Thursday, July 03, 2008

Lawyers Marketing on the Web: Controversy

I've posted in the past about some dubious lawyer marketing. Most recently I posted about an upstate lawyer with a DWI business model for sale.

Another aspect of this kind of marketing is a variety of lawyer websites, along the lines of superfreakingawesomelawyers.com. Not a real website as far as I know, but you get the idea. Usually it's really a name like topiclawyers.com, or topic.com, where the word topic is replaced by the area of law -- personalinjury, or dwi, etc.

All of this web stuff irritates the old school lawyers somewhat. Even with me I'm sure some lawyers are not happy that one of my websites shows up more on searches than their own websites. With our firm at least, I think there's some respect for the fact that we really do the job once we get hired.

The thing that really bothers them is the lawyers out there who are scamming the public. I suspect our friend Smelly does not represent his clients as well as we do. He's more concerned about his business model. The big lesson in law is that if you do a good job for most of your clients then you'll do just fine. In the long run they'll call you with their next problem and they'll tell their friends about you too.

On the other hand, if you set out to make money, you will probably not be as focused as you should be on what's important -- doing a good job as a lawyer.

So this issue has flared up in controversy unrelated to me. There's a website out there -- dui1 dot com. I've been getting e-mails from this site soliciting me to advertise on it. The e-mails are not what I consider professional. So a lawyer named Will Worsham wrote a great post about it.

I also saw him complain about it here: Will Worsham and there's another guy: Ben Glass.

I got another e-mail in response to this controversy, and I'll just include the text below. Use your own judgment. I agree with the critics that this business-model mentality is disturbing. In the end I'm not sure it's that much different from the Yellow Pages or other advertising.

Turns out I'm listed on the site. I don't remember listing myself, but it is possible. The information is, of course, out of date. We'll have to fix that.

Anyway, the guy's e-mail response to the controversy follows (with my comments in italics):

There has been much hoopla in response to my comments on DUI Defense, in particular to my comment that DUI Defense is one of the most lucrative areas of criminal defense because most cases don't go to trial.

This doesn't make a lot of sense. Most cases don't go to trial in most areas of criminal defense. I make more money on trials, so I don't see why it would be more lucrative not to go to trial.

I have no intention of backing away from this assertion, and I do it for the benefit of my Premium Members and my members in general. My comments are directed only to criminal defense lawyers who I am wooing to become members of my site. I am not directing my remarks to the general public.

But they might see them. Why would you say something to one group and hide it from the general public, unless you are encouraging deception?

You see, DUI Defenders at dui1 dot com is the #1 result on Google due mostly to our size. We have over 300 standard members. We need to attract more and more standard members so we can remain the biggest website.

Why would I care about your goal of being the biggest website?

Many members of NCDD resent this comment. They are threatened because a newcomer to the game has a dominating presence on the web. They have paid their way to the top and we are doing it for free. They are intent on destroying our website to no avail. We have even been contacted by Google about complaints they've filed.

I've met a number of members of NCDD. They are generally dedicated DWI defense lawyers who are outstanding. Smelly may be an exception. I'm not a member, and probably won't become one as my practice is more varied (you're supposed to do more than 50% DWI defense, and I do a substantial amount of personal injury cases and other criminal defense).

We are now switching gears. We plan to run TV ads on six major US holidays. We plan to make 800-KICK-DUI a household name so people will recommend it to those who have been arrested for DUI.

So?

I am creating a new brand of DUI defense lawyers. There is the NCDD defense lawyer and then there is DUI Defenders defense lawyer. All I am trying to do is bring business to the latter.

Yeah, but one brand means something. Your brand means nothing.

The bottom line is this: the NCDD members who oppose me the most are those who have dominated the web and now face a challenge because people like you with a few hundred dollars a year can be part of a website that is #1 on Google.

I think they complain about you because you're more concerned with making money than you are with providing quality legal services.

What these guys fail to appreciate is that I have extraordinarily capable employees working on this site. The technology we employ to program this site is used by only one other company in the US: Google. Our main aggressor owns a competing website and though it is believed that he has sold his site, he still pimps for the buyer.

Sounds like a bunch of petty nonsense. And again, so what?

I hope you can support my efforts to grow the site, and the businesses of all our members.

Any lawyer who depends on this site (or any other site controlled by others) for his business is in a very vulnerable place. Don't support their efforts. Diversify yourself and build your own site (or sites).

David Sheehan, ESQ

No idea who this is, or why he puts Esq in ALLCAPS. Should be Esq.
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