The marketing of cases, how you get cases, can be daunting and it can make the difference between a very successful law firm or a failed law firm. I am very fortunate that I got into marketing on the internet about 10 years ago, which in some respects was early. That has been a big benefit to my practice. I still do get referrals from other attorneys but many more cases come directly from the internet.
I have done, as I have said, exclusively personal injury. There are probably 50,000 lawyers in Massachusetts and, of that, probably about 10,000 purport to do personal injury law. How do you set yourself apart or distinguish yourself when there are 10,000 other people who might claim to do the same type of law? There are those who advertise on TV or on billboards with whom I compete. There are other ways some lawyers go about getting cases and it is troubling. Allow me to relate one such story: I went to an American Association of Justice convention in December of 2004. The AAJ is a 55,000 member organization, a reputable organization which was formerly known as The American Trial Lawyers Association. It was a high end level seminar, if the cost is any indication, and they had a very good New York trial attorney speak. He handled construction cases. As you would expect, construction cases often involve very serious injuries. [In fact, in the day before the lecture, I had seen a lead article in the local paper, The Philadelphia Enquirer, that there was a joint settlement of $200 million for 20 victims of a building collapse.] Anyway, this gentlemen who was a very good trial attorney, said from the podium, and I couldn’t believe it, “You know when I get these good cases, I take care of the union boss.” That kind of flagrant disregard and indifference to ethics is remarkable to me and, moreover, unscrupulous. But that is what you can face in terms of getting good cases, evidently. [There is pending litigation in the federal court in Massachusetts where two insurers have filed a complaint for fraud against numerous parties involving the unscrupulous acquiring and handling of personal injury cases.]
When marketing on the internet came about I was delighted because in some ways it allowed serious lawyers to separate their abilities from those of other lawyers. People nowadays are sophisticated enough to see who the charlatan is and who is the real thing. This has leveled the playing field in acquiring cases, at least to some extent.
Blogging is important part of establishing yourself as conversant in the law. It also sharpens your delivery to many audiences on these issues. The knowledge that I learned in this building [the law school building of UPENN] has helped me in doing my blogs. As far as I know, I am the only lawyer who does video blogging in Boston, at least on a regular basis. Almost every week or so I do a video and written blog on an area or an aspect of the law that interests me. I am not just saying this to resonate with you but many of the things I talk about, I learned here [at law school]. I either learned this in torts or I learned it in civil procedure, I certainly learned it in evidence, and even insurance law. It is amazing how useful those classes from more than three decades ago can be.
There is another issue which we need to discuss which is the management of a small firm. There is a tendency to be the chief, cook and bottle washer or whatever that expression is. Part of that stems from the desire to keep costs down. For the last couple of days I was wondering what advice can I impart to you. What mistakes did I make? I certainly have made mistakes, as anyone would. For example, I am not a cheap person, or so I am told, yet I probably erred too much in building slowly, and in part because of cost control. Therefore, I had to wear too many hats. Wearing too many hats meant that I couldn’t devote my time exclusively to the practice of law with so many responsibilities involving the operation of the office. Fortunately, I had great help from my partners, Ludwig and Marsha Alban. Still, with or without help, this is actually a common lament among many lawyers who are not in mega-sized firms. But one thing I will assure you: even in those long ago days, I didn’t neglect the study of the law.
The above is a brief excerpt of Robert Feinberg’s lecture to a law school class on firm management, given this spring semester at The University of Pennsylvania Law School.
The attorneys serve the entire state of Massachusetts in addition to affiliating with lawyers in other states to handle cases outside of Massachusetts.
Boston Attorneys Win Highest Injury Verdict in Massachusetts in 2011 & 2012.