial banks. JPMorgan Chase & Co., the second-largest U.S. bank, predicted more losses on consumer loans last month even as it announced a rise in second-quarter profit on record investment banking fees. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said he doesn’t expect the credit card business to make a profit this year or in 2010, and the company increased its loss projections for prime and subprime mortgages.

Credit Card Losses Continue to Mount

JPMorgan said losses in its Chase credit-card portfolio may be 10 percent next quarter and will be “highly dependent” on unemployment after that. Losses for cards issued by Washington Mutual, which the bank acquired in September, may reach 24 percent by the end of the year, the company said.

JPMorgan’s credit cards lost $672 million, compared with income of $250 million in the second quarter last year. Home- equity charge-offs climbed to $1.3 billion, or 4.61 percent. Prime mortgage defaults rose to $481 million, or 3.07 percent, from $104 million, or 1.08 percent a year earlier.

Dimon, 53, said the company supported “proper consumer protection” and that pending legislation setting up an agency to monitor consumer lending practices would hurt short-term profits in credit cards.

Effects of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act

Congress, in October 2005, enacted the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, a legislative reform package intended to make it harder for consumers to get court orders wiping out their uncollateralized debt.

The act required debt counseling and a means test for would-be filers. If you are a bankruptcy attorney, how are these record numbers of filers finding you?

Source: Aug. 10 (Bloomberg)

Long-Tail Searches (Multiple Word Searches) Are Increasing

I am frequently asked by law firms what types of words and phrases prospective clients use to find them. Of course, the answer has a lot to do with their respective practice areas and the common terms searched within them. Then there is the 40-50% of those non-repeatable searches that although less in volume, tend to be more case specific and therefore more valuable to law firms.

According to a report out this year by Hitwise, the number of these long-tail searches continue to increase while the more simple searches of 3 words or less, although still significant in total volume, continues to decline. In fact, searches with 8 or more words witnessed the largest year-over-year growth at 20%.

So how do law firms increase the chances of catching these searches? SEO Design and increased SEO content is usually the first place to start. In highly competitive markets, it is also helpful to improve your off-site SEO methods as well with such things as inbound linking, Google local optimization, etc.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Some Condo & Hotel Buyers Are Going To Court

Desperate to recoup money paid to acquire condominiums in hotels, buyers from California to Florida are trying to use the courts to get their money back, arguing that condo-hotel developers violated securities laws when selling the units.

A few years ago, condo-hotels seemed like a great idea. Hotel developers could offset construction costs by selling rooms to individual buyers, then share the rental income with the owners every time a room was booked. However, instead of the lucrative venture some buyers claim they were promised by developers, condo-hotels have turned out to be one of the worst investments in decades.

The industry is getting hit on two fronts: The condo crash has wiped out the value of many units, and the hotel bust means the rooms are being rented only infrequently and at much lower rates than anticipated.

Now, some buyers are arguing in court that purchasing a unit in a condo-hotel is similar to buying a stock, where the buyer is entirely reliant on the operational skills of management for any return. Therefore, they contend, the purchases should have been regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which would force companies to issue a detailed prospectus and have agents licensed to sell both real estate and securities, a rare combination.

"These were not simple real-estate purchases," said Jared Beck, an attorney in Miami who is working on dozens of suits against condo-hotel developers. "A hotel is a profit-making enterprise, and by purchasing a condo unit you are giving investment capital and you expect a return." Moreover, Mr. Beck said, "When you look through these marketing materials, there's no question that in the mind of a reasonable consumer you're going to think it's an investment."
But attorneys for developers say such cases represent little more than buyer's remorse.

"What we're seeing across this entire country are buyers who have signed contracts and now want to take the position that [the] contract doesn't exist. From a legal perspective, I find that highly problematic," said Alan Garten, assistant general counsel for the Trump Organization, a defendant in several such cases.

Dozens of cases are in lower courts. A wave of decisions over the next few years could determine whether the condo-hotel business model survives. Attorneys said that if the courts decide that condo-hotel purchases should be regulated, the condo-hotel model won't be viable.

Plaintiffs may have an uphill battle, however. Lower courts have shown little sympathy for buyers of regular condos who alleged similar violations of securities laws, blasting them for not reading purchase contracts closely enough. But Mr. Beck and other lawyers are undeterred. They argue that the revenue structure of condo-hotels clearly separates them from plain vanilla condos.

In 1973, the SEC released guidelines related to the purchase of condos that specified when such purchases are subject to securities law. If developers made claims about rental income, marketed a rental program without prompting or placed any limitations on occupying units, the purchase could be considered a security. The "smoking gun" is often a newspaper ad or marketing brochure, said Rob Webb, senior hospitality partner in the law firm Baker & Hostetler LLP in Orlando, Fla. "Quite frankly, the main exhibit to the complaint and the single piece of evidence that's most damaging is the developer's own sales brochures," Mr. Webb said.

The SEC elaborated on those rules in a nonbinding 2004 letter to Canadian developer Intrawest Corp. Plaintiffs in current suits allege that developers exceeded the guidelines set in that letter. An SEC spokesman said the commission wouldn't comment on cases it wasn't investigating and said he was unaware of any additional forthcoming guidance or regulation.
Buyers claim that even if developers didn't make such promises about rental income on paper or in marketing materials, they did verbally.

John Mansour, 67 years old, bought a unit for about $700,000 at a complex now known as the Signature at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He said he told agents from the start that he intended to use the 30th-floor penthouse as an investment and was encouraged to do so, with promises of $600-a-night rents. Mr. Mansour, a resident of Los Angeles who also owns a regular condo in Las Vegas, said he explained to the developers that he had no intention or need to occupy the Signature unit.

"They said it was OK not to live there, 'we will rent it, you will make a lot of money on your investment.' " He expects his lender, Washington Mutual, to foreclose, although he is trying to arrange a short sale.

A class-action lawsuit filed against the project's developers is in arbitration. Steve Morris, a Las Vegas attorney representing MGM in the case, denied that the condo units were marketed as investments, and said contracts signed by all buyers specifically disclaimed that.

In at least one case, a buyer charges that a developer and lender hid the fact that condo-hotel units were being purchased as investments by changing the wording on loan documents.
Laurie McNulty, a 40-year-old pharmacist in Charleston, S.C., who is suing over her purchase of a nearly $700,000 unit in a condo-hotel in Clearwater, Fla., said that when she applied for a mortgage at First National Bank of Cape Coral, Fla., in 2004, she indicated that the condo was for an investment. However, the loan documents were changed to show that the loan was for a second home, a change she said she only discovered once she had hired an attorney.

In the lawsuit -- which was filed in federal court in Florida against the bank; Cay Clubs, the developers of the condo-hotel; and others -- she argued that because her unit "was marketed as primarily an 'investment' with a heavy emphasis on leaseback payments and expectation of a profit from the sale of the unit, the investment constituted an investment contract and therefore a 'security.' "

Cay Clubs, which left multiple properties unfinished in Florida and Nevada, has closed down and couldn't be reached to comment. Fifth Third Bancorp, which acquired First National Bank, wouldn't comment.

Learn more about how to market your law firm to condo buyers


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Twitter Tweet Not So Sweet According To Lawsuit Filed In Chicago

It was a not-so-sweet Tweet about a Chicago apartment. So Horizon Group Management LLC filed a libel lawsuit Monday against former tenant Amanda Bonnen, claiming one of her alleged Twitter posts "maliciously and wrongfully" slammed her apartment at 4242 N. Sheridan and the company managing it.


Horizon Group Management has filed a lawsuit against Amanda Bonnen for publishing a false and defamatory Tweet on Twitter. Bonnen was living at an apartment managed by Horizon Group Management at 4242 N. Sheridan Rd. (Google)

LAWSUIT DETAILS PDF: Read the lawsuit details

The May 12 Tweet under the handle "abonnen" reads in part: "Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay." The suit and Twitter account identifies "abonnen" as Amanda Bonnen.

Jeffrey Michael, whose family has run Horizon for more than 25 years, said: "The statements are obviously false, and it's our intention to prove that." He said that while she moved out recently, the company never had a conversation about the post and never asked her to take it down.


"We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization," he said, noting that the company manages 1,500 apartments in Chicago and has a good reputation it wants to preserve.
Horizon, which filed the suit in Cook County Circuit Court, is seeking $50,000 in damages.

Click here to learn more about lawyers and social media like twitter


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Becoming A Hot Topic

Local Search Engine Optimization for Locally Focused Companies

Although many companies begin using search engine optimization (SEO) to help increase their national - or perhaps international - visibility online, some companies are only concerned about attracting customers in their neighborhood, something experts says is much easier.

Local Law Firms Looking to Boost Local Search Engine Traffic

As part of its Website Remedies feature, gathers a number of experts in an attempt to assist businesses looking for help with their website. Its most recent piece focused on North Carolina-based law firm Conroy & Weinshenker which is looking to boost local traffic.

Local Search Engine SEO Makes It Easier To Focus

Pamela Swingley of California-based Savvy Internet Marketing says there is a lot of focus on local search at the moment and notes that creating search engine optimization (SEO) content for local traffic is simpler than trying to lure people from across the country."

Attracting local search traffic is much easier than optimizing a website for a national or international audience," she told "Local search is starting to really heat up."The experts say Conroy & Weinshenker should expand their content to help increase their search engine optimization (SEO). The news provider also suggests that the site update its news site at least once a month. While this can have the benefit of increasing SEO, it can also be of assistance to prospective clients.

Google Local (Maps) Added To Search Engine Results

Many local companies saw an increase in search engine optimization (SEO) earlier this year without doing anything to their websites when Google made local search the default setting for result pages.

Click here to learn more about Local (Google Local) Search Engine Optimization


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Should Lawyers Be Using Twitter?

When consulting lawyers on web marketing, I am frequently asked if they should be using Twitter – the new micro-blog that rivals the Cabbage Patch Dolls in viral zeal. Much like ALL web marketing, I respond with one simple answer: what’s the goal? If an attorney can answer this question, then the answer tends to be pretty straight forward. By the way, nobody tells me that their goals are to tell others what they had for breakfast – this is simply filling a vacuum that typically follows.

The Challenge is that most lawyers do not know what value Twitter can provide them

Twitter is referred to as a micro-blog and is nothing more than a way to tell others "what are you doing" within 140 characters or less. This works out to around 20-30 words within 1-2 sentences. If you are a verbose writer, this is a challenge to say the least. All of these short "tweets" are listed chronologically much like a blog so what you are doing now is where the eye commonly follows. People (anybody for that matter, without permission) can "follow" your tweets and keep up with you. Here are a few lists of lawyer s on Twitter (and yes, some of them will tell you want they had for breakfast this morning):

- 145 Lawyers to follow:
- Big Law Lawyers:
- New York Firms:
- Lawyer Mom’s:
- AmLaw 100 Users:

Extensions of Twitter to Facebook, Blogs, Blackberries, etc.

Yes, Twitter is yet another social media tool but when deployed properly, it provides useful extendibility. For example, if you have a Facebook account, you can have tweets from your twitter account feed into your facebook account. You can also easily tweet from your mobile phone and blackberries as well. For those of you who actively use Facebook, you may be wondering why you would want to tell people what you are doing on Twitter when you can do the same thing in Facebook. The difference between the two is that the only people who can follow you on Facebook are those people who are granted permission to do so by you. On Twitter, anybody can access your Tweets. For example, you may have a lawsuit filed against Southwest airlines but nothing prevents you from following their tweets about which flights are offering WiFi service today. Who knows, maybe one day they’ll even tell you what’s for breakfast…what a novel idea!

All valuable technologies are understandable, measureable and sustainable

Running a law practice is also running a business and decisions that impact the growth of your practice should be based on a cost benefit analysis. To account for your practice, everything you utilize can be classified as either an asset or liability. For those of us who skipped accounting 101, this is a pretty simple understanding: assets provide incremental cash flow while liabilities require a cash outflow to maintain. In order the measure cash flow, you must be able to measure it from the source. Ultimately an asset will provide value to your practice and your best value is provided by products and services that provide understandable, measurable and sustainable returns on your time and money. Since your time comes at a cost, this must be considered when it comes to using any automation tools – including Twitter.

Twitter has a high abandon rate for a reason

Over 60% of people who create Twitter accounts never come back. Just take a look at many Twitter accounts online today and you will see what I mean. People will typically tweet a couple of times for maybe a day or a week and then all of a sudden, they must have stopped eating breakfast right? What typically happens to most of us is as explained above – the value provided to that user through the use of twitter was not understandable, measureable and sustainable. For example, how many cabbage patch doll hand-me-downs have you seen floating around lately? I think you get my point.

Don’t use Twitter as part of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy

If you plan on adding links from your Twitter account to your website in hopes of increasing your website rankings, don’t bother – Google won’t count them. Twitter uses a little trick in their system called "nofollow" which basically tells search engines not to count any link value from your Twitter account to somewhere else like your website. This is not to say that linking to your website, blog, news, etc. is not important to drive traffic to these web properties. Just understand that the links are only good for directing traffic, not creating inbound link value.

Some lawyers could find Twitter useful

If you are a practicing lawyer, your time is your money. Twitter is offered as a free service but there is nothing free about your lost time. If you bill at say $250/hour for your services and you tweet for 1 hour a week, Twitter has cost you around $1000/month in opportunity costs. So can you substantiate this? The following are a list of common reasons why a lawyer may find Twitter useful as an asset to their practice:

· Do people REALLY want to know what you are doing (pure narcissism doesn’t count here)?
· Are you frequently on TV?
· Are you considered an authority in your practice area?
· Do people want to see you in action in court?
· Do you appear in the newspapers?
· Are you handling high-profile cases?
· Are you well known and/or considered a celebrity in your work?
· Do you actively network online and want to research/follow clients?

Most lawyers who should not be using Twitter

The reality is most lawyers are not prepared to successfully use Twitter. If you do not find the common criteria listed above as useful to you, then all you are left with is broadcasting what you had for breakfast – if anybody really cares. The simple fact of the matter is that unless you are doing something that others find truly interesting and useful, then you will not have followers and will ultimately become yet another billboard in a cornfield of Twitter. Oh course the system is free – until you commit your time to it.

Measuring your success on Twitter

If you decide to try out Twitter and make a go of it, here are a few ways you can help promote and measure your success:

- Count your followers on Twitter. Are they increasing overtime? Who are they – anybody you recognize? If you do TV, radio and media appearances, are there media contacts and PR agents following you on Twitter? Are there other attorneys who specialize in your field of work following you?

- Promote your twitter account in your email signatures, on your website, in your blogs, newsletters, on facebook, in LinkedIn, etc. and see who responds. If people see that you have a Twitter account and decide not to follow you, then this might tell you right away how useful this information really isn’t to others.

- Ask your new clients if they actively use Twitter and if so, provide them with a link to your account and see if they follow.

- Look before you jump – don’t waste your time unless you have defined goals BEFORE you begin to use Twitter. If your goals are not met and it proves to be a liability for you, let me go – you and your cabbage patch doll will be happy you did.

SEO Consultant Firm - The Search Engine Optimization Experts

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Law Firm Blogs That Produce New Cases and Revenues

When discussing blogs, attorneys will commonly ask me if they are an effective means of internet marketing time and dollars. In otherwords, beyond the inbound linking and ease of publishing news and articles, can they generate new cases?

Well, I met yesterday with one of my clients: Andrew Lustigman of the Lustigman Law Firm. They have a blog located at Andrew's practice focuses in on Advertising Law, Promotions & Sweepstakes Law and as a result of the content on his blog, he was able to retain Apple as a client.

So when prospective clients like Apple are online looking for legal representation, you need to ask yourself how efective blogging can help you grow your practice as well...

Resources: The 15 Things Every Lawyer Should Know About Blogging

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Advertising News: Lawyers say Craigs List is now a viable way to generate business

It’s free, easy to find and use, and provides access to a wide audience. And while there are downsides to Craigslist, solo and small-firm practitioners say the website can be a useful practice-building tool as long as you know what to expect.

Possibly the largest classified advertising website, Craigslist provides a legal services section within each of its dozens of local sites. Anecdotal evidence suggests it’s getting plenty of use: On a single day in April, the Chicago site alone had more than 100 attorney ads posted with attention-grabbing headlines like “Low-Cost Bankruptcy” and “Don’t Let a Divorce Make You Go Broke—Free Consultation.”

High Lawyer Inquiries and Case Conversions with Craigs List Advertising

Elk Grove, Calif., solo Jonathan Stein has been using the site for nearly three years, and he gets five to 10 inquiries per week. He estimates that 80 percent of those inquiries turn into clients.

“Consumers these days go to Craigslist for everything,” including lawyers, says Stein. “It does take a little while to figure out how to use it effectively. I probably spent my first six months getting a lot of garbage phone calls.”

How Lawyers Can Make the Best Use of Craig's List Advertising

Stein now has learned how to avoid those garbage calls by refining his ad and knowing what to expect. Those contacting him about personal injury matters tend to be just starting their attorney search and are often looking only for basic information, while those who contact him about foreclosure matters are often ready to hire a lawyer because of the amount of research they’ve already done.

Overall, Stein thinks the site is valuable. “For the 10 minutes I spend a week putting up my ads, my return on investment is immeasurable.”


High Growth Rates for Family / Divorce Law Attorneys on Craig's List

Kent, Wash., solo Susan L. Beecher started advertising on the site more than a year ago, intending to focus on business and employment cases. But the economy forced her to expand her practice into family law, which she’s found generates the greatest response. She’s brought in 25 to 30 clients so far.

The main benefits for Beecher are the price and time involved; the primary downside has been respondents who try to chat her up for free help.

“They feel that their cause is just, especially with family law,” she says. “They’ve lost their parenting rights. They feel this is just so horrible, some­body should be willing to do this for free. And we can’t do that.”

Lea Bickerton, who practices with her husband, William, says their Pittsburgh-based criminal defense firm began advertising on Craigslist last October. Most of the clients they’ve brought in—10 or so—have been expungement cases.

Criminal Law Lawyers Using High Quality Ads on Craig's List

The Bickertons take the time to design a “first-class-all-the-way” ad­vertisement, so they don’t dilute their brand.

“People think, ‘If they’re on Craigslist, how good can they be?’ ” she says. “It’s a reputation type of thing. When you see the quality of other ads on Craigs­list, it might not make you look good to be in that type of company. That’s why it’s important for us to put in a classy ad.” Craigslist does not allow more than three ads within 48 hours, nor can attorneys repeat ads in multiple cities, Stein says. To stay true to the spirit of the site, he generally stays below the maximum.

“The hard-core Craigs­list users will flag your post if they don’t like it, and then your posts start disappearing,” he says. “They get offended if they think you are spamming the list.” Ethics experts at the ABA say they don’t see particular issues with Craigslist that are different from any other website.

“It’s just like any other ad anywhere else,” says Art Garwin, dep­uty director of the ABA’s Center for Professional Responsibility. “You can’t put up anything that’s false or misleading.”

“It’s not the media that’s the concern, it’s the message,” agrees Will Hornsby, staff counsel in the ABA’s Division for Legal Services. “The rules are the rules, and lawyers have the obligation to comply.”

Source: ABA Journal:

SEO Consultant Firm - Law Firm Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

NYC: foreclosure filings and consumer credit cases explode over the last year

Letter From The President Of The New York County Lawyers' Association:

Now is the time for all good lawyers to come to the aid of their neighbors. We have seen the number of foreclosure filings and consumer credit cases explode over the last year. According to The New York Times, "Lawyers, judges and tenant advocates say the staggering economy has sent an increasing number of middle-class renters across New York City to the brink of eviction, straining the legal and financial services of city agencies and charities. . . . Overall, court records show that the number of cases filed citywide for nonpayment of rent jumped about 19 percent in the first two months of 2009 from the same period last year, to 42,257 from 35,588." This translates into more than 250,000 eviction cases annually.


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