I get a lot of emails trying to sell me online services. I ignore most of them, but this one caught my eye:
It appears to be some sort of service allowing me to compare other lawyers’ online marketing with my own. I’m not positive because I have absolutely no interest in exploring the depth of other lawyers’ desperation in a slow economy. The service itself wasn’t what interested me, anyway.
What interested me was the first lawyer listed in the email, a “local competitor” they claim is using online marketing to “attract customers” away from my business. I find that statement problematic because that particular lawyer was recently disbarred and is presently being held without bond after being charged with sexual abuse, sexual misconduct with a minor, and molestation of a child. Avvo hasn’t updated his page to reflect that either. Way to go, online lawyer marketing guys.
The problem here isn’t just that this company is touting a disbarred lawyer as an example of someone I should try to emulate. That particular lawyer actually does (or did, more accurately) a great job for his clients; I was impressed with him when we represented co-defendants a few years ago. I’m sure he would do a fine job for new clients if he could, but he can’t right now. The problem is that the last thing he has on his mind is attracting “customers” away from my business, yet the statement in the email may in fact be true.
What does it say about the online business model that it works just the same for you when you’ve been in jail for a year? How much discipline does a business source like that take to create and maintain? How terrifying is it that people are actually finding a lawyer through such a source? What’s both funny and scary is that I’m calling out in this post two services that appear better thought out than most. Most of the SEO and web marketing emails I get look like they’ve been written as part of a final exam in Nigerian scam artist school. I bet people actually use the service that sent me that email. I know people use Avvo.
If you don’t exist on the internet, you don’t exist. That’s what the SEO parasites keep screaming. If you exist on the internet, though, you still may not actually exist. Do the marketers worry that they’re selling a service that indiscriminately funnels individuals with real life problems to lawyers who can’t help them or in some instances may even hurt them? Do the lawyers who buy into all of this care that their practice took no skill or hard work to build? I can imagine these lawyers relaxing at their beautiful estate in their golden years, tutoring eager young proteges about the secret to their success. “SEO, kid, that’s where the money is. Put up a slick website, start a flawg, claim your profile everywhere you can, and retweet like your career depends on it. It does.”
If your business model depends on a service that doesn’t distinguish between you and a guy who can’t practice law, a service that would do the same for anyone, lawyer or not, so long as that person can cut a check, are the clients you get really something to be proud of? There are people out there who care as much about how they get their client as they care that they get clients. Those are the lawyers who get my referrals. The SEO cheerleaders can keep their leads to themselves.
Filed under: Marketing