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."

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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.

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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

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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.