Author Archive: Colleen Nichols

How To Approach Clients To Schedule New Meetings After Coronavirus Restrictions

Cases might be on the rise, but coronavirus restrictions are being lifted all around the country. That means clients will want to see your face again. Social media can be the perfect way to approach clients new and old in order to schedule those first face-to-face meetings in a long time. But some will need assurances that your law firm is being careful — and that means you need to actually be careful.

How do you coronavirus-proof your legal offices?

First and foremost, everyone working in the office should be wearing a mask at all times. These won’t prevent you from getting sick, but they can greatly reduce the opportunity for you to get someone else sick if you’re already infected but don’t know it.

Second, anyone who can work from home should be asked to do so. Enclosed spaces with lots of people provide the perfect incubator for this virus, so you want to make sure there are fewer people in that space.

Third, place plastic shielding between desks and make sure that everyone has easy access to hand sanitizer. Make sure surfaces are cleaned several times throughout the day, and sanitize the entire office overnight.

Before clients come to the office, let them know that you have a “no shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service” policy. Sounds fair, right? You don’t want them getting you sick, either. Ask them to visit the hand sanitizer station before entering the building. Post signs about preventing the spread of germs, because many people will need that extra reminder to keep their hands away from their face.

Speaking of clients, make sure to only meet with those who absolutely require the face-to-face to conduct business. If electronic signatures and ten minutes on the phone are enough for some clients, then you don’t need to bring them into the office and expose everyone to greater risk. It’s not worth it.

How To Approach Social Media Campaigns During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Caution is the name of the game these days. The new coronavirus outbreak resulted in a gigantic worldwide question mark. This is something Americans have never experienced before. Because we’ve never experienced it before, we don’t know how anyone really feels about the pandemic that is infecting and killing more people each day than the day preceding it. This makes the building of social media campaigns especially difficult.

For example, you won’t want to alienate potential new clients — or ones who’ve been by your side for years — by saying or doing the wrong thing amidst this crisis. For some law firms, that means a few tips on how to get a client’s business through the outbreak with the least damage possible. For other law firms, it might mean silence.

The choice is really up to you — and your clients.

What do we advise during this outbreak? It can be a good time to approach potential new clients. The reason for this is simple: there will be a veritable tsunami of coronavirus-related litigation in the months and years to come. They will exist to fill the void of uncertainty left in our hearts and minds after this is over.

The world economy is teetering on the brink of collapse. Views on benefits, paid sick leave, rent, etc. are all changing seemingly in an instant. That means that this outbreak might represent the right time to give more than you take (when it comes to your employees).

Any social media campaign should make clients aware of potential pitfalls ahead, such as employees suing because they were forced to work while sick, a lack of sick leave when it was needed the most, wrongful termination, or an unsafe workplace. Legal entities should do their best to ensure potential clients have all the right information they need to run a smooth operation during one of the most chaotic eras in American history.

It doesn’t matter where you display this information. In fact, many of your advertisements — whether they appear on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn — should appear as public service announcements. “Advice” makes more sense than a sales pitch right now, and it will more likely net your business more new clients in the long-run anyway. 

Last but not least — if your own law firm can survive on a skeleton crew while most legal associates work from home or take time off, then it should. Remember, we’re all in this together. It’s our responsibility to mitigate as much of the damage from this outbreak as we can.

How To Use Social Media Effectively

We answer this question all the time — but not generally. We try to be more focused when discerning the many uses of social media, because law firms approaching our managers usually have a decent idea of what they might need or want. But even big firms or other businesses might be running under a few misconceptions about what is or isn’t possible using social media to communicate with customers and clients.

So we’ll start there.

Social media is all about communication. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are obviously the most popular tools for businesses to use. They often forget about other platforms like WordPress or other journal and blogging sites. How do we use these tools to communicate? We do it using information, often in the form of photos and video. These are the best ways to capture attention. Businesses can even use podcasts, which are taking off in a big way.

Social media can also be used as a way to showcase an opinion or testimony. A law firm’s website might provide cold, hard information and a handful of testimonies from happy clients, but social media is a better choice for businesses who would like to garner interest by relying on emotion over facts. You do that by selling stories and opinions instead of a product. 

Social media is also a great way to showcase or monitor a business’s brand. New businesses don’t always have an obvious path to success. Social media is a great way to try out new tactics. Not sure what kind of message you want your law firm to send? Try building a number of platforms on different social media websites and see which one works the best. When you have a good idea of where you want to go, you can nix the ones that didn’t work out and pivot toward the one that did.

Social media can help lawyers build relationships in non-traditional ways. It’s not always about the law firm, but the people who work in it. How do they interact with potential clients? Use social media to entertain the demographics of people whose business you would like the most. Did one of your associate’s adopt a puppy? It might seem silly, but…everyone loves puppies. Post an adorable video of the associate bringing that puppy home to his or her kids, and you’ve put your law firm in a more human light by relying on emotion. 

Social media is also a great place to advertise. You don’t always have to do this directly on your business’s page. Use the landing page to interact with the clients you already have. Use paid advertisements to bring new clients to that landing page!

Law Firms Are About To Absorb A Whole New Demographic

Have you heard about the efforts of SpaceX, Google, and Facebook to bring Internet to those regions of the world that haven’t yet gone online? SpaceX has made the biggest splash to date, having already begun launching dozens of satellites to make the dream a reality. But fewer people have actually begun to analyze the lasting consequences of this massive effort. Half the world is still offline. What happens when the people who live in those dark areas suddenly have access to the Internet?

Well, a lot of things are poised to happen all at once.

Africa is perhaps the darkest region of all, but many companies are investing significant resources into the continent’s future. Billions live there. Those people don’t always have access to high technology like we do here. That’s why they aren’t always educated. They soon will be. When that happens, new companies will open their doors in Africa, and the economy could see a lot of growth depending on how resources are allocated.

Companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, which obtain most of their revenue online, will see an immediate and enormous boon to their businesses.

For law firms who use social media, millions of new clients will appear all at once.

But there are still obstacles to these goals. For example, dictators who rule in Africa often limit Internet access as soon as it develops. You can expect to see regional conflicts in Africa increase exponentially in the years ahead. It would hardly be surprising if bigger world powers in Europe of the United States of America begin to insert themselves into those conflicts in an effort to drive business ventures. Money buys politicians, and politicians go to war on behalf of the people who got them elected.

Countries like Chad, the DR of Congo, Gabon, Sudan, and Zimbabwe all shutdown Internet connections. New tech will face more obstacles in the next few years in trying to circumvent the lack of connectivity, while citizens of these countries will have to wait just a little longer to get on social media, where they can meet business leaders all over the world and change their lives in the process.

The speed of the Internet when it does get implemented is another obstacle. Most areas of Africa don’t even have 4G yet, which means it’ll be many years until they begin to make the advances that our own providers are making today with the implementation of 5G across much of the country.

Google and Facebook would like to lay high-capacity underwater fiber-optic cables around Africa, which might help somewhat. But only time will tell.

Are The Golden Years Of Social Media Behind Us?

Recently, a wave of lawsuits has swept over social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Many were aimed at the rampant dissemination of fake news in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, while others spawned from the growing problem of sexual harassment (sometimes controversially but conveniently squashed by nondisclosure agreements) in big tech companies. Luckily for the law firms that use social media to attract new clients, the lawsuits are mostly falling flat.

But is that a good thing in the long run? Are social media platforms gaining new users — or at least keeping old users interested? So far, it seems to be the case: Facebook reported a whopping 2.45 billion “active” monthly users, or those who logged in at least once during a thirty-day time period.

Trends, of course, describe changes over time by their very definition. Just because Facebook is keeping their users for now doesn’t mean they’ll hold on to them for much longer. And that’s an important thing to remember, since some of those lawsuits resulted from a spate of violence committed by terrorists.

Most of the lawsuits are somewhat absurd. AboveTheLaw described “one of the dumbest. The brain geniuses at Excolo Law convinced a client this would be a winning strategy: claim the shooting of some cops by a shooter in Dallas was Twitter’s fault because possibly the shooter though terrorist group Hamas was pretty cool.”

The lawsuit read: “Micah Johnson was radicalized by HAMAS’ use of social media. This was the stated goal of HAMAS. Johnson then carried out the deadly attacks in Dallas. Conducting terrorist acts in the United States via radicalized individuals is a stated goal of HAMAS.”

Naturally, the lawsuit — and 12 just like it — provided absolutely no material evidence to support the erroneous claim that the shooter was somehow linked to Hamas OR that Twitter somehow allowed Hamas feeds to influence users. Does Hamas have Twitter feeds?

Eric Goldman said that the court “expressly does not reach the Section 230 defense.”

The dismissal of that lawsuit read: “This case is the latest in a string of lawsuits that Plaintiffs’ lawyers have brought in an attempt to hold social media platforms responsible for tragic shootings and attacks across this country — by alleging that the platforms enabled international terrorist organizations to radicalize the attacks’ perpetrators.”

It concluded: “The Court dismisses this lawsuit with prejudice. Although the complaint here alleges additional facts not found in Pennie, the complaint nonetheless suffers from many of the same deficiencies discussed in Pennie. Plaintiffs here have not and after multiple attempts, clearly cannot connect Hamas to the Dallas shooting.”

The court essentially casually dismissed almost every aspect of that particular lawsuit. As mentioned, many others just like it have been dismissed as well. Now, we must wait and see how users react to these cases — and their expected outcomes.

Using Social Media To “Keep It Real” With Clients

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have been under renewed pressure to eliminate fake news or false advertisements from users’ feeds. This is a monumental task. But these social media woes are also relevant to legal entities looking to advertise or network using social media — because some of them are creating fake profiles or posting disinformation in order to obtain new clients or sway them away from competing firms.

And really, that’s just a bad idea.

Social media can be a great tool for law firms to use in order to disseminate factual information, but we always advise against made up “facts.” Clients want the truth. If they find out they’ve been lied to, then you’ll lose their support for good. That’s why you should steer away from dishonest behavior, such as posting irrelevant or nonfactual articles, or hiring companies that say they can give you fake followers, subscribers, etc. (which some firms will buy because they think it will give the business more credibility if people notice that others are paying attention).

Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was at the forefront of an investigation into the latter practices, which are largely considered immoral and unlawful by government entities. Devumi, LLC had been accused of selling these fake followers to those who wished to boost social media performance. A case against Devumi was recently settled by the FTC.

The settlement prohibits Devumi from selling “social media influence” or misrepresenting that influence on behalf of anyone else in the future. 

The reason why these practices are illegal is because they allow other individuals or companies facilitate acts of deception with regards to consumers. Devumi also allegedly “sold fake LinkedIn followers to marketing, advertising and public relations firms, among others, and fake YouTube subscribers to musicians who wanted to increase the popularity of their music.”

Devumi was one of a string of settlements decided by the FTC. These settlements should reduce the number of bots running rampant on social media platforms.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said, “Bots and other fake accounts have been running rampant on social media platforms, often stealing real people’s identities to carry out fraud. With this settlement, we are sending a clear message that anyone profiting off of deception and impersonation is breaking the law and will be held accountable.”

A Twitter spokesperson tweeted: “The tactics used by Devumi on our platform and others as described by today’s NYT article violate our policies and are unacceptable to us. We are working to stop them and any companies like them.”

How Will Future Law Firms Be Built And Managed?

Anyone with a growing law firm today most definitely understands the value of social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all essential tools for growing one’s client base over time. They can be used to hit targeted demographics faster and more effectively than any other tools we’ve had access to in the past. With technological advances arriving faster than ever, it’s left a lot of us wondering: what’s next?

It’s safe to say that the era of one-on-one attorney and client interaction is done and over with. The increasing benefits of automated software and artificial intelligence are helping more successful firms make more money while the less successful firms still manage to scrape by. 

The era of the legal secretary is certainly at an end because of these inventions. Consider for a moment what their tasks used to be: scheduling, billing, managing phone calls, forwarding mail, etc. But most of those tasks can be carried out by automated systems now.

When hiring individual attorneys now, law firms expect more. The associates are basically miniature law firms working for an umbrella corporation. They have their own clients, their own billing systems, their own markets, their own specialties, etc.

But the world is changing fast.

Take something simple, like an attorney’s note taking. Many still like to use legal pads, but the up and comers are mostly keeping a laptop on hand in order to keep track of information. Many automated software systems offer a level or organization that was unheard of a decade ago. Soon, these same systems will be able to use general artificial intelligence to gather and organize data sets on their own, and even review case notes so that lawyers don’t have to do it themselves.

There’s just one problem: lawyers hate change, and historically they’ve always been terribly slow in adopting it. Their clients are usually the ones who stand to lose the most from this sluggish pace of adaptation. 

There’s also politics to consider. For example, Elizabeth Warren has made it very clear to the American public that she wants to break up huge tech companies like Facebook and Google, companies that are certainly doing miraculous things, albeit in a somewhat uncouth “the end justifies the means” sort of way. We have to consider what happens if she gets her way and breaks up some of the big companies that other businesses rely on for advertising.

Then again, no one knows who will win the 2020 presidential election or how much power they might have. It’s one thing to say what you want to do, it’s another thing entirely to make it happen.

Should My Law Firm Use Social Media To Advertise?

If your law firm maintains business profiles on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram — then you might want to consider using them to advertise. Each of these platforms is relatively cheap. Heck, on Instagram you can actually make money depending on how much of a following you have. If it were only that easy for everyone! Whether or not your law firm should advertise probably depends on where you are in the process.

If you have a smaller law firm just starting out, then you may choose to hold off. Smaller law firms typically benefit more from advertising in places where people are actually searching for legal help. That means trying to ensure you’ve built an outstanding and informative website with easily digested advice and instructions. It also means trying to ensure your perfect website reaches as high in Google rankings as it possibly can, because you want more people to see it more often.

Smaller firms will also want to promote the networking skills of their staff. Word of mouth will increase the size of your firm more than anything else.

Bigger firms can move on to advertise in other places — like social media. It’s relatively cheap to do so, and easy. On top of that, you can choose exactly which demographics you would like to target with each ad campaign, making it easier for you to convert clicks to clients.

Before starting an ad campaign, decide on a set of goals. What are you hoping to achieve? Do you want to increase traffic to your website? Do you want more people to recognize your law firm’s brand or logo? Are you trying to better your reputation? This will all help determine how you define a target audience.

Before starting a social media ad campaign, you’ll want to ensure that you have content for potential clients to consume when they make it to your page. How will you compel clickers to consume the information you want them to consume? Videos and podcasts work wonders if you find the right person to present them. How you present the information also depends partly on your audience. If your demographic is senior citizens, then they’re not very likely to sit down to listen to the podcast!

Last but not least, after you’ve started an ad campaign you can track various metrics. If something isn’t working, you can often change it mid-campaign. But try to adjust each campaign to be a little bit better than the last one and you’ll have new clients rolling through your doors in no time at all.

Should You Make A Social Media Account For Your Growing Law Firm?

Finding ways to grow your new law firm can be stressful — but it can also be fun. Finding and hiring the most creative minds in your area is part of the struggle, but they can help you discover new methods of growing your client base and keeping it engaged. Then again, some strategies can help you keep your partners or employees engaged as well. Are social media accounts right for your law firm? It depends.

First, it’s important to know the difference between a social media account made primarily for your business — whether on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. — and those made for individuals. More law firms are jumping on the social media bandwagon than ever before, but some acknowledge that they may have done it too soon (or at least without properly researching both the benefits and the pitfalls). 

For bigger law firms, improper management of personal accounts can turn into a disaster.

One attorney recently shared his story about a construction company that was being sued. On his personal Facebook account he commented, “It’s pretty obvious this company is in some big trouble!”

From the outside looking in, that’s a fairly innocuous comment — unless your law firm is trying to take the case, which is exactly what happened in this situation. The construction company and the law firm were in talks, and in the course of its research, the construction company came across the post previously made by the lawyer. Needless to say, the law firm did not get the new client.

While this can be seen as an example of why law firms shouldn’t muddy the waters with social media, that’s not really what it is. Instead, it should be seen as an example of how to properly navigate those waters.

Law firms hoping to grow their client base or increase engagement through social media need to sit down with employees and train them on how to use both the company’s social media accounts and their own personal accounts. Individuals should be asked to keep their personal pages public so that potential clients might find them easily, but also to keep the majority of their personal posts private and friends-only. This will reduce the chances that a potential client will find a potentially disastrous post.

Law firms can also take steps to train employees how to post information and subjects that do more to benefit the firm than harm it. In 2019, thousands of people lose their jobs for making controversial statements on social media every day. It’s no joke.

It might be a difficult job to balance the social media high wire just right, but it’s a necessary job as well.