Thirty some years ago, as a practicing lawyer, I’d receive a carbon copy of a lawyer referral slip from the State Bar of Wisconsin.
Someone from the La Crosse area had contacted the State Bar, via a toll free number displayed in the yellow pages, asking for a referral to a local lawyer.
I was on the referral list for matters in which I had no deep expertise. Being I was next up on the list, my name, with nothing on my background nor expertise, was given to the person who called the Bar.
The carbon copy was forwarded to me so I knew that if the person contacted me, I was to pay ten percent of my fee to the Bar.
With some flaws, it was not a bad way to connect people with lawyers in a state – thirty or sixty years ago.
Like everything, the Internet has changed how people find a lawyer.
Unfortunately, websites and directories, aren’t doing a great job in connecting people with lawyers. 85% of people, regardless of whether they have the financial resources or not, don’t contact a lawyer.
Websites and online legal directories aren’t working to increase to legal services. They tend to be advertisements, brochures and fancy yellow pages.
People rightly expect more, and don’t place a lot of trust in these things as a means to identifying the right lawyer for them.
How about something as simple as state bar association law blog network.
- Identity the top cities in your state, Maybe the top five or ten. For larger states, it may be more,
- Identify the top ten or fifteen areas of practice. When building out Prairielaw.com, later incorporated into Martindale’s lawyers.com, we identified thirteen practice areas for which we’d provide legal information by state.
- Identify where good blogs already exist for these metro areas and other areas within the state.
- Identify where there there are not good law blogs for each of the practice areas in any of the identified metro areas.
- Aggregate and curate the existing blog content now being published by lawyers. The content is displayed online, with constant updates. Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Arizona and New York City have already done this.
- Include a directory of these blogs, bloggers and their firms. Not just for people to come and find bloggers, though they may, but to have profiles for each the blogs, bloggers and firms that will be indexed at Google.
- Recruit the blogs and bloggers you need to fill the practice areas in each of the identified metro areas.
- There is no cost to the lawyers.
What do you have?
- A vehicle by which a consumer or small business person can go to the net, probably Google, and immediately find an experienced and caring lawyer in the niche needed. They’ll find the blog and they’ll find the profile of the blogging lawyer on the bar’s network site.
- A vehicle for consumers and small business people to develop an intimate relationship of trust with a lawyer. Not only is the lawyer sharing valuable information, they are doing it themselves, in their own writing and in their town of voice.
- The type of solution people expect with the Internet today. Something that is innovative and disruptive, not more of the same. Something that gives a person something more than they otherwise get from a website or a directory.
- A never ending and growing body of information for consumers and small businesses on various areas of the law.
Pretty simple concept.
What do we have to lose by trying legal blog networks, except the growing gap in access to legal services and people choosing the wrong lawyer.