Please Do Not Confuse Your Google Search With My Law Degree

Law Degree

I recently posted the picture of this mug with its unforgettable sentiment on our Facebook Page. It got the most views and shares of anything I have ever posted (more than 42,000 as of this date) and it was organic views. This speaks volumes about what lawyers are feeling when it comes to those (potential) clients who come in to their office who have done some preliminary research on their own legal matter and then challenge the value of paying a lawyer for her knowledge.

This is like watching a few sky diving videos in preparation for your first sky dive and then challenging the sky diving instructor as to whether or not you really need to pay him for his expertise just as you are about to jump out of the plane. It’s ridiculous.

But there is something far more subtle going on here which can be crushing to your business.  If a potential client believes they can learn everything they need to learn about the law on Google, then you’re not doing your job.  You are not educating them as to your value, what you bring to the party that they can’t uncover through a Google search.  You are not explaining through your marketing, website, presentations, or in person consults ‘why’ they are paying you.  Yes, I know, this is one more challenge you have to take on when all you really want to do is the work!  Can’t anything be easy anymore?  (No, this is the world you are now practicing in so this is the world you must educate to.)

If you haven’t figured it out already, the most consistently valuable and easiest marketing for any lawyer is educational marketing, marketing that is geared towards informing potential clients about their legal matter.  It may seem counterintuitive for you to share what you know ‘for free’ on your website, but it’s just the opposite.  The more knowledge you freely share (especially about information the average Googler can find on their own even though out of context) the more trustworthy you seem.  The more trustworthy you seem, the more a potential client will come back to you when they realize maybe they don’t have all the answers.

But educating remains your job at all times.  Let me share with you  a lawyer who does great educational videos.  He  is the godfather of educational legal videos, Gerry Oginski.  He’s knowledgeable, engaging, and doesn’t talk about himself. He talks about pain points that impact his potential clients.  He has become an educational resource. At the end of the day one of two things will happen, he will get a phone call from a potential client in his jurisdiction who wants to hire him, or he will get a phone call from a potential client outside his jurisdiction whom he then can refer (for a potential referral fee if allowed) and someone who will remember him when they meet someone who IS in his jurisdiction.  He can’t lose.

Another great example of educational marketing is Daniel Schwartz who writes the Connecticut Employment Law Blog.  He has been writing this blog for longer than I can remember.  His blog posts are information rich.  And whenever I think employment law, his name is the one I think of.  But I don’t use his content to convince myself that after reading a few blog posts I know everything there is to know about an employment law matter and can now do it myself.  I read the content and realize the matter can be so complex that I dare not try to figure it out on my own and I should be calling him!

These are just two examples of highly experienced lawyers who realize the more they share their knowledge the more likely it will convince their potential clients that a google search is no match for their law degree and courtroom battle scars.  And this is what you must do, too. Educate, educate, educate.

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5 comments on “Please Do Not Confuse Your Google Search With My Law Degree

  • From my vantage point, the Internet (not just Google) has extended to everyone a trend which has been going on for decades–clients are getting smarter about what lawyers do. In fact, I’d rather work with a client that makes an effort to understand what I’m doing on its behalf and why than one who leaves everything to the lawyer, putting the relationship at risk when the unanticipated happens. Respecting your client’s intelligence has always been part of our business. The ease with which they can now learn about what we’re doing as lawyers makes this even more important.

    • You bring up a good point. I would like them, however, to be educated by me through my educational content, though. And if they want to learn more, I’d want them to learn from the materials I can provide easily online and in person. I would want my name to be the one that keeps popping up when questions need to be asked. Agreed?

  • Placing value upon your access and experience is equally important. Too many attorneys who do ‘hard hours’ are using the free consultation to promote themselves for the hook at the end. This means that they are biased and will not take the time to ask all the questions needed to properly advise the client.

    If you charge a reasonable fee for the first appointment, then you can always offer to subtract that fee should the client need further assistance and counseling. I see so many clients who are sucked into the vortex of poor lawyering simply because the firms infrastructure demands it.

    The weight of overhead should not dictate how thorough we counsel. We need to charge, advise and be prepared to let the client move on, especially in inconsistent and poorly enforced areas, such as civil immigration law.

    Our Congress lacks the will to fund enforce and has so restricted lawful immigration that all we can do, at times, is file for a benefit that makes little sense to pursue unless the client is prepared for the consequences.

    It is often more rewarding to give fair warning with the time that they pay for, then get frustrated over the time that they won’t pay for.

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