I admit to being an old dog who is trying to learn new tricks. And marketing has changed. I can no longer just put a shingle up or an advertisement in the telephone Yellow Pages.
Nearly 30+ years in the law practice business and I'm learning new things like Direct Email Marketing and B2C and social media advertising. It's all a jumbled mess and everybody pretends to know what works and what doesn't. A lawyer could literally spend 24/7 on marketing and not what I love -- practicing law.
Here's a recent tale that changed the way I practice law forever...and for better.
I "boosted" a recent Facebook advertisement. It's peculiar to me that I must pay people to read my thoughts, but I realize times have changed.
The content of the ad violated every rule of "what not to do" = it was a list (a "listicle" in the parlance of today), it wasn't overly content-worthy and I failed to filter comments for profanity. In short, it was a boring "5 Things to Never Do..."-type post.
I always get some positive comments. And I always get some negative comments. And a pattern has developed.
The negative comments are nearly 99.99% of the time from working class, white, blue-collar men in cities of less than 100,000 people.
Draw your own conclusions as to "why." Those comments also contain similar content: "ambulance chasing" or "bloodsucker" and profane words.
After so many negative comments, you develop a thick skin. But, one day I decided to respond and it changed me.
"You, sir, produce nothing in this society. You do not make things safer or better. You make money off other's calamities. Get off of my Facebook...."
I wasn't stunned. He fit the mold. And I completely understood the frustration involved in seeing both Facebook advertising and lawyer advertising. It can be overwhelming.
So, I went against all advice for advertising and lawyering. I responded.
"Sir, I understand your frustration. But, my law firm provides a vital function in your community. We make your community safer by reminding corporations and businesses to follow simple safety rules and not skimp on expenses that put the public safety at risk. By doing that we protect your family, including children and elderly people alike. We remind corporations that we are people and to not place "profits over safety." If it costs an extra $100 to plow and salt your parking lot after a snowstorm, our verdicts help make sure it gets done the next time.
If we can stop one accident from happening in the future, that keeps your community's local healthcare costs down, which results in a benefit to everyone for lower premiums of health insurance in your community, too.
Additionally, if not for lawyers and their lawsuits, horrible situations would continue. It was lawsuits that began the fight against child labor and slavery in this country. It was lawsuits that helped bring about civil rights and the battles against discrimination against people based upon gender, race, religion and sexuality. You hate lawyers, but we are agents of change. It's not a black-and-white situation. But, you label us instead of trying to understand us because it's easier to be lazy than to actually think."
And I waited for the response. It came a few minutes later.
"You suck. Great way to change the subject. None of that is directly helping me. That's what I would expect from a lawyer. You aren't doing anything to help keep my community safer. You are just lining your pockets..."
Being a lawyer and older, I tried to look at what he was saying dispassionately and analytically. And then something happened.
I realized he was right. He had a valid point behind the typical anti-lawyer sentiment. He was arguing about the differences between "direct and indirect."
I could talk about change and indirect benefits to a community by my verdicts and litigation, but I wasn't doing anything directly or immediate. It's great to argue that lawyers make intellectual indirect contributions to a society -- and those actually do exist -- but I needed to get more involved.
So, we at Shaw Law Offices developed a program of making the communities in which we work better and safer...now.
We decided to donate a percentage (2.5%) of attorney fees (not the client's money) to a local, community-based charitable or 501(C)(3) non-profit organization of the client's choice after EVERY successful outcome.
We provide a list of organizations and charities that have "safety" as one of its stated objectives and we let the client decide where our money goes. We now try to make the community in which our clients live a little safer. Now. Not later.
We literally now put our money where our mouth is.
Does it really change anything? Who knows? It doesn't matter. It feels right.
All due to one negative Facebook comment. I guess an old dog really can learn a new trick once in awhile.
If he stops barking long enough to listen.