Why Mobile is a Must for PI and Criminal Defense Attorneys

Last November, something momentous happened in the world of marketing and you may not have even noticed: mobile platforms surpassed desktop computers in terms of where consumers access online content.

According to digital research firm comScore, American consumers now spend 60% of their time online accessing content from mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets.  They are reading emails on mobile, accessing maps, social networking and checking websites.  And if you do not have a website that is optimized for mobile, then you are letting leads fall through your fingers.

Personal injury and criminal defense attorneys especially need to have mobile websites, since it is far more likely your services will be needed when a mobile device is the only convenient one at hand.  Research shows that 40% of mobile searches are local, and 81% of those searches lead to action -- a phone call or email to your firm.

If someone gets pulled over for a DUI or is in a car accident, it is highly likely they will be pulling out their phones to search for a local attorney.  If your website is not optimized for mobile -- making it difficult to navigate or even find a number to call --- you will have just missed a great opportunity to get a new client.

Converting your website to mobile can be done very affordably using online tools from providers like Mobify, MobiSiteGalore, Wirenode or Mofuse.  Hosting of your mobile website usually costs less than $20/month.

You may also want to consider using responsive web design, which instantly recognizes whether someone is trying to access your site via a desktop computer or mobile device and serves up the appropriate version.  Using responsive web design to integrate all your sites into one fully responsive website provides you with full functionality on any device, single site management and enhanced search engine optimization. 

In today’s hyper-competitive legal services marketplace, optimizing your website for mobile can provide you with a true competitive advantage as well as more qualified leads.  Without it, you are essentially turning prospects away.

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On-Demand Seminar: Business Development Strategies for Litigators

Business development is especially difficult for litigators, who often work for months on a case and bring it to a successful conclusion, only to find they have a gaping hole of billable time to fill!

Are you or your litigators building the referral network you need to bring in litigation business?

In this new on-demand seminar, nationally recognized business development expert Stephen Fairley and featured guest Larry Bodine, editor-in-chief of Lawyers.com, help you develop a practical plan to grow your litigation practice. Learn:

  • Which strategies you need to put into place in order to obtain repeat business from former clients
  • How to build a referral network to build your practice-even while you are prepping for a trial
  • How to get more referrals from mega-firms who are conflicted out of a case
  • How to identify small firm transactional lawyers who can send you litigation referrals
  • How to focus on the “hottest” areas of practice, as identified by market research
  • Methods our clients use to attract larger clients with bigger cases
  • How to ethically promote your “big wins” to the media and via the Internet
  • How to apply one of the most effective marketing techniques for litigators
  • How to position yourself as an industry expert that attracts highly profitable clients

 

To get this on-demand seminar, simply click here to access the recording of Business Development Strategies for Litigation Attorneys seminar.

5 Great Ideas That Answer the Question: What Do I Write on My Law Firm Blog?

Former practicing attorney Larry Bodine, the law blog guru at LarryBodine.com, knows firsthand the struggles many attorneys face when trying to consistently create great content for their blog posts.

LawMarketing.com Editor Cindy Greenway recently interviewed Larry, who provides five ideas that are a goldmine of inspiration for blog posts.  Here are his tips for ferreting out blog post subject matter:

I would add that client questions are another great source of inspiration for your posts.  Pass an email around the office and ask everyone to chip in at least three questions they get asked by clients.  Remember that they don’t necessarily have to be about a point of law.  Even the most mundane question -- like, “how much do you charge?” -- gives you an opportunity to provide insight into something like the price/value equation of hiring an attorney.

3.7 Million Americans Use Legal Self-Help Centers: ABA Report

The ABA’s Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services has released a report that finds 3.7 million Americans use legal self-help centers because they cannot afford to pay for an attorney:

The study gathered data from 222 of the nearly 500 legal self-help centers around the U.S., finding that most centers have less than five staff members and rely heavily on volunteer help provided by attorneys, paralegals, law students and others.  

Even with external help, most of the centers have had to turn people away because the volume of clients exceeded their ability to help.  Approximately 81% said they had to turn potential clients away because the legal matters were too complex or not handled by the center.

A substantial majority of centers -- 89% -- said their center focused on providing assistance with family law issues, including divorce, child support and domestic violence.  Other services provided included probate, guardianship, landlord/tenant disputes, general civil litigation, small claims and traffic.

Many of the centers provide referrals, with 66% saying they refer to lawyer referral services, 36% refer to pro bono attorneys, 28% refer to attorneys that provide unbundled services and 26% were other referrals to attorneys.

 A majority of the centers voiced support for limited scope representation, where an attorney provides limited assistance on the case while clients handle other aspects in order to reduce legal costs.  86% of the responding centers said that at least some of their clients would benefit from limited scope representation, while 21% said that most if not all of their clients would benefit.

However, most also believed that their center’s clients would not be able to afford limited scope representation if it was priced at the going rate in their communities.  

How to Perfect Your Ability to Persuade

Whether we realize it or not, we spend a lot of time negotiating our way through life.  As an attorney, your ability to influence and persuade is critical, not only to prevail for your clients but to attract clients in the first place.

My background in psychology makes me hypersensitive to the ways people make decisions.  I’ve been a student of human behavior for many decades, and once you understand the factors that motivate your target market to take action  (i.e., hire you), you will begin to increase your lead conversion rate.

The infographic below from Everreach details six factors that persuade people to take action.  They are taken from the teachings of Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.  Keep these in mind as you develop your legal marketing programs.

5 Steps to a Foolproof System for Managing and Converting Leads

Whether you paid for them or worked hard getting them, leads are useless without a system to nurture and convert them.  “I don’t have time” is no longer a valid excuse with the software that’s available today to practically turn this process into an automated one for you and your firm.

Here are 5 steps you can take right now to better manage and convert your leads:

1.  Only ask for crucial information.  Research shows that contact forms with only three fields convert 25% more leads than those with more fields.  You really only need a name and an email address these days.  People don’t want to give out more than that for a first contact, so don’t put stumbling blocks in your own way right off the bat.  Keep it really simple.

2.  Follow up fast.  I’ve said it over and over again, but it bears repeating:  NEVER make an attorney responsible for following up with a lead!  You can program auto responses that follow up for you immediately once you receive a new lead.  Studies show that after an hour passes with no response, the chances of doing business with that lead are reduced by 10x.

3.  Make it about them.  Be sure you ask the right questions and record the information you receive from the lead in a central place so whomever is tasked with another follow-up has the information they need to provide relevant feedback to that lead.  Nothing is more annoying to a prospect than having to explain themselves again and again.

4.  Focus on the next step.  Your goal should be to get that lead into your office or on a phone conference as quickly as you can after they initiate contact.  Make it your goal to follow up with next steps within one hour of their contacting you and you will see your conversion rates increase.

5.  Pay attention.  According to HubSpot, 50% of new leads are not ready to buy -- which means they need constant attention to move them along to a purchase.  Having a system in place that allows you to pre-program a series of emails to nurture prospects takes the task off your hands while still getting the job done.

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Practice Made Perfect for Small Firms and Solos

The Practice Made Perfect CD set and manual applies Stephen Fairley’s unique High Impact Marketing System to the practice-building challenges faced by solo practitioners and partners at small law firms.  

It includes dozens of specific marketing and sales recommendations that can be easily and quickly applied to your firm, including:

  • The only 7 sure-fire ways to get clients in your door NOW
  • Why advertising doesn’t work for most small law firms
  • The 7 reasons why people don’t buy from you           
  • How to market and sell with USP’s (Unique Selling Proposition)           
  • Using audio logos to attract immediate attention for your business
  • Using low-cost, high impact marketing strategies           
  • Strategies for achieving maximum results from all of your marketing efforts           
  • How to discover your Ideal Target Market
  • 3 critical factors to remember when looking for new clients
  • The NEW sales cycle for professional services
  • How to retain your best clients

Click here to order your Practice Made Perfect for Lawyers CD set and manual now. 

6 Simple Steps To Attract the Clients You Want (and Who Want to Keep You)

I know it’s difficult to turn business away, especially if your practice is struggling with cash flow, but you are never going to have that lifestyle law firm you want if you keep taking on the wrong types of clients.

Here are six simple steps that will help you attract the clients you want and keep them coming back to you:

1.  Pick profitable people.  Sounds simple, yes?  But you’d be amazed how many attorneys fail to keep the profit picture in mind when chasing new sources of revenue.  You do not want to be the guy or gal who signs everyone who calls.  Look at your most profitable clients and create a profile of your ideal client, then qualify your leads to see who fits. 

2.  Communicate clearly.  Nothing will send a profitable client packing faster than poor communications.  It’s a bad habit and one you can break, even if you’re a busy solo or small firm.  Put a communications process in place to fill in for the shortfalls you’ve created.  And for heaven’s sake, when you are communicating with clients, be sure to leave the legal jargon out of the conversation.  Stay on their comprehension level and you’ll alleviate the opportunities for miscommunication.

3.  Set some expectations.  Unmet expectations are another big reasons clients leave the fold.  From day one of your new relationship with a client, you need to be sure they have realistic expectations of the services you can provide and the outcome they can expect.

4.  Be really responsive.  The most successful firms I know have a process for returning calls and emails -- usually within an hour of receiving them.  If you’re going to be in court all day, have your email and phone messages monitored by someone in the office and task them with replying (but not with giving legal advice, unless they are also an attorney).  Even if it’s to say you are currently unavailable, this at least lets clients know you are aware they need you and will get back to them as soon as you can.  Then do it.

5.  Lend an ear.  Sometimes clients just want a sounding board.  You may have heard the problem a thousand times before, but it’s fresh to them -- and important.  Give the courtesy of being a good listener.  Clients want your empathy, not the bum’s rush.

6.  Maintain visibility.  Don’t just make an appearance when there’s money on the table.  Even if you have tasked associates with the work, make sure you maintain some visibility with the client throughout the duration of the case to create client loyalty.

If you’d like more strategies to create a 7-figure law firm, then I invite you to watch our new on-demand webinar, 7 Strategies for a 7-Figure Law Firm, where I provide insider tips from managing partners of multi-million dollar law firms and fill you in on what it really takes to build a 7-figure law firm.  

Why Good Website Design Matters

Good website design is based on a number of factors, many of which have to do with taking into account the human factor since you are, obviously, building a site to be viewed by humans.  And most humans:

  • Don’t want to wait for a page to load
  • React differently to different color schemes
  • Scan a website instead of read it in detail
  • Need to feel trust before doing business with someone they don’t already know

Scores of studies have been done on the design details that matter to human beings.  This infographic from Red Website Design aggregates some of that data and boils it down to five key areas of focus for implementing good website design that leads to good user experiences:

Social Surpassing Search for Driving Traffic to Your Website and Blog

So here’s something interesting:  social media is beginning to surpass online search as the top referrer to other websites:

This news was enough to make the New York Times take notice in a recent piece about BuzzFeed, which just scored a new $50 million investment (its valuation is now at $850 million).

Don’t know BuzzFeed?  It’s a news aggregation site for everything, everywhere.  You’ve probably seen it pop up on your Facebook feed since so many people share its sillier stuff, like quizzes that will tell you how good you are at spelling or which European city you are.  There’s also hard news written by BuzzFeed staff journalists.

BuzzFeed attracts 150 million viewers every month, on average.  Its content is what is driving its growth, and it plans to plow a lot more investment money into creating more content.  And not just content...viral content.  That’s stuff that’s likely to get shared.

And BuzzFeed works very hard to get its content shared on social media, to good effect.  The Shareholic data on the chart above is from its latest quarterly report on traffic referrals to the 350,000 websites in its network. 

Facebook is now responsible for 23.4% of social media traffic referrals to those sites.  Just one year ago, 40% of traffic came from search engines and 14% came from social media sites.  Today, search and social account for 29% of traffic each. 

So what does this mean for you?  A great opportunity to take a page from BuzzFeed’s strategy book and spread your content liberally on social media to drive traffic to your blog or website. 

Hat tip to Kevin O’Keefe.

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FREE REPORT: How Law Firms Use Blogging to Get More Leads, Increase Website Traffic & Become an Industry Thought Leader

One of the secret tools of Internet marketing for attorneys is the power of having a targeted blog. In 2013, inbound marketing firm Hubspot released a report based on a marketing benchmark study of 7,000 companies and found that when it comes to blogging:

Companies that blog 15+ times per month get five times more traffic than firms with no blog.

B2B companies that blog at least twice a month get 70% more leads from their websites than firms with no blog.

Companies that increase their blogging from 3-5 times per month to 5-8 times per month almost double their leads.

Here’s what you’ll discover when you read this report:

  • 7 ways that blogging can help your law practice
  • How to create your blog strategy
  • 10 ways to build an audience for your blog
  • 4 sources of information for writing blog posts
  • And much more!

Click now for your FREE REPORT: How Law Firms Use Blogging to Get More Leads, Increase Website Traffic & Become an Industry Thought Leader.

Top 5 Behaviors Likely to Generate a Bar Complaint

Douglas Chandler is an Atlanta attorney whose firm specializes in legal malpractice.  He has a most informative blog where he recently posted the five behaviors most likely to result in a bar complaint, based on his 15 years of experience defending attorneys against these complaints.

Here is his list with a few of my own comments woven in:

1.  Neglecting to return a client’s file.  If a client asks for their file, this can mean they have either decided to change counsel, not to pursue the matter or may want it because they believe they could have a claim against you.  You don’t want to delay returning their file, but you do want to review it before you return it and remove any personal notes.  You should also keep a copy for your own records.  When you send the file, include a letter noting that you are returning per their request and send it via a method that requires recipient signature.  End the relationship on a positive note if at all possible.

2.  Failure to communicate.  This is the #1 reason nationally for bar complaints.  Clients deserve and expect a prompt response to their questions, so you must have a process in place to respond appropriately.  Your being in court on another matter is not an excuse for poor communication!  Clients don’t care about anyone but themselves.  Be fully transparent, copying your client on all matters pertaining to their cases and, as Chandler advises, communicate early and often.

3.  Letting unqualified staff give legal advice.  Be sure your non-legal staff is fully trained on what they can and cannot do on your behalf and don’t allow anyone to sign your name to communication or documents that you have not seen. 

4.  Failing to observe conflicts of interest.  Before you discuss a new matter, be sure you do a conflict check within your firm before engaging in continuing representation.  If there is a slight conflict, be sure it is disclosed to all parties and have those parties sign the appropriate disclosures if applicable.

5.  Failing to communicate pricing policies.  Just like any other business, attorneys are allowed to raise their rates, but doing so without communicating that clearly to existing clients can be a big mistake.  Be sure each new client understands your pricing and billing procedures, including out-of-pocket costs that can add up quickly. 

Chandler urges all lawyers to use engagement letters with every client as well as disengagement letters when the relationship is terminated.   The nature of the work and the working relationship needs to be spelled out in order to avoid confusion over a potential implied relationship.

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On-Demand Seminar: How to Make Flat Fee Billing Work for Your Law Firm

Lee Rosen is one of America’s top divorce attorneys and practice management specialists who transformed his practice from relying on hourly billing to charging flat fee prices.

In Stephen Fairley’s one-hour interview with Lee, he explains in detail how he set out to fix his cash flow several years ago and in doing so he fundamentally changed his practice – for the better!

As a direct result of his “radical” decision to switch to flat fee billing (which many of his colleagues told him couldn’t be done), his revenues have never been higher, his profit margins are larger, and he’s building a lifestyle law firm!

Listen in as Lee and Stephen focus on hot topics like:

  • Why your clients will love flat fee billing
  • How to use flat fee pricing as a major differentiating factor
  • The inherent conflict of charging by the hour
  • Specific steps on how to position it with clients
  • Which practice areas can benefit from flat fee billing
  • Real world case study for consumer law attorneys
  • Practical considerations for litigation-based practices
  • How to improve your cash flow using flat fees
  • Best practices when implementing flat fee billing
  • 3 quick and easy ways to get started
  • Potential pitfalls to avoid when setting up your system

To access this exciting one-hour interview with Lee Rosen, click on this link:  How to Make Flat Fee Billing Work for Your Law Firm

7 Strategies for a 7-Figure Law Firm

If you’re like many of the attorneys I speak with every week, you’ve been practicing over 10 years, you own a small firm with a handful of staff, you work hard month after month, but you never seem to get ahead.

You’ve probably tried all the traditional methods of marketing your law firm, but so far nothing seems to work very well.

You have goals, dreams and ambitions, but after all these years, you’re still struggling to break or consistently break the million dollar mark…and every once in a while you wonder if it’s even possible.

From one business owner to another, I need to tell you that the skills that helped you build a good 6-figure practice are not the same skills you will need to build a great 7-figure business.

So if you’re tired of beating your head against the wall and you’re ready to take a fresh look at how to break out of the negative cycle you’re stuck in, then you really owe it to yourself to invest an hour of your time viewing our new on-demand webinar: 7 Strategies for a 7-Figure Law Firm.

Here are some of the things you will learn as you watch:

  • What it really takes to build a 7-figure law firm -- no hype and no B.S.
  • Insider tips from managing partners running multi-million dollar firms
  • How to position yourself as a recognized expert and attract higher quality clients
  • 3 biggest reasons why you’re not getting more referrals and how to overcome these hurdles
  • The 2 things every Million Dollar Law Firm has in place (you will never achieve 7-figure revenues without both of these)
  • 2 key metrics you must measure every month if you want to grow your law firm

If you think there’s no way you can ever break that 7-figure mark -- and break it every year -- I can cite you many examples of those who have gone before you who have done just that.  The only thing standing in your way is guidance and gumption.

Click on this link now to access the online webinar, 7 Strategies for a 7-Figure Law Firm.