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Law Firms Online:

Risks & Opportunities

Jennifer Ellis, Esq.

Lowenthal & Abrams, PC

&

Jennifer Ellis, JD jennifer@jlellis.net

Today

Brief discussion on elderly and social media

Analysis of online advertising

Tools

Techniques

Ethics

Social Media is for the Young?

Over 40 million Americans 65 and older use social media

74+ fastest growing demographic

Elderly and Social Media

Find new friends

Keep in touch with family

See grandchildren growing

Stat involved in others lives even if stuck home

Provides access to information

Scammers

Identify theft

Financial theft

Fraud

Malware

Concerns

Part of scamming

Fakers

See Te’o

Positives Greater than Negatives

Emotional support

Connect with physicians

Decreases isolation

Decreases depression

Attorneys and Social Media

What is the Difference between a

Cocktail Party and the Web?

What is the Difference between a Cocktail Party and the Web?

Reputation

Our reputations are all we have

Obligation to “Maintain the Integrity of the Profession” (8.x)

It is easy to say something foolish online and

have the statement go viral

Keep In Mind

Rules that apply off-line apply on-line

Amount of possible trouble is expanded by the reach of the Internet

Your Online Presence Is

Your Online Presence Is • A networking tool • An advertising medium • A research tool

A networking

tool

An advertising medium

A research tool

Your online

reputation

Potential Clients Must • Find you • See your expertise • Feel comfortable with you

Potential Clients Must

Find you

See your expertise

Feel comfortable with you

Ask Yourself • Who hires you? • How will they find you? • Where are

Ask Yourself

Who hires you?

How will they find you?

Where are they looking?

Why do they need you?

What do you have to offer?

Be Easy to Find • Website • Blog • Google+ • Facebook • LinkedIn •

Be Easy to Find

Website

Blog

Google+

Facebook

LinkedIn

Twitter

Numerous other sites

Most Popular Sites
Most Popular Sites
Most Popular Sites
Most Popular Sites

Most Popular Sites

Most Popular Sites
Most Popular Sites
Most Popular Sites
Most Popular Sites
ADS Blog Google+ Facebook Avvo Geo- Location LinkedIn Twitter Other YouTube
ADS
Blog
Google+
Facebook
Avvo
Geo-
Location
LinkedIn
Twitter
Other
YouTube
Blogs & Websites 1. Website – Center of online presence 1. Blog 1. Valuable SEO

Blogs & Websites

1. Website Center of online presence

1. Blog

1. Valuable SEO

2. Constantly changing content

2. SEO Search Engine Optimization

1.

Google

2.

Bing

3.

Yahoo

Website & Blog Software • WordPress – Free – Relatively easy – Purchase or free

Website & Blog Software

WordPress

Free

Relatively easy

Purchase or free themes

Built in (and improvable) SEO Features

Good Host Important

Host Gator

Blue Host

Blog • 1 in 4 people read blogs • Law firms increasing use of blogs

Blog

1 in 4 people read blogs

Law firms increasing use of blogs

Best way to show your

Voice

Knowledge

Most valuable SEO tool

Place for detailed content

You have control

Content • What questions do people ask at the consultation? – Answer • What is

Content

What questions do people ask at the consultation?

Answer

What is current in the news related to your

practice?

Explain

Relevant cases or laws?

Discuss

What interests you as a person?

Share

• Malware Prevention on WordPress Websites and Blogs • Resolve to Backup your Data •

Malware Prevention on WordPress Websites and Blogs

Resolve to Backup your Data

Following the T’eo Story And Other Internet Fakers

Ever thought about building your own computer?

Facebook jumps on the social search bandwagon

Update Java Right Now. Mac, Linux or PC, All Are Vulnerable

Pinterest creates business pages

Twitter sinks a personal injury case

• Why won’t a lawyer take my Philadelphia medical malpractice case? • Pennsylvania Fatal Truck

Why won’t a lawyer take my Philadelphia medical malpractice case?

Pennsylvania Fatal Truck Accidents on the Rise

Elder abuse is on the rise in Pennsylvania and across the country

I saw a car accident on my way home from work

tonight

Jury Awards Child $1.1 Million in a Harrisburg Brain

Injury Medical Negligence Case

Strokes and how iPads can help the victim through the process

Websites are Marketing • Follow advertising rules (7.2) • Include appropriate information – Geographic

Websites are Marketing

Follow advertising rules (7.2)

Include appropriate information

Geographic limitations

Limitation on seeking clients

Accurate fee language

No fee unless recover means no fee or expenses

Follow rules for all states in which licensed or seeking clients (8.5)

Honesty: Content, Link and Name • Don’t be misleading (7.1) • Solo – Not plural

Honesty:

Content, Link and Name

Don’t be misleading (7.1)

Solo Not plural (7.5)

i.e. ElderLawAttorney.com

Not ElderLawAttorneys.com

One office? Not offices of

Practice areas

Only list areas actually practice

Proper Use of Firm Name • Virginia attorney called himself & Associates – Had no

Proper Use of Firm Name

Virginia attorney called himself & Associates

Had no associates

Listed practice groups that did not exists

Listed non-attorney as attorney

Also engaged in other malfeasance which is

what brought his advertising to light

Suspended

Watch for PA Rules • Specialization – not an expert unless – Patent – Admiralty

Watch for PA Rules

Specialization not an expert unless

Patent

Admiralty

Other approved

No testimonials from famous people

Keep copies for 2 years

Screen shots

PDFs

Disclaimers Include • Not legal advice (informational only) • Does not form an attorney/client relationship

Disclaimers Include

Not legal advice (informational only)

Does not form an attorney/client relationship

Confidentiality concerns

Geographic limitations

Ethical Concerns for Blogs • Some states consider blogs marketing – Pennsylvania has not commented

Ethical Concerns

for Blogs

Some states consider blogs marketing

Pennsylvania has not commented yet

Assume it is marketing for your protection

Include a proper disclaimer (as with website)

Attorney/Client Relationship (5.5) • Be careful about answering questions in comments (or on other sites)

Attorney/Client

Relationship (5.5)

Be careful about answering questions in

comments (or on other sites)

Don’t want to inadvertently form attorney/client relationship

Suggest people call you instead of answering online when appropriate

Do not accidentally practice in states where not

licensed

• Virginia Examples of Blog Problems – Disciplinary Board asked attorney to put marketing disclaimer

Virginia

Examples of

Blog Problems

Disciplinary Board asked attorney to put

marketing disclaimer on blog

Attorney refused

Disciplinary board found against him

Case is on appeal

Recent Case • Attorney in Chicago claims Illinois has a corrupt probate system – Posted

Recent Case

Attorney in Chicago claims Illinois has a corrupt

probate system

Posted on blog, naming individuals

"sleazy world of probate"

"garden variety theft, embezzlement, malpractice and malfeasance by attorneys and the court.“

Ethics commission is concerned

“Blog publicly accessible”

“False [or] shows disregard for the truth”

Hearing Scheduled

Sharing Confidential Information & Insulting the Judge • Illinois Assistant Public Defender wrote on her

Sharing Confidential Information

& Insulting the Judge

Illinois Assistant Public Defender wrote on her

blog

People and cases described were “thinly veiled”

Called a judge “Judge Clueless”

Described a conversation in which a client informed her she was on drugs

Knew client had lied to the court

Lost her job of 19 years

Suspended in two states

Hard to Find Positive Information Now

Hard to Find Positive Information Now
Hard to Find Positive Information Now
Hard to Find Positive Information Now
Google+ • Integrated with Google search results • Helps with location based searching • Crucial

Google+

Integrated with Google search results

Helps with location based searching

Crucial for SEO

Google+ • Create personal profile • Create business profile • Claim Google Places

Google+

Create personal profile

Create business profile

Claim Google Places

Personal Google+ Profile

Personal Google+ Profile

Business Google+ Profile

Business Google+ Profile

Google Places

Google Places
Google Places
Google Places

Keep Track of Your Image

Google Alert

Keep Track of Your Image – Google Alert
Facebook & LinkedIn • Facebook – 1 billion • LinkedIn – business focused – 200

Facebook & LinkedIn

Facebook

1 billion

LinkedIn business focused

200 million

Network with

Potential clients

Other attorneys

Referral sources

Share information

Attract attention

with – Potential clients – Other attorneys – Referral sources • Share information • Attract attention

Facebook

Account

LinkedIn Account
LinkedIn Account
LinkedIn Account

LinkedIn

Account

Facebook & LinkedIn • Create a page for your firm • Becomes a mini-website on

Facebook & LinkedIn

Facebook & LinkedIn • Create a page for your firm • Becomes a mini-website on Facebook

Create a page for your firm

Becomes a mini-website on Facebook

Useful tool on LinkedIn

Connect employees to the pages

Encourage followers on both

Provide useful information

Share Blog Posts

Share Interesting information

Engage

Facebook -

Business

Facebook - Business

LinkedIn

Page

LinkedIn

Page

Purchasing Ads

Google AdWords

Facebook Ads and Promoted Posts

LinkedIn Ads

Other sites

• Pay per click • Demographics – Geographical area – Specific information provided by Google+

Pay per click

Demographics

Geographical area

Specific information provided by Google+

Age

Gender

Etc

Controlled by Keywords

• Uses cookies to follow users around the web • Often pictures on websites •

Uses cookies to follow users around the web

Often pictures on websites

Example

Search estate planning on Google

Read websites on estate planning

Several hours or days later read an online paper

Paper has ads for estate planning companies or

law firms

• Purchase ads on Facebook – Target by demographics • Age • Gender • Marital

Purchase ads on Facebook

Target by demographics

Age

Gender

Marital status

Target by interests

Pay per click

Link To

Facebook page

Website

• Link To – Facebook page – Website
• Link To – Facebook page – Website

Facebook

Promoted Posts

Write a post

Promote it

Costs varies from

$5 and up

Increases visibility of post,

encourages likes

and comments

4,858
4,858
• Purchase ads on LinkedIn – Target by • Job Title • Industry • Age

Purchase ads on LinkedIn

Target by

Job Title

Industry

Age

Location

• Should you friend clients on Facebook? – Depends on how you use your account

Should you friend clients on Facebook?

Depends on how you use your account

Very personal?

No

General?

Maybe

Let clients like your firm’s business page

instead

Judges Should be Careful Who They Friend • Florida: Not ok for Judges to friend

Judges Should be Careful

Who They Friend

Florida: Not ok for Judges to friend attorneys

Ohio: Ok for Judges to friend attorneys

Be aware of your state’s rules

Many Judges unwilling to friend attorneys who may ever appear before them

Probably the wisest course of action

Judges on Facebook • Judge friends with defendant, didn’t know – Real life friend with

Judges on Facebook

Judge friends with defendant, didn’t know

Real life friend with defendant’s father

A lot of negative publicity

Judge recused

Judge friends with defendant, didn’t know

Did not know in real life

Refused to recuse

Judges should be aware of who they friend

Judges on LinkedIn • Site is more professional, less personal in nature • No sharing

Judges on LinkedIn

Site is more professional, less personal in nature

No sharing of personal information

Ok to connect (in my opinion)

• 140 character micro blogging • 200 million users (76% don’t post) – A great

140 character micro blogging

200 million users (76% don’t post)

A great way to let people get to know you as a

person

Share quick bits of information

Re-share what other people post

Link your Facebook, LinkedIn accounts and Blog to Twitter as a way to get more value for your effort

People Like to Watch • 800 million unique users each month • 4 billion videos

People Like to Watch

800 million unique users each month

4 billion videos viewed each day

Use video to help people see you

Let’s people connect

Provides a different form of content

Excellent SEO

Share by embedding on other sites

Use SEO

Use SEO

Share Documents

Scribd

Slideshare

• Popular site among laypeople for finding attorneys – 5 million visitors per month –

Popular site among laypeople for finding attorneys

5 million visitors per month

95% of attorneys listed

150k attorneys have claimed profiles

Controversial among attorneys

Cannot unclaim your listing

Not always clear how ratings are established

• Claim your listing IF – No disciplinary action – Robust profile • You can

Claim your listing IF

No disciplinary action

Robust profile

You can increase your score by

Completing your profile

Getting attorney endorsements

Increase findability

Answer questions (ethically)

Gelocation • Where are you? • What are you doing? • Not great for clients

Gelocation

Where are you?

What are you doing?

Not great for clients

Confidentiality issues

Good for attorneys

Speaking on x at y

Networking

At PBA event for Estate and Elder Law Attorneys

Facebook

GoWalla

FourSquare

Examples

• Facebook • GoWalla • FourSquare Examples
Connect Everything • Provide links to all of your accounts and your Website everywhere you

Connect Everything

Provide links to all of your accounts and your Website everywhere you can

This will provide the maximum opportunity for

people to find and research you

Blog

Blog

Website

Google+

Twitter

Links

Facebook

Managing Time • Tools such as HootSuite help • Automatically connect sites when appropriate –

Managing Time

Tools such as HootSuite help

Automatically connect sites when appropriate

Connect Facebook to Twitter

Be careful about the reverse

Twitter has its own language and can be confusing when read off Twitter

HootSuite at Work

HootSuite at Work
HootSuite at Work
HootSuite at Work
HootSuite at Work

How to Behave

Be Aware That Professional Versus Personal

Conduct Doesn’t Matter on the Web

Prosecutor on a Personal Crusade

Against a Student

Wrote a blog to attack a student

“Welcome to ‘Chris Armstrong Watch’. This is a site for concerned University of Michigan alumni, students, and others who oppose the recent

election of Chris Armstrong a RADICAL

HOMOSEXUAL ACTIVIST, RACIST, ELITIST, & LIAR as the new head of student government.”

Claimed it was personal so irrelevant to his work

Refused to step down

Prosecutor Fired

His attorney, said his client

was merely expressing his

free-speech rights

In explaining the firing his

ex-employer stated “[he]

repeatedly violated office

policies, engaged in

borderline stalking behavior

and inappropriately used state resources”

repeatedly violated office policies, engaged in borderline stalking behavior and inappropriately used state resources”

Tweeting “Jokes”

Indiana AG Fired over Tweet

“use live ammunition”

Tweeting “Jokes” • Indiana AG Fired over Tweet – “use live ammunition”

Remember No One Can

See or Hear You

No body language or vocal inflection

Different senses of humor

What is a joke to one person is an insult or a

grievous threat to another.

Watch for the Streisand Effect

Barbara Streisand sued to have an image of her house removed from the Internet

Resulted in greater publicity and a lot of insults

Lesson learned?

Suing rarely works

If You (or a Client) Mess Up

Apologize (sincerely)

Lay low

Don’t argue

Don’t try to explain

General Business Concerns

Encourage firm’s attorneys to use social media

Encourage someone to keep track of all social media for the firm

Have clear policies on social media use

Employees

Make employees understand that they are not allowed to post on behalf of the firm unless it is part of their job

Make it clear that if someone violates client confidentiality he will be punished (up to and including termination of employment)

Prepare for Problems

Have a plan for responding to problems

Empower someone to respond in an emergency

Waiting is not an option

Know when not to respond (things are out of control and people are ganging up)

Know when to respond (an individual who is

upset)

Final Thoughts

Don’t be afraid of social media

It can be a powerful marketing tool

It can be a powerful research tool

Simply be sure to remember that many people will

see what you post

Obey the ethical rules

Thank You

Jennifer Ellis

Lowenthal & Abrams, PC

&

Jennifer Ellis, JD

jennifer@jlellis.net