You’d think that lawyers are the only people on Earth who don’t hear the phrase “Trust me, I’m a lawyer.” But, in fact, we probably hear it more than most. From whom, you ask? Legal marketers.
Recently, I’ve been contacted several times by an outfit called Yodle. Yodle performs marketing services for lawyers and others. And, if what I’ve seen is so, it does it very badly. Because Yodle takes a classic one-size-fits-all approach. Now, understand that my own experience with Yodle is based on a discussion with one of its marketing representatives who kept insisting that I could get more personal injury cases and appellate cases through a Yodle website. (Except that she couldn’t pronounce the word “appellate” properly.) I’ll grant you that my website could probably do with some more traffic, but I’m also pretty convinced that anyone who would hire me strictly based on my website is probably not someone I want to work for. Legal representation is personal representation. The person who stands up in court and speaks for you is, for all intents and purposes, YOU. So make sure he or she is someone you trust.
But the thing that really got me about Yodle’s whole hard-sell was that the salesperson—I won’t give her any other title (sorry to any salespeople reading)—was that she told me that she was a lawyer, so she understood my problems and concerns. But how is it that she knew all those things without actually practicing law on a day-to-day basis? How is it that she knew the stresses and strains of running a law practice? And how is it that she knew the particular concerns of a small-firm (in my case, tiny firm) appellate practitioner? Answer: she didn’t. She had no idea. None whatsoever.
That’s where lawyers can get taken in as easily as anyone else. When someone says he’s like you, you want to believe him. When he says he knows where you’re coming from, you want to sign on. But, if it’s just a sales pitch, you need to look deeper. Ask questions. Probe. I turned Yodle down before I even realized that my good friend Mark Bennett had heavily slagged them on his own blog. Had I done my research first, that’s a few minutes of my life I would have had back. When someone says “trust me,” your first move should be distrust. Trust is earned. Not asked for.