John Cooper Gives Lecture on Modern Marketing for the Monster Case to Virginia Lawyers
Law firms and the way we get cases have changed radically in the age of the Internet. Recently, I co-taught about 40 members of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association at a retreat in Charlottesville.
The lecture was attended by attorneys from all over Virginia. It was about ethics and modern marketing and what accident attorneys can do to get cases. Other topics included the use of black box date in trucking cases and bad faith insurance company tactics.
In Modern Marketing for the Monster Case I wrote about how you can land the great green whale without losing your license or your leg.
The term ‘modern’ reflects the fact that the current legal marketing and ethics regimes now include referral fees and Internet blogging that were not on the horizon at the beginning of my practice 25 years ago. However, some of the best methods for case acquisition still are traditional tools updated for the electronic era law firm.
The use of the metaphor of a whale is not intended to objectify the clients but rather to recognize that the magnitude of the stakes in some cases have the potential to be life challenging for catastrophically injured people and their lawyers. In this sense, the largest cases are worthy of being treated with the same respect and awe that Captain Ahab had for his nemesis in Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick.
My lecture at the July 17-18 advanced auto retreat included advice on running a tight ship and the importance of following Rule 1.3 (a) of the Virginia State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct that requires a lawyer to “act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.”
I described how this will enhance your reputation among attorneys, clients and judges and will help you gain high ratings on services such as Martindale Hubbell, Avvo and gain the Super Lawyers recognition.
I also described the importance of your website. Your website is a communication line with the public dangling a lure to attract clients, but it also has the capacity to get you tangled up with the State Bar. The overreaching standard in Rule 7.1 (a) is not to make any false or misleading statements about an attorney’s services. Under this rule “a communication is false or misleading if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact when omission of such fact makes the statement materially false or misleading as a whole.”
When putting information up on the website, including any blogs, an attorney needs to be careful that whatever is said does not contain deceptive or incorrect information. Under Rule 7.1 (c) one particular attorney must be responsible for any advertising and this is often accomplished by having a written statement filed with the State Bar indicating one lawyer at the firm is responsible for all of the firm’s marketing.
If your name is on that form or on a blog, you need to be careful that you have reviewed all content for anything that could be deemed improper under the rule. Other than broadly forbidding dishonest statements, the ethics rules allow great latitude for commenting on current events and the law in a legal blog.