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Attorney At Law Magazine

There’s this thing called Attorney At Law Magazine here in Arizona. It’s a fairly slick-looking magazine I get regularly despite never having subscribed. I just got one last week, in fact. Looking around a bit, I actually realized there are things called Attorney At Law Magazine in a whole bunch of places (like California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Virginia). What’s going on?

Attorney At Law Magazine isn’t really a magazine in what I’d consider the traditional sense at all. The lawyers’ “articles” there are hardly Pulitzer Prize material; they basically make it look like the magazine just keeps realizing how awesome various rotating superstar lawyers with sexy pictures are and decides to report their awesomeness as news. Can you guess what the qualifications for joining the magazine’s elite ranks are? Paying them. It’s marketing, plain and simple.

I know it for a fact because they approached me. An incredibly nice guy with Target Market Media Publications contacted me about doing a “feature” in his magazine. He lavished me with praise. He actually read my blog, more than any person I’ve ever interviewed for a job had, in fact. He talked about my unique voice (obviously he’s a real connoisseur of blawgs), the quality of my writing (he must love run-on sentences, commas, and prepositions at the end of sentences, also sharing in my confusion when it comes to semicolons and parenthesis and hyphens), and my reputation (what the hell? no one knows who I am except for the fifty people at the county attorney who compulsively read the one super-mean post I wrote about them). He sure did butter me up.

Only at the very end did he finally tell me that I might need to pay for the opportunity to appear in his magazine. If it cost me twenty bucks a week just to have him come into my office and tell me how swell I am again, I’d probably be a paying customer. I need a cheer-up now and again, after all. When I got the price breakdown, though, my reaction was amazement that attorneys pay so much to make it look like someone else is writing about them out of the goodness of their own heart.

A brief look through the company’s website did help to put things in perspective. The perspective isn’t so great though:

With all the possibilities open to a trade magazine, why did Attorney at Law Magazine® select the legal field? The answer is simple: It is the recession-proof profession. In good times or bad, attorneys are working hard and billing out their hours. It is the one profession that is not easily affected by the ups and downs of the market.

Man are there going to be a lot of embarrassed people at Above the Law when they realize law is the recession-proof profession. Or maybe not.

Maybe it isn’t that it’s recession proof for us because we work so hard and bill out our hours unaffected by the market but that it’s recession proof for marketers because we’ll pour every last cent we have into whatever new thing comes along because we’re a special mix of greedy, desperate, and just solvent or credit-worthy enough to sink what little we have into something someone charismatic tells us will make us achieve what we all know we deserve because our parents praised us too much. I can imagine that many a Ponzi scheme and plenty of others investment scams are pretty recession proof as well, though I’d hardly say finance is the recession-proof profession.

I often wish the bar would quit protecting the public from lawyers for a second and think about stopping parasites from leeching money from its members, but I can’t really fault the people at Attorney At Law Magazine for doing what they do. They’re great sales people, or at least the guy I met was, and the same State Bar, the one that regulates me and every other lawyer in Arizona, does more or less the same thing every time some associate somewhere in the state switches firms or moves up in the world and gets a nice little photo in the back of the bar’s magazine. I don’t know if those firms pay for it, but I imagine they do. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Attorney At Law Magazine isn’t doing anything that bad, but it isn’t doing the bar as a whole or its reputation any favors. It’s just another business making money off of lawyers and hopefully finding a few deserving ones willing to shell out a pile of cash for a story about them with the promise it will bring in a few more clients. More than anything, it’s a sign that the door that’s closing on lawyers in this economy is just as much a window opening for marketers selling expensive hope. If you disagree with me, please re-read that quote above, compare it to what most real lawyers in this economy have experienced, and tell me I’m wrong.

I thought one of my high school science teachers was onto something when he told me I should wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which on fills up first, but maybe he was wrong. If you’re selling wishes to lawyers, there’s a good chance you ‘ll be wildly successful no matter how stupid your idea is. Sadly, what the lawyers are getting may not be much better than what’s in the other hand.

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10 Responses to "Attorney At Law Magazine"

  1. Randy Phillips says:

    This is such a one-way article. The practice of law is also about marketing yourself and in order to market one’s self – it costs money. I’m sure that no one that has written anything on this page – works for free. The days of Paul Revere riding through the streets with the news are gone. Attorneys and physicians, realtors, and just about every business markets themselves. The way you choose to do it is a decision that you have to make. I am very familiar with this publication as well as other “trade publications” and that is exactly what it is – a trade publication! It is not published to the general public and I can tell you that the attorneys that I have seen on the covers of these magazines are “Cover Worthy” in their own right and in their particular practice area. The attorneys are vetted by the “publishers’ and they would not put an attorney on the cover that has strikes against them by the state or local bar associations or even a company (also marketing) called AVVO. Do you think people work for FREE? Do you or do you charge for your services. I think your review and your ideas concerning this publication are unfair. These are attorneys marketing themselves to other attorneys for referrals. Do you think a BILLBOARD is better or how about a video. What about an opinion source like this one – the judges and the jury! Does your web-designer and your internet host work for FREE? Get off you high horse and open your eyes! This is not a free world. Why do you think all of the major newspapers including Legal Journals are going out of business? It’s because of JUDGES LIKE YOU! There were two times as many graduates from law school this past year then there were jobs available. Lawyers must market themselves and this is a very quiet sophisticated way of marketing.

  2. […] nothing more than expensive, lawyer-marketing vanity press, and it’s something I’ve criticized before here on this blog. Basically, Brian paid to have an effusive article written about himself. His […]

  3. Past Publisher says:

    You are so right about this publication. It also surprises me what suckers are out there. The publisher of this magazine, Ken Minniti, used to be involved with a magazine of a similar format, Broker Agent Magazine. And I signed on to open a new market. I will say, however, that the “shining” Realtor that we featured did not have to pay to be featured on the cover. But we did charge him/her for reprinted flyers of their articles for their marketing purposes. Also, it was standard business to get the names/numbers of their strategic business partners: Title Companies, Inspectors, Mortgage Brokers etc., and then prey on them that “don’t they want to support XX Realtor who is going to be featured in an upcoming edition?” As I side note – after putting blood,sweat, tears and several months funding myself to get published, the magazine, along with the advertising revenues were taken from me via a FedEx letter. You nailed this. These publications are run by unethical scum bags!

  4. Myron Scott says:

    Thanks. I got a call and suspected something like this, but it took a lot of online time to find an article as clear and to the point as yours.

    From what you say, reminds me of those buy-your-kids’-way-into-Who’s-Who deals high school graduate’s parents get or at least used to get.
    Not illegal, but not all that meaningful, either.

  5. Matt
    Excellent post and timely. Thoroughly enjoyed the final paragraph and your high school teacher’s sage admonition. Well done.

    In truth, however, the “parasites” show up during law school attracted by the anxiety-inducing cut throat survival instincts of wanna-be lawyers. The blood-sucking continues throughout school via the selling of dubious study aids, instructional supplements, tutoring gimmickry, overpriced casebooks and hornbooks and then manifests once more in post-graduation overpriced bar reviews. Once admitted to practice, the hustle never abates. The Bar, for one, always leverages its captive ‘customers’ with pricey programs, conventions, publications, and MCLE.

    And nowadays, the B.S. onslaught is even worse — with every online marketing Tom, Dick and Harry shilling search and referral advertising; or solicting paid participation in expensive ‘sponsored’ websites; or making redundant SEO come-ons; or inviting the desperate to open their social media kimonos to unproductive, time-wasting business networking, lawyer rating and job referral services.

    And what about all those ego-massaging, self-pleasuring so-called ‘best,’ ‘super’ or otherwise ‘stupendous’ lawyer paid-advertising publications that mysteriously appear in our mailboxes without request or subscription?

    – Mo

    networking and job search

    1. Matt Brown says:

      You paint a grim (but entirely accurate) picture of things – I’d never thought about how the sorts of things that bother me with lawyer marketing started before we were even lawyers. I suppose the only good part in all of this is that there are still people in law school and in the profession who don’t give in to every shiny new thing dangled in front of them.

  6. Personally I like you’re writing style. I too, as well as others are getting the ego pandering treatment too. I also wrote a blog that is a bit more specific in the details but wont disrespect you by directing your readers to it. Should you choose to take look and borrow from it please do.

  7. When times are worse lawyers market more.

    1. Matt Brown says:

      Times clearly still suck then.

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