Eight Legal Marketing Opportunities You May Have Missed in 2018

eight legal marketing opportunities you may have missed in 2018

If anything, 2018 proved to be the year that we figured out no matter how much legal marketing content you think can handle, no one can keep up with the speed of information anymore. Going forward, discernment will be the skill to acquire for the overwhelmed legal marketer online. The idea of “Content is King” should maybe be replaced with “Curation is King.”

In this spirit, we want to focus on a few internal and external stories within the legal industry we noticed in 2018, and how they might relate to the marketing of your firm or career within the legal profession.

1. AI and automation tech should already be transforming the legal landscape, but…

Early in 2018, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation were poised to sweep through the legal industry like a wrecking ball. According to an article Mark Greene wrote in Attorney at Work, which oddly began by heralding 2017 as the year of AI in law, there were five steps law firms could take in order to “future-proof” their firms for the coming AI transformation of 2018.

Along with seeking opportunities for automation within their law firms and becoming “an AI expert,” the advice at the beginning of the year on a clear path forward for lawyers and legal tech was cloudy. At the end of the year, the fog still remains.

New Law companies like Radiant Law and ConRad are revolutionizing the way commercial contracts are processed the world over, but they still brush up against the reality of implementation and engagement of tech solutions within a “working-already-at-capacity” law firm. This quote from a recent meet-up says it all….

law firm marketing

How is this a marketing opportunity?

The truth is, legal tech adoption is happening, but law firms and regulatory structures are slow to adapt. The enterprising lawyer who can understand the processes of her law firm at a comprehensive enough level to implement tech solutions in a way that solves existing problems while focusing on business goals, is a lawyer who has outpaced her competition by miles. Everyone else is stuck in tech-traffic.

However, bar associations are starting to catch up with mandatory continuing legal education (CLE) credits for legal tech.

2. 34 state bars enact Technology CLE requirements for lawyers

State bars are beginning to understand that technology is enabling a rapid transformation of legal services Without an updated knowledge base to pull from, lawyers will be left out in the cold.

As reported in this ABA Journal piece in May, “The change sends an important message: that lawyers need to understand how technology is affecting the delivery of legal services.”

Model Rule 1.1 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, now reads that “to maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology.”

How is this a marketing opportunity?

Lawyers who are looking for a differentiation point or a unique value proposition for their firm in a crowded marketplace can maybe look closer to home for marketing inspiration.

If you’ve made any small improvement in your firm with tech, your case review process, the way you process demands, an enhancement to the attorney-client communication network, market this internally and externally at your firm. This will help your staff and potential clients understand what makes your law firm special.

3. Traditional TV lawyers are pivoting to video advertising on YouTube

Media consumption habits continue to change and evolve, particularly around video, so digital advertising practices have to adapt. There is a massive shift toward video consumption on YouTube. By taking advantage of the latest digital advertising tools within the Google Network, as well as granular audience creation and targeting, we are able to capture attention and convert viewers. This allows us to reach a mass-media-sized audience for a fraction of a mass-media price.

U.S. Adults Now Spend More Time Watching Video Than Sleeping.

legal marketing Consultwebs

How is this a marketing opportunity?

Our LAWsome podcast talked with Digital Advertising Advisor Matt Smyers about how it seems that video content – particularly digital video content – is expanding, and how “the future is now” in video advertising for law firms. Here’s a transcript:

“… our habits have changed – we were just talking about this the other day. Taking a look in my own personal television viewing habits, as an example. I rarely watch live television anymore, as I think is true of a lot of people, unless it’s a must-see live event. And even then, usually, for me, it’s a sporting event. Even then, I’m probably recording it and watching it later and flying through the commercials because I know I can watch a three-and-a-half-hour football game in an hour.

legal marketing and advertisingAnd if I am watching a live event, I find myself multi-screening now. The event’s in front of me on the television and I have my phone and I’m checking email or I’m on social media or what have you. And those are just some little examples of how the habits are changing.

But I think what has created this sense of urgency around things like online video is that it’s no longer something we’re looking at 5, 10 years down the road because it’s started to impact, in our case, the decision-makers within law firms because they’re observing their own behaviors and saying, ‘Oh, yeah. I can see where, TV might be tough. And we need to start looking at this now,’ because they are personally spending more time on their mobile device and, you know, watching…using Netflix and watching videos on YouTube. And I think it’s now starting to sink in with our client base (lawyers) that, ‘You know, this is now and we need to get out in front this.’

Learn more about video advertising for lawyers on our Consultwebs blog.

4. Law firms are closer to creating their own apps for their law firms

It takes time and money to develop an app for iPhone or Android devices, although the idea is that the final product will either save you time or make you money – or both – either through the direct experience the users have with the app or by the information you collect from it.

Is this something law firms should have? Does the typical one-and-done client really need a dedicated app on their phone – a phone they could just as easily use to contact the office and speak with someone directly? Or is THAT an inconvenience? Maybe legal consumers are getting so used to using apps for everything else that it’s weird and old-fashioned for them to have to call your office?

While the majority of legal consumers still prefer to discuss details for their cases in person (according to the latest Clio.com survey), the idea of having an app for doc review of messaging is no longer a novelty or “extra.” It’s become a useful way for law firms and clients to connect.

legal marketing content ConsultwebsWe had a chance to talk to Chris Smith, creator of YourFirmApp and talk about the pros, cons, past and future of law firm apps. He sees them as a valuable and time-saving resource for both the firm and the clients if you integrate them in to your processes:

“[I]f they leave your office and they see that there’s a mobile feature here that they can engage with you on and you’re enthusiastic about it, they’re going to view it as a part of your practice. And it’s a part of the experience that they’re going to get with your office as opposed to just kind of a second thought that you are trying to… you know, you’ve got an app.”

How is this a marketing opportunity?

Having a branded app on a client’s phone is good, but if they don’t use it, it’s bad. By using apps as part of their experience, and using the services and information they can store and exchange with clients to give them an excellent experience with your firm, you create good results that can be leveraged through word of mouth, social media or referrals. Check out the whole interview here to learn more about law firm apps:

https://www.thelawsomepodcast.com/podcast/ep-44-law-firm-apps-does-your-law-firm-need-an-app/

5. Legal advertising spending blew past $1 billion in 2018

Marketing for a law firm is a costly affair. According to a recent article by Victor Li in ABA Journal, spending on advertising within the legal industry exceeded $1 billion in 2018.

legal marketing

How is this a marketing opportunity?

Traditional, mass-media advertising channels are already expensive, and digital continues to be a substantial part of most law firm budgets. In the end, a strong focus on branding and client experience will increase the ROI on any marketing investment.

If there is a BILLION dollars flying around the legal marketing arena, that is proof that there will always be someone who can beat you at the bank. There will always be law firms with more money for search, better access, stronger drone footage, whatever.

But if you spend a tenth of your marketing budget on understanding and enhancing the client experience that is unique to your firm, and then build a brand message that’s consistent with that experience, you’ll discover your differentiation point. That will bring a heavier percentage home on your advertising ROI because your ads are data-driven and authentic.

And speaking of ROI…

6. Accountability is the new secret sauce for legal marketing

Whether it was the privacy scandals in social media, or the data breaches of companies far and wide, 2018 was a rocky year for trust and technology.

But this tug of war is not new to legal marketers. Lawyers who invest in advertising have to trust that their dollars are doing what is required to get the phone to ring.

Sometimes, digital advertising is a budgeting Bermuda Triangle.

In “The Secret Sauce for Legal Marketing,” Vice President of Business Development Tanner Jones took to the blog and addressed the central problem facing lawyers and their marketing budgets as they seek to grow their firm online:

“Spending a ton of money on digital marketing for your law firm with no transparency on allocation and no understanding of return or value.”

He goes on to explain why accountability needs to be central to law firm marketing strategy:

“If lawyers and legal marketers can connect their marketing activities to measurable results aimed at achieving concrete business goals, they can understand where their dollars are being used and can verify they’re getting the best return.

And so, for a legal marketing agency to deliver the best value and prove ROI, accountability needs to be at the core of their strategy.”

How is this a marketing opportunity?

Take a look at any persistent problem you’ve faced as a law firm owner or legal marketer, and you’ll find that accountability and follow-through are at the root of those issues.

What kind of systems are in place at the intake level in your firm? How could call tracking and lead scoring help qualify your advertising spend?

Are you connecting leads to cases? Are you cognizant of your sales cycle and cash flow? Are you working towards a closed-loop marketing system that brings accountability to investments online?

Whether it’s with a Consultwebs legal marketing consultant using our new SMART Dashboard, or with your own team in-house, law firms that are serious about making an impact on their bottom lines need to place accountability and “closing-the-loop” at the top of their marketing priorities heading into 2019.

7. Chatbots close the gap for intakes in law firms, create warm transfers, and more

Are you tired of answering the same questions day in and day out? What if there was a way to give clients the basic info they needed without taking up more staff and more time? What if you could get the basics of intake done without having to spend time on the phone, so when you did get that prospective client on the phone, you could talk about the important details of their situation rather than chatting about name, address, and phone number?

In some cases, now law firms can.

Over the last couple of years, chatbots have become increasingly popular in the context of legal services:

[1] Chatbots are a form of technology that allows people to interact with software in the form of a conversation without requiring the user to have technological expertise.

[2] In the legal context, chatbots can, among other things, assist in obtaining legal information, filling out and filing forms, and performing client intake.

[3] The questions that this and other technological advancements raise are whether and how access to legal information and services through such platforms will affect the need for human lawyers in the future.

legal marketing chatbot ConsultwebsWe interviewed Washington State workers comp lawyer Patrick Palace on our LAWsome podcast about his chatbot “PatBot” that’s helping clients get answers and advice on next steps, all from an automated system.

How is this a marketing opportunity?

There are numerous ways a law firm could use a chatbot. Younger generations are preferring chats and texts, and chatbots are becoming very commonplace as a customer service option on many of the “big” company websites – Xfinity, Amazon, etc. It’s a fast, easy way to get the information you need in a format that is familiar and easy to handle. Great service is a killer marketing opportunity

If the benefits of a chatbot are intriguing but idea of developing, testing and deploying a one for your firm seems daunting, we got you covered. Keep your eye out in early 2019 for exciting news from Consultwebs about chatbots for law firms!

8. The Automation of Legal – Lola v. Skadden

The legal profession finds itself standing on a precipice, and to make a lasting change, lawyers might need a leap of faith. In this case, Lola v. Skadden, the courts, after an appeal, decided that document review that can be done by computers does not qualify as the “practice of law.”

“The parties themselves agreed at an oral argument that an individual who, in the course of reviewing discovery documents, undertakes tasks that could otherwise be performed entirely by a machine cannot be said to engage in the practice of law.”

While this may have given David Lola a short-term victory, it has longer-range ramifications to the legal industry that are still unraveling. Our in-depth write up of the case – as well as reference material and links to the original Yale Law Review article by Michael Simon and Al Lindsey – can be found on the Consultwebs blog.

How is this a marketing opportunity?

Firms should engage with their different practice groups and attorney levels, along with technical, operational, and administrative staff, in order to understand which tasks could be accomplished through automation.

Wrap-Up

In a much more discerning world, the law firms that will be successful will be the ones that can offer clients something they are not going to find at 10 other firms doing essentially the same thing. The strategy of simply keeping up with the pack misses the point that most of the pack is itself lagging.

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