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March 3, 2004

Is Legal Marketing [non]Spoofable?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:12 pm

A recent posting by Matt Homman  at the [non]billable hour got me thinking that it’s very difficult to distinguish a spoof on marketing from the real thing.  Applying techniques that evolved to sell beer, cars, toothpaste and snake oil to legal services seems — in my eyes — to turn almost all lawyer marketing into a parody of marketing.   Here are a few examples:


suave dude neg flip  The huhCorp marketing spoof site says 

  • the firm provides “distinct clients with groundbreaking business strategies to aggressively and creatively compete in a changing economy.”

  • “Our ideas will entice and excite you. Our professional solutions will give you the confidence to succeed.”

  • and, “Express your uniquely synergistic self!  Let the world know that you are an aggressively dynamic, solution providing e-person.”

Yesterday, in a real posting on lawyer-marketing, Matt Homann stated that a “Good question” for a law firm to ask itself is how it serves the needs of yoga-esque women “looking inward for balance, strength, and focus.”  Meanwhile, lawyer marketeer Airblogger explains

” the visual symbols of a firm’s brand – it’s name, logo, colors, style, look/feel, etc. – are becoming more rather than less important” and “Ultimately, the brand will instantly signal – within the confusion and chaos of the marketplace – a clear experience to potential clients.”

[Airblogger David seems to think this is a good thing for the legal profession and its clients.]

Elsewhere, in a post called Customer-centricity for Law Firms, Matt favorably quotes real marketer Chris Lawer:

Individual-centric customer innovating businesses understand this and aim to overcome these challenges. They focus on creating a more positive brand, marketing and customer context; one that reconfigures mostly intangible (and hitherto unrecognised) aspects of people’s needs and problems into new forms of social, relational and brand capital. These intangible value dimensions include new drivers such as time, attention, knowledge, uncertainty, trust, privacy, personal productivity and simplicity.

Then, Matt declares:  “Chris’ ideas dovetail with my thoughts on value billing that I’ve been trying to articulate in this weblog. By focusing on those “intangible value dimensions” important to my customers (trust, certainty, security), I am hoping to build a lasting legal relationship with them that isn’t tied to the time I spend working on their individual matters, but rather the value they get from me.”  

clown flip  Either quote would have done quite well on the Spoof Site, don’t you think? 

Snazzy Covers:  The spoof site has on strategy: When we deliver your new business strategies to you, they’ll be in really snazzy binders that look nice sitting on big, round meeting tables, so you’ll know you got your money’s worth.

In a serious article in Law Practice Magazine, while describing ways of “adding value to your service” (in order to justify a fee increase). Edward Poll actually states:

Sometimes, showing that you provide better-than-excellent service is all you need to justify a fee increase. For example, consider packaging final documents in an attractive folder and hand delivering them to the client. This improved presentation adds only pennies to your costs, but it will be perceived as an example of your caring for and nurturing the client.   [from LPM, April 2002, at 36)

And, the latest Lawyer Marketing Alert from Trey Ryder (March 3, 2004, via ESQLawTech) is totally devoted to the wonders of using first-class letters because

First class letters from lawyers are effective for many reasons:

1. Since many people use e-mail for quick communication, when you take
time to write and mail a letter, you make a powerful, personal impression.

2. An envelope with a lawyer or law firm as its return address always
commands attention.

3. Upscale law firm stationery can and should reflect your confidence,
integrity and success.

Setting Expectations:  Matt Homann also recently focused on a  post from the Ripples weblog, by David St. Lawrence:

Hindsight is so humbling. It took me 45 years of professional life to arrive at the following conclusion: Setting expectations correctly is far more important than the actual work that you do.

stopwatch  What’s Matt’s marketing-type solution?  He says

I have heard of a consultant who has voicemail that says, “Leave a message and I’ll return your call in 90 minutes.” He always returns the call in sixty minutes or less — or has an assistant do it. He sets a client’s expectations and then exceeds them. If we lawyers were able to consistenly do the same thing, we wouldn’t be the butt of so many jokes.

Thankfully, David St. Lawrence left a Comment that sees a lawyer’s setting expectations as far more than a gimmick:

“Setting expectations as a lawyer is probably more important than in any other profession because you are taking responsibility for the person’s life when you take the case.  The expectation need not be that you are going to win the case. The client might feel satisfied if he had certainty that you were going to do everything possible to get him a fair deal.”

suave dude neg flip  Until convinced otherwise, skepticalEsq will approach legal marketing as if its purpose were primarily to manufacture the consent of the unwary to the purchase of unneeded extra services at extra-competitive prices.  The fact that there are clients who are susceptible to appeals to emotions, “intangibles” and marketing hype, does not make it okay for the lawyer-ficuciary to exploit those weaknesses.  Would  Atticus Finch and Clarence Darrow  be amused or outraged?


I’ve got quite a few more examples — coming soon.  First, a yogi-like nap.


tiny check  For related discussion, see Value Billing or Venal Bilking?,




  1. Thanks for the mention.

    I am very impressed with the appearance and the content of your blog.

    I will include it in a list I am making for a lawyer in Virginia who has decided to create one.
    He has almost decided to forego a static website in favor of a weblog.

    Comment by David St Lawrence — March 3, 2004 @ 7:37 pm

  2. Thanks for the mention.

    I am very impressed with the appearance and the content of your blog.

    I will include it in a list I am making for a lawyer in Virginia who has decided to create one.
    He has almost decided to forego a static website in favor of a weblog.

    Comment by David St Lawrence — March 3, 2004 @ 7:37 pm

  3. Does it hurt to execute around the basics of marketing?
    What does it take for a client to know you, like you, trust you, buy from you, send referrals to you, and buy from you again?

    Local Business Will Prevail.

    Comment by Local Online Marketing — March 4, 2008 @ 5:54 pm

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