Should A Lawyer Join One Of Those Business Networking Groups?

Lots of lawyers come to me asking if those referral groups were worth their time. I checked out one called LeTip a number of years ago and wasn’t really impressed with the opportunities. It felt too forced for my liking, and I’m not really into the glad-handing that goes on.

There’s a similar group called BNI. This group apparently forces group members to refer business to one another. In thinking about it, the scheme doesn’t sound like it’s really fit for lawyers. My suspicions were confirmed by reading an from Oregon (OSB Formal Ethics Op. No. 2004-175 concerning “Lawyer Membership in Business Referral Clubs”). The issue seems to be the mandatory referrals to group members.

“The question posed to the legal ethics committee was whether Lawyer A may participate in the activities of the association, and the committee concluded that the lawyer could not do so. The ethics committee found that participation in the association would violate DR 2-103(A) which prohibits a lawyer from compensating or giving anything of value to a person or organization to promote, recommend or secure employment by a client or as a reward for having made a recommendation resulting in employment by a client. The committee also concluded that participation in the association would violate DR 2-105 which prevents a lawyer from referring a client to a nonlawyer with the understanding that the lawyer will receive a fee, commission or anything of value in exchange for the referral.”

Read the entire formal ethics opinion. As far as I’m concerned, I think I’d leave these organizations to other professions.

Technorati Tags: BNI, letip, legal,

Marketing Your Practice Online Can Be A Lot Easier

What would you, a consumer bankruptcy lawyer, do if there were a way for you to spend five bucks, write a few ads and immediately reach millions of people?  And what if that system could not only make you a ton of money, but also let you test ads to see which one worked best?

Well, Google does just that and a whole lot more.  Google has a system that makes it possible, for the first time in the history of the world, to instantly get access to over 100 million people – in less than 10 minutes.  And all for less money than you’re spending on a day’s worth of a Yellow Pages ad or television spot.

It’s called Google AdWords and it’s incredible.  In fact it may be the first and best thing to do to get qualified traffic to your site.

But it’s not always as easy as I just made it sound – AdWords has some nuances, and most people have a rough time at first.  In fact, when I started using AdWords I was spending almost a thousand dollars a week and getting nothing for it.

Maybe you use it already, maybe not.  If you do, you definitely know what I’m talking about.  It seems so easy, so absolutely simple, to toss up an ad.  Google sells it as the easiest thing since sliced bread, right?  But then the charges roll in and you realize you’re spending thousands of dollars a month and not really getting all that much in return.

I discovered Perry Marshall, the Google AdWords guru.  He has written a very helpful e-course called “5 days to success with Google AdWords” and there’s no charge for it.

You can find out about it by clicking here.

Perry’s the smartest AdWords marketing guy out there, and the fact that this course is free just blows me away.  I did it about a year ago and now I’m spending less money than ever and getting better results with AdWords than I ever thought possible.

So go sign up for the course.  Let me know what you think.

And by the way, the link you click will have an affiliate code on it. Perry has agreed to let me know if any of my readers sign up for the course, which will help me to figure out how helpful this program is for consumer bankruptcy lawyers.

Collect, Manage and Cite Your Research Sources – Free

OK, every lawyer wants this.  Zotero is a Firefox extension that lets you collect, manage and cite your research sources.  It grabs the citations in your browser window, saves it offline, and lets you review and manage it all later.

Free, free, free.  Firefox only, folks. So you IE users will need to convert. This isn’t the only reason to do so, but that’s a post for another day.

Thanks to Chuck Newton, my favorite Third Wave Lawyer who isn’t me, for the pointer.  If you don’t read Chuck’s blog then you’re missing out on some cool stuff.

Technorati Tags: zotero, third wave, chuck newton, firefox

Make Clients and Referral Sources Feel Special: Customize Your Greeting Cards

By Mark Solomon, TheBillableHour.com

Effective marketing makes clients, referral sources, customers and prospects feel good about your services and/or products. There is no substitute for personal contact in good relationship-building. There are countless opportunities to make those contacts throughout the year. Besides the traditional year-end holiday season, birthdays, anniversaries, recent referrals and career milestones warrant sincere expressions of appreciation and recognition. Conveying sincerity is of utmost importance.

Unfortunately, most of the greeting cards circulated by businesses generate all the warmth of a pro forma document. The sheer volume of the mail that must be sent causes most businesses to the select the most generic greeting card possible—a “one size fits all” approach that virtually guarantees that the recipient will treat the card like another piece of junk mail. Even if the card does find a place on the office bulletin board, it won’t attract much attention because it looks just like all the others.

When shopping for greeting cards for my family and friends, I’ve spent up to an hour browsing for just the right card for each. If I see a card in March that’s perfect for my sister’s birthday in January, I’ll buy it and file it away at home. I try to find cards that are humorous, because they best convey my personality, and because of the anticipated smiles on the faces of the people I care about.

Internet technology now enables on-line card stores to offer selections of customizable printed greeting cards for virtually any niche or profession. Hundreds of images may be browsed with a few mouse clicks according to occasion or by profession. Within the card you write your own personalized message your choice of fonts and colors. Some online vendors may also allow you to upload a photograph, logo and/or signature. Another useful option is the choice of having the cards mailed to you for addressing, or sent directly to the recipients.

Your referral sources and clients will appreciate the personal touch, the effort that you put in to find that card that speaks directly to them in particular. And I strongly urge you to consider a funny (but tasteful) card. Nothing resonates with people like recognizing the humor in their working lives, and nothing is more sincere than sharing a laugh. Stand out from your competitors, evoke that all-important good feeling: your clients and referral sources will remember you, and they will look forward to doing business with you.

Mark Solomon is a partner in The Billable Hour Company, which sells humorous gifts and greeting cards especially for lawyers, law students and legal professionals. The Billable Hour Card Store carries over 150 cover images appropriate for a variety of holidays and occasions. The company’s website is at www.TheBillableHour.com.