Empowering Your Ambassador of First Impressions

Your AFI is the very first person to speak and greet everyone that calls your firm, everyone!

Your AFI is the very first person to speak and greet everyone that calls your firm, everyone!

By Harlan Schillinger.

Let’s start with, do you really know who your Ambassador of First Impressions really is?

Most lawyers don’t give the person who makes the firm’s biggest impression the biggest salary or even much recognition. Why? Well, usually that employee holds a position that’s considered lower ranking. But the opposite is actually true.

Your real “ambassador of first impressions” (AFI) Is your receptionist or may be a secretary, paralegal or executive assistant. By answering the phone, greeting prospective clients at the office and screening prospective clients, this person makes your firm’s powerful first impression.

These are critical responsibilities. In effect, your AFI represents almost everything about your firm. As such, the importance of this role should not be overlooked — or undercompensated.

Your AFI is the very first person to speak and greet everyone that calls your firm, everyone!

What happens when people call?

Depending on the size of your legal practice, staff or market, your firm could be spending thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, to get people to call with potential cases. But what happens then?

  • Do you know what kind of impression your key phone manager is making?
  • Is your AFI accountable for following a standard screening process?
  • Does this gatekeeper have the tools to do his or her job well?
  • What happens when you call your own law firm? Does the person answering the phone use a tone that makes you feel valued — or uncomfortable?
  • Is there any compassion?
  • Are you welcomed in a sincere way?
  • Did you feel recognized and important?
  • Did you feel wanted and invited?

If you’re unsure of the answers to these questions, this is a great place to start building the role of ambassador of first impressions at your law firm.

How to promote your ambassador of first impressions

When a new prospect or even an existing client calls your office, this interaction can completely set the tone of the next action. It’s that important.

So, start to view the AFI role for what it really is: the person you want on the firing line each and every day. This realization could raise some tough questions. For example, you might not have the right person in place; this might currently be a shared role that’s creating inconsistency and needs to become a singular position; you might need to move a more dynamic, engaging existing staff member into the AFI role to elevate its importance. You may have to simply hire the right person to represent you.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to defining this critical function in any law firm:

  • Identify who plays the AFI role/s right now.
  • Decide whether it’s the right person or whether you need a new intake personality.
  • Ask a few “undercover” callers to phone the office and share their impressions of that initial interaction.
  • Define the new expectations of this role.
  • Identify what tools could help your ambassador work smarter, faster and more autonomously.
  • Train this person in phone etiquette. There are many resources that can help with this.
  • Promote the importance of your ambassador of first impressions throughout the firm.
  • With the new responsibility, may come a higher salary. Give your AFI a promotion.
  • Monitor and adjust over time. You can record calls and listen in regularly to see how your ambassador is performing.
  • Recording your intake calls is so important. By doing so, you will know exactly what your situation is. If you follow the process, you will know more about your AFI and Your Intake and Conversion than anything else you can do.

Phone communication is priority No. 1

Most initial law firm communications continue to take place over the phone. Many prospective clients see advertising and call an 800 number for more information. That means your firm’s phone communication should be priority No. 1.

However, one of the biggest gaps in phone communication with victims in particular is having the natural empathy to be able to put yourself in that caller’s shoes. Often when people take the step to call a law firm they are already in a stressful, precarious situation. They may not be as friendly or focused as if you met them outside of this predicament.

Communicating with victims requires a calm and patient personality. The conversation cannot be robotic. Often the AFI is not setting that impression by how cheery he or she comes across, but rather how sympathetic he or she is when communicating with people in distress.

The legal profession is not exactly known for scoring off the charts in the empathy category. In fact, it really lacks empathy!

So, this alone could be the largest ask you make of your ambassador of first impressions. But remember, you can teach an employee the mechanics of phone communication, but you cannot teach personality. Hire personality.

More tools for making a great first impression

One way to narrow in on the impression you want your firm to make is by identifying a competitor that you know is already winning in this area. Or you could identify a company outside of legal space that you just like doing business with. Ask yourself why you do business with them?

  • What do you like about how you’re treated when you call this business?
  • What aspects do you appreciate most: tone, consistency or follow-up?
  • What steps can you start taking to match this level of empathy?

Lastly, if you are not already doing so, dial in your intake style by starting to record all the calls coming into your firm. You can use the most challenging ones to train your ambassador in dealing with difficult communication. After that, the rest will feel easy!

Your Ambassador of First Impressions has a big job representing your firm. Make sure this position is not only acknowledged but also promoted as one of the most appreciated and valued roles in your legal practice.

Harlan Schillinger has worked with more than 120 law firms in over 98 markets throughout North America. Currently, he is consulting privately only with lawyers who share his vision of increasing business, being accountable and obtaining high-value cases. He takes, perhaps, the most unique and accountable approach to Intake and conversion.

Currently, Harlan is working with and in charge of business development Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys. With offices nationally, Glen has one of the largest and most successful plaintiff’s practices in America. The firm already takes on well over 1,500 cases a month, and Harlan is positioning the firm for even more growth.

Why Building A Legal Brand Is Big Business: Is Your Firm A Brand Or A Name?

Some of the country’s most high-profile lawyers and firms now are household names. You could argue that attorney Glen Lerner’s legal brand is not unlike like Ellen or Oprah of the talk-show world.

But do you think those brands built themselves?

Making a name as an attorney does not happen by chance, overnight or without a huge effort. The “magic” is called branding. And the best businesses in the world rely on this active, intentional process to support everything they do and say. In everything they do and say!

What Does Branding in the Law Space Mean?

While you might know you are a great lawyer because you have extensive experience, a caseload that keeps you busy or lots of positive testimonials from former clients, you can’t count on everybody else to know that now — or ever.

Prospective clients won’t know how good you are, what you stand for or why you really matter in the legal marketplace unless you do. That’s what a solidly identified brand does for you in the long run: It sends a consistent message about what kind of lawyer you are and what kind of cases you want to attract. When you see or hear the brand, you know what they do instantly.

Unfortunately, attorneys overlook the importance of brand all the time. They often use excuses like “I’m too busy to think about branding or marketing,” “People already know my name,” or “Aren’t there Law Society regulations about how I can advertise myself?” Here’s the best one, “I already have a brand.”

All of these justifications are short-sighted. Why? Because one day the caseload might not be there. And do you really know the number of people who “know your name” outside of the exclusive legal community? Oh, and, branding isn’t really advertising anyway.

The Unmatched Benefits of Building a Brand

So how do you start to understand the value of building a brand for your law practice? Let’s look at the unparalleled benefits of really starting to make yourself or your firm a household name.

At its most essential level, a brand is the sum of what other people think about you. That sounds simplistic, but it’s really quite complex, especially if you want to be known for something deeper and longer lasting than the best 1-800 number in the state.

Whether you have an established practice or you are a new lawyer trying to compete in the flooded legal sector, remember that name or number recognition is just one element of a brand — a defining descriptor — not the sum of who you are and what you stand for.

A brand must be built, but when it starts paying off it does so in a way that will truly future-proof your legal career. Instead of hoping that clients will come to you solely from referrals or willing it so, you can use your brand to actively attract the kind of cases you really want to work on.

So start to identify your most unique skills, traits, values, and perspectives. These 3–5 essential brand attributes will establish a consistent pathway and platform for all your marketing messages. Maybe you are an expert in the competitive space of injury law, but have a uniquely empathetic way of connecting with clients. Or your research and interest in the area of worker’s compensation is your calling card. Or your firm has mastered personalizing the process of mass torts. Or you’re bilingual and know there is a whole realm of work in advocacy for the underserved.

Whatever you commit to, your brand should represent the values you hold true — a measured mix of where you came from and where you want to go, what you care about and what centers your existing practice. Having a brand with that kind of depth will almost certainly lead to more of everything — new business, new networking opportunities, new speaking engagements and new cases.

While you might not think you have the time or knowledge to establish your personal legal brand, or you think the gap is too wide to play in the same space as the top attorneys, dismiss that line of thinking right now.

Attorneys who take branding seriously and have the foresight to learn and market around what they truly stand for will set themselves up for longevity in an unpredictable industry.

Consider more than just marketing your name and a lawyer who does personal injury versus an entire brand. When you hear a brand, you are instantaneously attracted and know exactly what they do.

Harlan Schillinger is a Legal Marketing Expert in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

Harlan Schillinger has worked with more than 120 law firms in over 98 markets throughout North America. Currently, he is consulting privately only with lawyers who share his vision of increasing business, being accountable and obtaining high-value cases. He takes, perhaps, the most unique and accountable approach to Intake and conversion.

Currently, Harlan is working with and in charge of business development Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys. With offices nationally, Glen has one of the largest and most successful plaintiff’s practices in America. The firm already takes on well over 1,500 cases a month, and Harlan is positioning the firm for even more growth.

Are You Really Paying Attention to Your Business? Working in it or On it?

Harlan Schillinger is a Legal Marketing Expert in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

By Harlan Schillinger.

You might be working, but are you really working on what matters to the growth and positioning of your law firm? Probably not.

Most law practices, both large and small, around the country put way too much emphasis on reacting—to the phone calls and leads that come in the door—rather than building a forward-looking strategy for the future of the firm. After all, You have so much coming at you.

This is no way to become the innovative, thought-leading attorney you once envisioned for yourself. You must turn reactivity on its head—even when you’re making more money than you can count. Why? Because one day that random revenue stream might dry up before your eyes.

We see it all the time: Even when practices throw money at marketing, lawyers are far too quick to call vendors out when the advertising program, for example, fails. But that usually happens when attorneys don’t get vested in the future of the practice. Why? Because it takes time, research, relationships—and guts.

But the truth is this is low-hanging fruit. The best-positioned law firms in the country are taking action rather than making excuses. And the reality is every law firm can start marketing smarter right now.

Relationships are a requirement.

If you thought you could market without caring and involvement, sorry that game is up. When you invest in your people you are building relationships that pay off. But it’s not just about leading and rewarding your own staff—the people and paralegals who answer your phones, execute on marketing tactics and feed you leads. This also applies to your marketing vendors—the experts and firms who know digital marketing, TV advertising, and media placement. Believe us, they want you to be a partner in the process. They want your involvement. They want your communication. They want your partnership in a team effort.

When you hire someone—anyone—you can’t expect that person to do a good job just because you will it that way. You have to get involved in understanding their craft as much as they will rely on you to better understand the legal craft.

When was the last time you sat down with your employees and marketing agency to talk about intake? Do you understand how to work with your digital agency toward a common goal for moving the business forward? You can’t expect people to understand what you want and bank on stellar results unless you put the time into building relationships upfront and ongoing. Managing expectations is important. It’s just that simple.

Messaging matters more than you realize.

One of the biggest missed opportunities in legal marketing is messaging. Lawyers are often so focused on the end result—the calls come in the door—that they forget just whom they should be talking to and what those people really want to hear.

  • Are you separating yourself from your competitors?
  • What is the 2% difference between your firm and your competitor’s firms?

Nailing the right message to represent your practice, whether you’re communicating with audiences online or through a TV commercial, is critical. And, again, the success of this message is measured by your involvement in the process.

Only you know the history and nuances of your law practice. If you’re not willing to share these stories with your advertising team, there’s a good chance you will never reach the right target market. Or generate the public perception you want. Or attract the high-quality leads and cases your business needs to be sustainable.

Metrics count as an investment in the future.

By nature, attorneys like to count. They count clients, outcomes, cash, and accolades every day. But do they invest in understanding the marketing metrics that really count? Most likely not. In fact, ask yourself when was the last time you really looked at all of your matrix. Do you even have solid matrix tools in place to look at?

You might expect your marketing partners to keep track and alert you of how your website is performing, the number of clicks and likes your social media campaign gets, and how many people are calling the office after seeing a TV ad. But this is actually part of your work too if you are truly invested in your practice as a business and not just a job.

Learning the basics of Google Analytics, running and reviewing digital and advertising performance reports, and holding vendors accountable based on real-time data—these are the investments you must make to feel confident in future marketing decisions.

So, take more responsibility for your business. Don’t expect the people around you to read your mind. Communicate from the top down. Look for an opportunity and cash in on what you’ve been missing. It might require building some better relationships, making your messages matter and looking at the facts and figures. But you’re already pretty good at lots of those things. It’s just time to apply those tactics to your marketing.

The reality is, you have to pay attention, be accountable and have tools and software in place to track everything. Communicate this to your staff and to your Vendor Partners. You will get a much better result. After all, “What You Don’t Know, You Don’t Know”!
Harlan Schillinger is a Legal Marketing Expert in Paradise Valley, Arizona. He can be reached at HarlanSchillinger@gmail.com and 303-817-7313. He has four decades of experience in legal advertising with a passion for legal marketing, intake, and conversion.


Harlan Schillinger has worked with more than 120 law firms in over 98 markets throughout North America. Currently, he is consulting privately only with lawyers who share his vision of increasing business, being accountable and obtaining high-value cases. He takes, perhaps, the most unique and accountable approach to Intake and conversion.

Currently, Harlan is working with and in charge of business development Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys. With offices nationally, Glen has one of the largest and most successful plaintiff’s practices in America. The firm already takes on well over 1,500 cases a month, and Harlan is positioning the firm for even more growth.

The New Year Is Here! Is Your Marketing Strategy in Place?

Harlan Schillinger, Legal Marketing Expert

By Harlan Schillinger.

As a new year is dawning, your marketing plan is yawning. It’s old. It’s tired. What you did in terms of marketing just last year may no longer be relevant — or aggressive enough.

Spin that to the positive, however, and the start of 2018 can be a time of strategic reflection and renewal. Take the pause you had over the holidays and put that energy toward something great — a masterful marketing plan that will carry you though the whole year.

Keep in mind that your competitors may not even have a strategic plan. Over 90% of law firms don’t. Make that your competitive edge — and get busy. Your 2018 marketing plan should be a comprehensive document or blueprint that outlines all business advertising and marketing efforts for the coming year. It should describe tactics for accomplishing each specific marketing objective within a set time frame.

The world is changing rapidly, and the best-laid marketing plans for 2018 will be those that quickly measure the failures and successes of last year while seeing farther into the future. Your plan should include historical data, future predictions, current marketing position, a discussion of the target market, and a description of the methods or strategies to achieve your marketing objectives. While a marketing plan should have a formal structure to keep you accountable, it should also be held as an informal, flexible document with room for tweaking as needed.

You know what they say about the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. So, stop the insanity by looking at your marketing tactics with a whole new perspective. You must ask yourself, where you want to be this year, next year and in five years.

To build a solid plan that’s relevant by today’s standards, you also have to dig in to the really hard questions, especially in the categories of competition, intake, digital analytics and advertising.


Start by doing a competitive analysis — a deep dive into your market for 2018. If you haven’t looked at what the competition is really executing on in a long time or even since last year, seize the moment.

Your advertising agency can help you assess your toughest competition by evaluating the effectiveness of their chosen marketing and advertising avenues. What are other lawyers in your market doing with traditional advertising, social media, content marketing and more? Just as important, though, is finding out what they’re not doing. Then use your resources to capitalize on that weakness.

If your legal advertising agency hasn’t sat down with you to work on a strategic plan that includes competitive analysis, fire them. Building a vision on knowing who’s doing what in the marketplace should be at the forefront of your marketing efforts for 2018.


When was the last time you took a hard look at your office’s intake department? If you are honest with yourself and really investigate with curiosity what you can be doing better, you will do better. We can always achieve more when we’re willing to look at the hardest parts of our businesses (usually the ones we’re in denial about, like intake).

Start with some simple yet direct inquires:

Do I even have a formal intake procedure?

Start to put the tools in place to make your intake process more consistent, streamlined and accountable.

Do I really know what I’m missing out on when it comes to intake?

If you don’t have a way to track when, where and how your calls come in, you are most certainly missing out on intake.

Have I considered software to help me manage intake?

Research the best system on the market to make the intake process simpler for your office to manage, track and realize ROI. Ask around. Who’s using what? How is it working? What’s new to the market?

Do I know what my true ROI is from all my marketing efforts?

If you’re not accounting for intake costs in your marketing budget, you’re guessing about ROI. You have to understand what each lead costs before you can study your firm’s true ROI.


What’s your marketing plan to reach 75 million millennials? With younger audiences living on their screens, it had better include digital marketing. Do you know how millennials act and what you have to do digitally to reach them? That’s where you should start.

Make 2018 your year to get up to speed on all the rich data and analytics you can be tracking through your digital marketing efforts. Your advertising agency can take the lead and be your guide, but don’t forget to advocate for your own marketing plan this year.

Start diving into these questions to steer your digital efforts in the right direction:

  • How often have you even looked at analytics about who’s using your website or social channels or reading your emails and eBooks?
  • How can I start to read and understand my own free reports, such as Google Analytics?
  • What are the most important diagnostic reports really telling me?
  • Can I be leveraging new technology like Google Play Books to get my message out there?
  • Have I embraced social media? How can I jump in yet be strategic?


While legal advertising bucks many trends, it doesn’t change the fact that in general the state of advertising has changed in 2018. You can no longer rely solely on the sway of broadcast advertising. Your strategy must be integrated with other forms of marketing to reach more people and new audiences everywhere they are.

To get more informed, you can start to ask the hard questions of your own advertising buyers and vendors.

  • Do you really understand what your advertising agency is doing for you?
  • Have you studied what your agency did in 2017 in order to build an effective plan for 2018?
  • Have you set clear objectives and expectations for this year’s marketing plan?

If this feels like a lot of questions, there’s a reason for that. The only way forward in marketing your law firm in 2018 is to understand where you’ve been — and where you should be headed to remain relevant. Building a gutsy marketing plan starts with asking real, hard questions.

Harlan Schillinger is a Legal Marketing Expert in Paradise Valley, Arizona. He can be reached at HarlanSchillinger@gmail.com and 303-817-7313. He has four decades of experience in legal advertising with a passion for legal marketing, intake and conversion.

Harlan has worked with more than 120 law firms in over 98 markets throughout North America. Currently, he is consulting privately only with lawyers who share his vision of increasing business, being accountable and obtaining high-value cases. He takes, perhaps, the most unique and accountable approach to Intake and conversion.

Currently, Harlan is working with and in charge of business development Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys. With offices nationally, Glen has one of the largest and most successful plaintiff’s practices in America. The firm already takes on well over 1,400 cases a month, and Harlan is positioning the firm for even more growth.

Why Do Lawyers Push Back On Intake, Conversion, Metrics and Accountability?

Harlan Schillinger Legal Marketing Expert

Harlan Schillinger, Legal Marketing Expert

If you feel your business is in a place where you don’t need to increase it, please don’t read any further. After 40 years in the legal marketing business, I’m not about to mince words anymore.

Lawyers are spending a fortune on advertising, but very few have metrics in place to see what they’re missing. Often attorneys push back on intake, conversion, and metrics because they’re blinded by what’s coming at them – and can’t see what’s actually falling through the cracks.

You can throw more money at advertising, but unless you can increase your conversion rate, you’re operating in the dark. If you’re serious about boosting your cases and conversions, the first thing you need to do is start paying attention to what’s right in front of your nose and what you do not see. What you don’t know, you don’t know.

Legal Advertising is All About Accountability

While there are some exceptions, a majority of law offices don’t know enough about how their business actually works and how successful it actually is or isn’t.

Astoundingly, only about 350 of 3,000 major law firms that advertise in the U.S. are using a software system – rather than a filing cabinet (case management software) – to account for cases. Attorneys are still behind the times, and still buying their way out of marketing mistakes and bad decisions.

So why are lawyers so hesitant about being accountable for intake, conversion, and metrics? If you’re prosperous, why not be even more successful? If you’re motivated by money, why not look deeper to find out how to make even more profit – more efficiently – while still providing great service to injured victims?

The problem, as I’ve discovered over many years of interacting with major law firms, is that the legal breed is so good at arguing the case – pushing back- that it has lost the point of marketing and advertising altogether. Why would anyone fight against the very tactics that could create more value for their investment and help their business flourish financially?

That’s the conflict I want to resolve right here, right now. I would argue that law firms are actually being negligent when they’re too stubborn, afraid or behind the times to look at:

  • How their intake process is really working (typically the biggest hole in the law-firm bucket).
  • Whether or not paid leads are really converting to cases.
  • What metrics are saying about the health of the business.

Remember, what you don’t know, you don’t know. It’s not the time to argue. Now is an opportune  time to redefine your law firm with a few smart moves:

Ask More Questions

To be competitive, you as the owner of your law firm have to stop procrastinating and pushing back – and start paying attention to intake, conversion, and metrics. The best way to do that is to employ an approach that every great lawyer is already trained to do: Ask more questions.

  • What is my true conversion rate?
  • Where are my leads coming from?
  • What’s my true ROI on all my advertising?
  • What is coming to· the firm and where is it coming from?

Invest In Software Now!

If you don’t have a system in place to track all your metrics, you’re kidding yourself. There’s no way to gauge your firm’s level of success with a case management system. That’s just a file cabinet that you put things in and cannot get things out of. If you do, it is difficult. Reports? How is that working for you?

To keep up, lawyers must invest in intake and conversion tracking software. An automated dashboard will allow you to see exactly all the threads of business generation in one location. You won’t believe how this investment alone will pay off over time.

Learn How to Read Metrics

Once you have software in place to track everything that comes into your office, you must put someone in charge of drilling down on data. You need to know:

  • Where did this lead originate?
  • How much did this lead cost the firm?
  • Where can we do better in converting each lead to a case?

There’s no point in having a software platform if you don’t commit to using rich and important metrics to boost efficiency, productivity and profitability. Ask yourself, when was the last time, if anytime, you looked at and understood your Google Analytics? Start there!

Be Accountable and Open

If you’re willing to take the leap into 21st-century legal marketing (progressive firms are already thinking about the 22nd century), then you’ve got to be willing to be open to harsh realities and accountable for your actions. That means learning:

  • How good or bad you’re really doing?
  • How much you really spend and where you really spend it?
  • And, most importantly, what’s your return on investment?
  • Then put your new knowledge to work for your firm.

I promise, if you take a moment to stop pushing back and start being accountable for your advertising, profits will flow – right back to your pocket.

Oh, by the way, 95% of all lawyers that I have met over my 40 years in legal marketing tell me that they have it under control. They get 94% of everything they want. What does that mean? Are you telling me that your conversion rate is 94% of everything coming at you? Does it mean you get 94% of just the cases you want? I think what they are saying is, they get 94% conversion if they are sitting face to face with a new prospect. Maybe. I don’t think so.

Record every new call that comes into your office and you will clearly see what you do not see now.


Harlan Schillinger is a Legal Marketing Expert in Paridise Valley, Arizona. He can be reached at HarlanSchillinger@gmail.com and 303-817-7313. He has four decades of experience in legal advertising with a passion for legal marketing, intake and conversion.

Harlan has worked with more than 120 law firms in over 98 markets throughout North America. Currently, he is consulting privately only with lawyers who share his vision of increasing business, being accountable and obtaining high-value cases. He takes, perhaps, the most unique and accountable approach to Intake and conversion.

Currently, Harlan is working with and in charge of business development Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys. With offices nationally, Glen has one of the largest and most successful plaintiff’s practices in America. The firm already takes on well over 1,400 cases a month, and Harlan is positioning the firm for even more growth.

He recently retired from Network Affiliates of Lakewood, Colorado, the nation’s first and largest Legal advertising agency, where he was the leader of their attorney marketing efforts for 33 years. Prior to joining Network Affiliates in 1985, Harlan was Vice President and one of the founding partners of Madison, Muyskens & Jones advertising agency in Lakeville, Connecticut. Along with his partners, Harlan founded the first syndication TV production firm for retailers and Lawyers, creating television commercials that aired throughout the United States and Canada.

When asked about his approach to legal marketing and client relationships, Harlan says, “Creating opportunities and increasing market share for advertising law firms is my #1 priority. The value of the case is everything in such a crowded market.”
To that end, Harlan is committed to understanding each client’s business and discovering new opportunities for their growth.

Why You Can’t Afford to Sit on the Social Media Sidelines Any Longer

Harlan Schillinger is in charge of business development at Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys.

Harlan Schillinger is in charge of business development at Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys.

By Harlan Schillinger

If social media has the power to sway a presidential election, maybe it’s time you got in the game. In fact, you must get in the game now. Remember how long it took for you to get going with an internet presence and marketing strategy?

Most lawyers have sat on the sidelines of social media for far too long. Only early adopters, who started leveraging social mediums like Facebook and Twitter at the outset, are ahead of the game, having already spent years building their reputations and communities online. Just like early adopters of internet marketing.  

While marketing- and social-savvy law firms are certainly ahead, it’s not too late to catch up. That’s the beauty of social media—it’s open to all, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

So why is it worth it for attorneys to have a social media presence? Simple: As a lawyer you are already in the service industry. You work with people, for people, and therefore are intimately tied to clients and community by the nature of your profession.

Growing your tribe of followers

Social media just gives you one more way to nurture those legal marketing intangibles: connecting with community, growing your professional network, communicating your values, demonstrating thought leadership, educating others on the law, growing your tribe of followers and earning trust. It gives you a way to express honest credibility and reputation. It humanizes you!

You’ll notice that nowhere in that list did the phrase “making transactions” show up. That’s because the heart of social media will always be social—it’s about people, connections and community. Having a social-media presence should never be predicated on making money. Sure, that’s a benefit that certainly occurs, but it’s simply a side effect of marketing via social media.

One example of a lawyer who has figured this out is injury attorney Glen Lerner. Facebook is his favorite social medium. Watch the Glen Lerner Gives Back documentary video about feeding 1,360 families Thanksgiving dinner on Chicago’s South Side and you’ll get whole point of social media.

The story is told entirely from the viewpoint of the community outreach coordinator who took Lerner’s idea and ran with it. Lerner was simply the catalyst, but his heartfelt contribution continues to echo in the local community—and beyond.

Posts like these are never transactional; they’re personal. Social media strategy is not designed exclusively to get more clients or drive more traffic to the website—even though that happens—but rather to build credibility.

Social media feeds can work in many ways to build your reputation. A variety of different post styles can, for example:

  • share local history and stories,
  • connect to people and companies you admire,
  • inform about events or causes you care about and participate in,
  • showcase a new TV commercial or take a fresh spin on an existing advertising campaign,
  • convey critical news stories that relate to your practice,  
  • give helpful tips to your clients and followers, and
  • humanize you and make you more approachable.

When you already have so much skin in the game, there’s no reason to sit on the sidelines. Take social media for what it is—personal, not transactional. Then jump right in. Your social activity will make people think, act, laugh and, ultimately, remember you.

In today’s marketing world it is a necessary tool—and a must in your advertising and marketing strategies. Learn now how to grasp, use and facilitate social media. Just think about where you would be now if you took hold of your internet marketing 15 years ago. It’s always better to be out front rather than playing catch up. Don’t you agree?


Harlan Schillinger is in charge of business development at Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys. With offices nationally, Glen has one of the largest and most successful plaintiff’s practices in America. The firm already takes on well over a 1,000 cases a month, and Harlan is positioning the firm for even more growth.

Harlan attends many attorney meetings, conventions, and prominent roundtable forums throughout the country as a speaker and contributor, in order to help attorneys to stay on top of the legal marketing trends.

He actively participates on the National Trial Lawyers Association executive committee and is instrumental in the annual summit each year in South Beach, FL. Harlan is both a speaker and moderator.

9 Things You’re In The Dark About Marketing Your Law Firm

Harlan Schillinger, Marketing Strategist. He is based in Lakewood, CO.

Harlan Schillinger is a legal marketing strategist based in Phoenix, AZ.

By Harlan Schillinger

Some things you’re better off being in the dark about. Effective legal marketing strategy is not one of them. Ignorance is never bliss if your law practice cares about business relationships, reputation and rewards.

Unfortunately lawyers—yes, you—are notorious for thinking:

  • I’m a great attorney and I make great money.
  • I just want to make more and grow my practice.
  • I’ve already got it all figured out.

You may think you’re doing great, but guess what? You probably don’t even know what you’re missing. Here are 9 things lawyers overlook. By doing these alone you will thrive.

1| Front desk

That’s code for anyone or anything that answers the phone or handles intake at your legal office. This is your very crucial “Ambassadors of First Impressions”—the place where your paid advertising dollars come first, too. Never sell your front desk short.

The only way to know how you measure up on intake is to secret shop your firm or record your calls. Yes, picking up the phone and dialing your intake people to get a first-hand sense of tone, process and follow-up procedures is the best way to assess the effectiveness of your intake.

2| Intake system

Intake is a non-negotiable. However few law firms have the kind of formalized intake systems and software to adequately track, monitor and follow up on the leads they are generating. That’s a shame, given the cost you are most likely spending to obtain leads through tactics such as PPC campaigns or broadcast advertising.

You must have a seamless intake system so that when a new-client call comes in it’s handled in the most productive manner. You must understand what every new call is about. You must take intake seriously, because this process ultimately determines the experience your prospective clients have—and whether or not they do business with you.

3| Metrics, measurability and ROI

Just like bookkeeping or managing your bank account, metrics are a must if you want a return on investment. Most importantly, measuring helps you determine what is working and what is not. You cannot just guess. Law firms have to employ proper software to track each and every movement, from the first call to the close of the case.

You should know the cost of everything associated with your advertising:

  • Cost of call lead (even a bad one)
  • Cost of case
  • Cost (and productivity) of each attorney or staff member who touches a call, case or turn-down

4| Competitive analysis

Don’t get caught assuming you know what your competitors are doing because you think you saw their advertising spot. You have to dig deep, find out what they’re doing (and not doing) and study it.

Think of competitive advertising analysis like preparing for a trial. Don’t do business with a marketing agency or consultant that doesn’t dissect your competitors. This knowledge will help you exploit others’ weak points, market differently, and try an advertising avenue where your competitors are absent or outplay them in the existing market.

5| The 2% difference

If you can increase your bottom line by 2% without spending more advertising dollars, you have put a substantial amount of money (net) in your pocket. So what specifically is the 2% difference between you and your competitor?

How can you leverage your brand’s advantages or attributes to gain the edge? You must drill down to find out what makes you different, express it in your advertising and, most importantly, capitalize on it.

6| Reputation

Sure, you may know from friends, referrals and big case wins that you’re pretty good at what you do. But at times we’re all blinded by money, greed, egos and other external vices. Reputation is not what you think of you, but what the public really thinks of you.

Stop and ask yourself: Do you truly understand how people perceive your law firm? Do you know how the community at large identifies with the messages you are sending? Maybe it’s time to start thinking about whether you really have the right reputation—and how you can to shift marketing to get the one you want.

7| Reviews

Just like people turn to the internet (often on mobile devices) to check whether the food at a certain restaurant is good, they also look online to learn what other people have to say about your attorneys or what it’s like to work with your firm.

That’s why strong digital reviews are critical. Google and all other search engines now rank entities based on what people say about them. Having a process in place to obtain honest, authentic reviews is a requirement to obtain any kind of organic results on the web.

You can also proactively market around reviews, using the positive things people are saying about your law firm right now—through referrals from past clients, online reviews, social media chatter—to fuel and shape public perception.

8| No shows

Mrs. Jones didn’t come to the appointment you scheduled with her. If this is happening a lot, you have a problem. But do you have accountability and tracking in place to really understand your no-show rate? Do you know why that person never came by the office?

A lot of lawyers use the excuse that if a lead was booked but the person never showed up for an appointment, it wasn’t a case the firm wanted anyway. But is that really true? You paid for that lead. That’s lost income and a lost case. If your intake staff made the appointment and the client did not show, guess what? He or she went somewhere else—to your competitor.

9| Strategic plan

When business is good, lawyers don’t seem to care much about marketing strategy. You’re getting leads; you’re booking clients; you’re winning cases. But inevitably something will stop working. There will come a dry spell; you’ll start getting the wrong kinds of clients; and cases won’t convert the way they used to.

Remember, your practice is a business. And there isn’t a successful business in the world that doesn’t have a strategic plan. Think of it like a recipe in a kitchen. You can spice up your recipe with lots of extra ingredients, but if you don’t follow the basics your dinner will taste bad, and you will have wasted time and money.

The same goes for your law firm’s strategic plan. A specific road map will not only contain the details you need to follow to find success, but it will also keep your firm disciplined and on track.

Lawyers have to be proactive in their approach to modern marketing. Having strategic vision requires studying the competition (due diligence); looking at key performance indicators and the competition; drilling down on digital analytics; vetting your plan in writing; having the resources at hand to try something different when whatever was working isn’t working anymore; and always, always, executing under the auspice of intelligence.

You, and only you, are responsible for the messages you put out there—and the cases you take in.

Harlan Schillinger is a legal marketing strategist based in Phoenix, AZ. For more information please visit www.linkedin.com/in/harlanschillinger on LinkedIn and https://www.facebook.com/pg/HarlanSchillinger.Stratagist.3038177313/services on Facebook.

10 Ways To Compete In Today’s Legal Marketing Landscape

Harlan Schillinger

Harlan Schillinger has 38 years of experience in legal marketing.

© Harlan Schillinger.

Don’t let the 900-pound gorilla attorney scare you away. As a 38-year legal marketing veteran, I’m convinced that there’s no market in American that your law firm can’t go into and get good business from. But to get more—and better—cases, lawyers must step away from the every day and look at something as big as that monkey’s shadow: the law practice as a whole.

  • Do you have a brand and strategic plan for how marketing pieces fit together?
  • Do you really understand intake? Listen to a call from a potential client and you will quickly see how you could be doing it better.
  • Are you being accountable for your marketing actions by tracking, testing and tweaking?

Go long where the Gorilla falls short

Sometimes knowing where other lawyers consistently fall short can give you a huge advantage in the marketplace. Drawing on decades of developing relationships with lawyers at some of the largest firms in the country, I have found that law practices, small and large, fail at more than half of the best ways to stay competitive. If you can execute on all 10 (or close), I promise you will start to succeed in gaining new business.

1 | Start with a strategic plan. This may be the No. 1 downfall in marketing for lawyers. Law firms want to jump in right where they are and incite change going forward. But it rarely works that way. At some point all entrepreneurs must slow down, step back and look at how all parts of the machine churn together to create a more cohesive, universal plan for developing new business.

2 | Line up your resources. Don’t pretend you can do it alone. Pull a team together that’s made up of experts in each element of the strategic plan who will actually help you execute the plan, not just talk about it.

  • Who will oversee TV messaging and implementation?
  • Is there a plan for the intake department?
  • What about database updates, social media, software, etc.?

3 | Shop your competition. You can’t beat ‘em if you don’t know ‘em. And don’t just say you know your biggest competitor—really dig in. Secret shop top lawyers in your community or practice areas. Study, record and analyze all of their marketing efforts, or find someone to help you understand how to do it effectively.

4 | Exploit the gorilla’s weak points. In sports, you find your edge in the places where others are weak. When you shop the competition you will quickly find what they are not doing. Then do that!

  • If they’re bad at intake, refine your inbound call and follow-up strategies.
  • If their message is the same as everyone else’s, find a way to say it differently.
  • If their internet presence is poor, pump up your digital strategy now.

5 | Pinpoint your differentiators. One of the simplest ways to stand out among the competition is to uncover the clear difference between you and every one else—your true 1% variance. Go back to your brand. Have you ever discovered or documented your core brand attributes, the ones that will help you tell and leverage your message unlike any firm in the marketplace?

6| Understand your target client. Are you trying to have one message that appeals to all? Are you even talking to your demographic? If you are an older white guy talking to a younger generation of Millennials, there’s going to be  a disconnect. Dive into the psychographics of your target audiences. You must communicate in a way that’s truely relevant to the people you want to attract.

7| Match up your messages. Content is still king, and if you’re putting 18 different messages into the marketplace hoping that one will stick, you might just be killing the kingdom. Make sure that all of your message outlets, including broadcast TV, internet, eCRM and social, are working synergistically, complementing not just mimicking one another.

8 | Track every effort. The greatest benefit of digital marketing is you can track, test and tweak any marketing campaign you are run through the internet. This is that accountability piece I mentioned. You cannot measure the effectiveness of your marketing strategy if you don’t track and monitor your online efforts.

9 | Solidify your CRM. All your legal marketing efforts will be for not if you don’t have an internal system for organizing client communications. Every attorney should have effective, easy-to-use customer relationship management software in place to manage the marketing associated with each and every client.

10 | Map the client experience. Being a good lawyer and working hard on your clients’ cases have nothing to do with how you treat your clients or how your clients feel they are treated. Know exactly what happens from the moment a prospect calls your law firm to the months following the closure their case. How are you talking to them, following up, re-marketing, etc.? You must understand the full scope of the client experience—it outweighs everything.

What matters is the value of the cases you are asking for and getting. It costs the same to ask for a low-end case as it does for a high-valued case. What would you ask a jury for? You get what you ask for!

Harlan Schillinger can be reached at HarlanSchillinger@gmail.com and 303-817-7313.

The Best TV Ad Strategy For Your Money

Leads spedometerA surgical approach to placing TV ad dollars: Why a creative, flexible strategy pays off in television legal advertising and what to do next.

Evaluate your legal advertising spend and pretend you’re a doctor instead of an attorney. Why? Because a precise, surgical approach to placing your law firm television advertising in the right market at the right time will more than pay off in ROI.

It used to be that daytime ruled the airwaves. That timeframe best maximized ad spends, because people were tuned in -something that agencies marketing for attorneys could track and demonstrate to clients in ROI-based results. However, times have changed, and daytime TV has become an overcrowded space for law firms.

Every ad seems like more of the same

Especially in highly competitive markets, too many attorneys are targeting the same audience over and over, leaving little room for law firms to truly distinguish themselves from the competition – and find new audiences or clients! To an inundated viewership, every ad seems like more of the same.

The smartest, most calculated approach in the saturated law firm TV advertising market is simply to get more creative with ad placement time slots. For example, Network Affiliates’ skilled media strategists regularly help lawyers test targeted ad campaigns during off­peak hours, such as early in the morning, during the late news and on surprisingly popular Sunday nights. Some of these ad buys even come with free overnights. Are you getting yours?

This methodology does require some trial and error, but then again, you’re lawyers – and you’re used to that, right? Often law firms find that their legal marketing message is better received and calls come in quicker as they move away from the daytime advertising swarms and focus on singular calls to action during specific times when a group of viewers is intently tuned into TV.

Rules of thumb

Here are the three general rules of thumb to follow to ensure you are getting the most out of your television advertising.

The first step in choosing an ideal advertising time slot is surveying the competition. If equipped with the right (and expensive!) software, your advertising agency can pull this type of competitive analysis to help you make a smart and strategic plan of action for advertising placement. Not all agencies have access to the tracking tools and applications that show the length of ads, purchased time slots and every single one of your direct competitors’ commercials. However, that kind of big data can lead to big payoffs in terms of ROI. You might think of it like a game of chess: You’ve got to see the whole board to outwit your opponent and get one move ahead.

The second part of strategic attorney television advertising placement is asking for what you want. And not just in your creative campaign. Your ad placement professional should know what questions to ask and how to negotiate a better ad buy to get your law firm more for its hard-earned money. We call that value! Television stations have all kinds of negotiating options up their sleeve, and only a few legal ad buyers know how to get the greatest added value for every ad placed.

Lastly, to ensure that your targeted creative message, pinpointed time
slot and added-value bonuses are actually paying off, you must track
your advertising effectiveness – and adjust if necessary. The most successful attorney marketing strategies are nimble, aggressively monitored campaigns. Your agency must be meticulously tracking and openly reporting to your law firm on the success – and even failures – of ad placements. Adjusting and fine-tuning is just part of the process, an activity that your firm should be fully involved in.

Now, what is the next step?

How to make it really profitable. While lawyers know that a clever and consistent TV ad campaign is a critical foundation for disseminating brand message, let’s not forsake the trees for the forest. There are small changes your law firm can make related to how you handle intake and conversion from your core advertising that might make a bigger difference than throwing more money at your TV presence.

The subtleties of intake (how you work with the calls and clients that come in) and conversion (how you monetize those calls) require a specific strategy, but the payoff for this focused effort can be big. For example, we’ve helped a number of firms around the country increase profit by between 2% and 5% just by improving how they answer the phone.

Intake idea: record your calls. One of the easiest ways to learn more about how your intake process really works is to start recording your calls. You might be shocked by what you hear! There are a variety of handy technologies available to automatically track phone inquiries, which you can then leverage for future financial gain.

If you’re already recording and monitoring calls, take the next step to use the information you’ve gathered to better communicate with the people who do call. Qualifying callers is crucial. Perhaps you’re writing off people too quickly? If your law firm has ever gotten a six-figure settlement from a case two other lawyers turned down, you’ll understand what we mean. Ask your attorneys, what they did differently the time your firm got that lucrative case:

• Did they dig a little deeper upfront?
• Did they ask more probing questions?
• Did they think about ways to solve the client’s problem rather than focusing on “selling” the lawyers to the caller?

Once you know the answer to these questions, you can begin to fine-tune your procedures for pre-qualifying and vetting more of those “potential” cases. Consider how your intake specialists talk to callers; whether your firm turns away cases too quickly; how you handle referrals from other attorneys; and how you follow up with people who aren’t a fit today, but could be a profitable case tomorrow.

Remember, when it comes to intake and conversion, you’ve got nothing to lose – and only profit to gain – by honing your skills in this department. So what’s holding you back? If you’re ready to move forward but think you need a little assistance, don’t hesitate to call. Network Affiliates can help you take the next step in turning your call center into a profit center.

Make Your Legal Commercials and Website Work Together

Make Your Legal Commercials and Website Work TogetherBy Harlan Schillinger.

Two key advertising channels to review right now are your law firm’s TV commercials and website. When properly integrated, this powerful duo will help your marketing hit the mark. Let’s consider three ways clients interact with these mediums and why that matters.

Watch the ad

Very often a consumer’s first interaction with your legal brand is through a well-timed TV commercial. This initial impression is critical and should not only create an emotional effect, but also a direct response. Your firm’s ad should encourage people to reach out through an appropriate call to action. As you review your current creative or start to work on a strategic advertising campaign for 2015, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your branding and creative stand out? (Are you distinguishing your firm within your specific legal niche or regional marketplace?)
  • Does your commercial make it clear that your law firm has an online presence (i.e. website and social media)?
  • Would you call your law firm based solely upon that ad? (Be honest.)

Google your name

If consumers don’t initiate a phone call after seeing your ad on television, their next step is typically performing a Google search to check on the legitimacy of your firm. Based what’s returned, a consumer might learn more about your lawyers on your website or check other reviews of your firm via a social media platform. The results of a Google search can be very telling about how well your marketing is working, while providing key insights about how a typical client might interact with your brand. When was the last time your Googled yourself?

  • Do you show up on the first page of Google results? Where?
  • How many times does your name/brand appear and in what “forms”?
  • Is it immediately clear that you are the same law firm that was on TV?

Take an action

After a preliminary interaction with your law firm through TV or online, a potential client should have enough information to take further action or make an informed decision about what move to make next. As you watch your ad, Google your firm, and land on your website, try to view these neutrally as a consumer might. Think about what impression your firm is making and what your next intuitive action might be.

  • What is the first impression you’re really making?
  • What actions are potential clients taking upon an initial search or after landing on your website?
  • Are visitors converting on your site? Do you even know?

Applying your intelligence

Once you’ve looked at how potential clients first interact with your firm—what they see, how they find you, and what actions they take—it’s the perfect opportunity to take that new intelligence and market better in 2015.

You are spending thousands to develop TV ads and drive consumers to your legal website. Make sure awareness doesn’t end there. Look at monthly analytics from last year’s campaigns: Where were leads coming from? Where did people spend time on your website? What actions were they taking on the site? What percentage of visitors did you convert to cases?

Harlan SchillingerHarlan Schillinger is the V.P. / Director of Marketing at Network Affiliates. As a 39-year veteran of the legal marketing and advertising industry, I know what it takes for your law firm to stand out. I would be happy to do a free and confidential evaluation of your advertising efforts. Give me a call on my cell phone at 303.817.7313.