What We Can Learn about Online Reputation Protection from Herman Cain and Joe Paterno

Welcome to GAL Radio.  Today, we’re talking about reputation management in the internet space.  There’s a lot of stuff that goes on on the internet.  There are review sites such as Yelp and Google Places.  Your Google Places’ page has a place for people to post a review of your services.  For lawyers, there is AVVO and a host of other rating services.  One thing that has caught my attention the last couple of days is the reputation issues that are being faced by Herman Cain, who, as we all know, is facing any number of accusers on sexual harassment, and Joe Paterno over at Penn State, as a result of his alleged failure to do more when he became aware of an assistant coach’s alleged abuse of a child in the locker room.  All of this got me thinking about something that we do at our law firm every single day, which is online defamation/ internet defamation claims and defense on behalf of people who are looking at a Google search result that they don’t like, on the plaintiff’s side, or they have been accused of internet defamation in a defamation threat letter from an attorney.

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In the Internet and Technology Age, Isn’t it Time for Lawyers to Stand Up?

Desk_5_200Don’t get me wrong.  I love technology.  And I adore the internet.  As a lawyer specializing in internet law and technology issues, it is hard for me to complain about anything related to technology.  Our law firm thrives on the growth and innovation that is occurring online. 

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When Selecting an Attorney, Does Geography Count Anymore?

I was recently interviewed by The Northern Express Magazine who did an article titled “Internet Law.”  One of the interesting quotes that found its way into the article is as follows:

“It used to be that clients felt secure having an attorney who lived down the block,” Schaefer says. “Now, they feel secure having an attorney who’s written an article about their problem, no matter where he or she is from... The reality is that clients want answers, not lawyer-speak or disclaimers. They want business solutions and to real advice about how to proceed.”

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Growing a Law Firm in Tough Economic Times

Lawyers and law firms are not exempt from the economic downturn.  When the economy is chugging along, companies regularly look to enhance their business model.  Clients have no problem hiring attorneys to do things which are important, but not critical.  While a trademark registration with the USPTO is important, the cost of a lawyer opinion letter on availability, legal fees for trademark registration and a filing fee to the USPTO can run about $1,600.  It is a discretionary spend.  Unless you get sued as a defendant in litigation, you typically have a choice as to whether or not to spend money on legal services. 

In order to overcome the economic disincentives to spending money on important legal items, which are not otherwise critical or mandatory, lawyers need to continue to differentiate their legal service offerings.   There are lots of ways to do this.  Innovative billing techniques, payment schedules, improved customer or client service, transparency or perhaps the most important item, is to make sure that you do not charge the client to learn about their problems.   Lawyers who charge for miscellaneous phone calls to or from their client are creating a huge disincentive for that client to contact the attorney. 

Internet Law Article by the Northern Express

I’m an internet lawyer by trade who loves to blog about innovative business models for law.  I was recently interviewed by the Northern Express on a variety of different issues ranging from the technical aspects of internet law, what it means to be an internet lawyer as well as how I ended up in Traverse City, Michigan founding the law firm called Traverse Legal, PLC

I’ve been blogging for over seven years about the law, use of technology by lawyers and alternative billing arrangements with clients.  This article is a great summary of how I got started and where I am today. You can read the article on "Internet Law" at the Northern Express.

Integrating Video into Small Business Marketing

Lawyers and law firms rarely put the attention necessary into their web site.  Web sites require work and technical knowledge.  Too many attorneys are intimidated by web marketing because it requires near constant attention. 

One new tool which would help any lawyer create an effective marketing video in less than five minutes is found at www.youtube.com/searchstories.  The creation tool can be found at Google Search Stories Video Creator.

We have integrated Search Stories into two of our marketing landing pages:

The YouTube videos for each marketing campaign within our niche of internet and web defamation are located below.  Note that they not only were created in less than five minutes, but are compelling.  The music and production which is “baked in” to the search story creator by YouTube creates a very strong “call to action.”

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From Big Law to Solo to Success: One Lawyer's Path to the Perfect Law Firm

In this three part interview, Internet Law Attorney Enrico Schaefer discusses his journey from success to living in his car to recreating the practice of law.  In this interview (note: there are three separate YouTube videos as you scroll down the transcript):

  1. How to create a startup law firm based on business principles which make sense.
  2. Following your passion rather than following the money.
  3. What it means to be an internet lawyer in a technology age.
  4. Common legal issues arising on the interent such as cybersquatting, trademark infringement and internet defamation. 
  5. You can live anywhere and practice law everywhere.
  6. The business and practice of law can be as brilliantly creative as any other type of business once you stop focusing on billing hours. 

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What does it mean to be a Solution Minded Attorney?

Every attorney sees themselves different.  In the litigation arena, there are those attorneys who simply fight to the death, contest every issue and whose fundamental purpose is to destroy everything in their path.  There are other lawyers who take a completely different approach.  They are solution minded.  Their goal is to protect their client’s rights and achieve their client’s goals in the most cost-effective way possible. 

It is really easy for “aggressive” lawyers to drive endless bills to their clients by engaging in “letter war” tactics and other heavy-handed strategies.  These lawyers don’t discriminate much between clients.  They simply fit everyone into the “aggressive lawyer” business model. 

More solution minded lawyers try to identify the client’s goals and then work towards solutions and compromises which meet those goals.  While it is sometimes necessary to aggressively assert a client’s right, that is not necessarily the default position. 

As a litigation attorney, I get to make choices each day about what type of approach works best for a particular client on a particular matter.  I always have to remind myself to step outside the classic threat letter, analyze threat letter response, reply to response to threat letter approach.  Sometimes, just picking up the phone is the right answer for everyone involved.