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   April 2002


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Practice Development

The New World of Law Practice Marketing

Larry Bodine

Dynamically digital. Why mail a paper brochure when you could send a DVD including video clips of your firm’s lawyers, a virtual tour of your offices and TV interviews about the firm? The six lawyers in the Rapoport Law Offices in Chicago did just that in their glossy, embossed marketing folder. The disc is playable on all DVD players and is interactive. (Viewers can click buttons to choose what they want to see.) The firm used Digital Transfer, Inc. in Willowbrook, Illinois (www.digitaltransferinc.com), to create 500 DVDs. The discs have TV-quality video, are faster than CDs and hold 20 times the data. A 10-lawyer firm can expect to spend $6,000 to $11,000 for an on-site video shoot of each lawyer and 500 discs. This is the best argument against paper I’ve heard yet.

Not So Nutty Levenfeld Pearlstein in Chicago (www.lplegal.com) has found a cure for the common new-lawyer announcement. Mailed in a square forest-green envelope (the firm’s signature color), a recent announcement named all the new lawyers, with short biographies of each, and added some panache. An enclosed card read, "Your lawyers can either drive you crazy or drive you to succeed. We understand the difference. Levenfeld Pearlstein. Lawyers and Excelerators."

Party on. Becoming active in a community full of your target clients is an excellent way to market to an industry. Consider Chicago’s Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal (www.sonnenschein.com). It has solidified its reputation in the high-tech industry by being the only law firm to sponsor monthly "Mobile Wednesday" events for Internet and wireless technology leaders in the Windy City. Attendees reply to e-mail invitations via a link on the Sonnenschein site. The events start with a networking cocktail party at the fancy W hotel and continue with a prominent speaker in the field. For the firm’s lawyers, it’s a party full of potential clients—and the firm is one of the hosts.

Are They Reading It? If your firm is sending plain-text e-mail newsletters to clients, you’re missing an opportunity to learn who’s reading what. Today, vendors provide tracking capabilities that let you know, among other things, how many e-mails were opened and which readers clicked on specific links in your messages. Organizations such as the International Bar Association and Lex Mundi have turned to Envoy Messaging in New York (www.envoynews.com/envoy) to send handsome formatted e-mails to their members. It’s a great

way to know which parts of your message are working.

Choose to be usable. Should the articles on your Web site be in PDF format, preserving your nice design and layout? Or should you put them up in HTML? Whenever possible, avoid using PDFs on your site, says Mark Pruner, president of WebCounsel in Stamford, Connecticut. Here’s why: It’s more difficult to read PDFs versus HTML files on screen. Most search engines do not index PDFs (with Google being an exception). PDFs have to download fully before you can read them. Plus, your article summary and metatags will never have all the keywords people might search. Lastly—face it—most people don’t know how to use the Adobe Acrobat toolbar and can’t search, cut, paste and forward PDFs.

Larry Bodine (lbodine@lawmarketing.com)is a Web and Marketing Consultant who advises law firms on how to get more business. Based in Glen Ellyn, IL, he can be reached at (630) 942-0977.