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Blogs for Lawyers Marketing On The Horizon

Hipster Antitrust Movement: What Is the Purpose of Antitrust Law?

Should companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google be free from antitrust scrutiny merely because their business practices cannot be shown to result in higher prices for consumers?

The Bradley Law Firm‘s award-winning Declassified blog, a premier source of information about class actions, recently examined this conflict in an article by Charles Elder entitled “Hipster Antitrust” Movement Takes Center Stage in Congress.

The article focuses on a recent Judiciary Committee hearing in which representatives questioned CEOs from Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google about allegedly anticompetitive business practices. The hearing was prompted by a 2017 Yale Law Journal article by Lina Khan, which gave rise to what became known informally as the “hipster antitrust” movement:

Since the Reagan administration, the development of antitrust law has focused on consumer welfare – typically indicated by low prices – to determine whether competition had been harmed unlawfully. This development was based on then-professor (and later judge) Robert Bork’s influential book, The Antitrust Paradox, and the libertarian “Chicago school” of economics. If prices stay low and customers are happy, then courts are typically reluctant to find any antitrust violation. If the complaining party was a competitor whose business was harmed, it is often met with the response that the antitrust laws exist to protect competition, not individual competitors.

More recently, scholars such as Khan have argued that this historical view is too narrow, and they advocate for a broader focus on market structure and the power and influence large tech companies wield. They argue that, rather than merely analyzing whether corporate actions result in lower consumer prices, the law should recognize that the excessive concentration of economic power in a handful of large companies is inherently bad, because it exacerbates other ills, such as income inequality and labor abuses, and gives undue political influence to too few people. Khan’s article was specifically about Amazon, a company that famously offers low prices on a wide variety of consumer goods and that has for the most part been well-liked by customers, but which, she argued, exerts a dangerous amount of power to effectively control the online retail economy.

The answer to this question is critical to the future of the Internet. Elder concludes that it’s unlikely that the largest Internet companies will be broken up because they are popular with users.

I tend to agree, but at the same time I think it’s a mistake to underestimate the potential for change. The attacks on these Internet giants are motivated in large part by bipartisan displeasure at their power and how it impacts the national political scene.

Notes on Use of Lawyer Use of Blog Format

This article is a great illustration of how lawyers with little technical expertise can use blogs to promote themselves and their law practice.

Declassified also illustrates the benefits of a team approach. In addition to Elder’s excellent article, it featured recent high quality articles by Jeffrey R. BlackwoodKristina Allen RelifordJ. Thomas RichieDylan C. Black & Richard W.F. Swor.

Finally, the Bradley firm’s website illustrates one of the biggest blog advantages: They tend to attract backlinks, one of the best methods of improving SEO (Search Engine Optimization). In other words, backlinks tend to cause websites to rank higher in Google ratings.

After all, I would most likely never have seen this article, let alone written about it and linked to it, if it had not been published in the blog format.

Many vendors can provide blogs, some very inexpensively, but the legal industry focus of Lexblog (founded by the estimable Kevin O’Keefe, himself author of the Real Lawyers blog) makes it one of the best choices for lawyers.

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Marketing On The Horizon

Self-Publishing by Lawyers

Disintermediation, or cutting out the middleman, is a key effect of the Internet, a disaster for some, an opportunity for others. Uber inserts itself between prospective passengers and conventional cabs. “Cordcutters” bundle antennas and streaming services to avoid TV cable companies. Some lawyers are considering cutting the cord from traditional legal research services.

Dennis Kennedy is showing lawyer/authors a new, possibly lucrative form of disintermediation: Bypassing conventional publishers.

I’m finishing a (laudatory) review of Dennis Kennedy’s new book Successful Innovation Outcomes in Law: A Practical Guide for Law Firms, Law Departments and Other Legal Organizations. I was impressed by the fact that Dennis does not merely talk innovation: He does innovation.

Rather than go with a conventional book publisher, Kennedy self-published the book, working through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (includes option for on-demand paperback publishing as well as eBook).

I used to think of “vanity press” condescendingly, as primarily for authors whose work was not good enough to interest a “real” publisher. This book has changed my attitude. There are multiple advantages to self-publishing, including speedier development and reducing the cost to purchasers.

Kennedy is in a better position to self-publish than most authors. Having a respected third party (in this case, an established conventional publisher) select a book for publication serves a sort of credentialing function, “validating” the book for potential readers. Kennedy’s track record as a recognized expert and author allows him to “self-validate.”

Dennis found the results of self-publishing so beneficial that he explained in an interview posted at his podcast, the Kennedy-Mighell Report that the odds are 95% that he will self-publish his next book. 

Self-publishing looks like an increasingly attractive option for lawyer authors.

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Marketing

Substack-Mailing List Service

Subscriptions have been one way lawyers have made money for years. The Atlantic and the New York Times have information about using email newsletters for this purpose. They provide an alternative that may be preferable to social media for some lawyers.

Substack is one way to market your law practice and/or monetize an email list through subscriptions. It is a sort of echo/distribution service for lawyers. You can start a mailing list at no charge, using it to build a community. You have the option to begin charging subscribers for your content. Legal tech guru Tom Mighell uses this service.

Substack is free initially. They provide:

  • Your own email list
  • A website archive of all your posts
  • Community features
  • Control over what’s free and what’s only for your paying subscribers

Setup is quick and easy. Your email subscription list will be in the following format:

your.name@substack.com

There is no fee until you begin making money from your subscriptions. Substack then takes a 10% commission, so it is risk free (except for investing your time).

There are two drawbacks. Their use of the substack.com domain name:

  • Reduces the effectiveness of your branding, and
  • Makes it difficult to move your mailing list to another host/sponsor, should you decide to do so later

Despite these drawbacks, Substack looks like a good alternative for lawyers who would like to establish an email mailing list to expand their reach.

Medium.com has more information.

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Marketing Presentation Tips

Presentation Tip 13: Online Presentation Microphones

As explained in Presentation Tip 12, the first step in online training is deciding on your level of ambition. What quality level do you need? What is your level of technical skill? How much time do you have?

Once you decide on your preferred quality level, you can decide what level of equipment you will need. We provided some advice on camera selection in Presentation Tip 12. Let’s consider microphone selection.

Which is more important for online presentations, video or audio?Most lawyers would say video is more important.

Dennis Kennedy knows better: Audio quality is more significant. The microphone in your typical desktop computer or laptop is usually pretty poor. Most computer purchasers prioritize things like processor speed, memory or display quality. It makes sense for them to cut corners on microphone quality.

Unfortunately, it’s harder to get good audio. Again, the Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast provides a good starting point for analysis:

Microphone built into your laptop or desktop. Use this only if high quality is not important to you.

Headset with built-in microphone. These can be better than a laptop or desktop. Exercise some care in your selection. Mighell likes the Plantronics Voyager Focus UC.

Lavalier mic. These are generally comparable in quality to headsets. which then again allows you not to have great microphone technique, but will still pick

Stand alone microphone. The Kennedy-Mighell Report uses a Shure 58. Many other high quality mics are available.

More in our next Presentation Tips post.

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Marketing On The Horizon Productivity Tips

Seth Grodin: Selling Results

Good insight here from Seth Grodin for lawyers willing to try something different:

“We don’t pay surgeons by the hour. […] When you sell your time, you’re giving away your ability to be a thoughtful, productivity-improving professional. Sell results.”

H/T to Mary Ellen Bates.

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COVID-19 Marketing Presentation Tips

Presentation Tip 12: Online Presentations Intro & Camera Selection

Everyone understands why online presentations have become more important than ever. This is the first in our series of online Presentation Tips. We invite you to travel along with us.

Selected Resources

Here are a few of the better resources we’ll be discussing:

  1. Top Tips & Tools for Better Online Presentations
  2. Video & Audio Quality Matter — Make Your Remote Work More Professional

The first order of business for online presentations is deciding on your level of ambition. Tom Mighell summaries the issue concisely at the Kennedy-Mighell Report podcast:

So what do you want? Do you want a professional setup for talking to clients or colleagues? Do you want a more polished setup to record videos for YouTube or other services? I think the purpose that you have is going to determine the kind of setup that you have got. And I tend to agree with you, if you want something that’s more professional, more polished, if you tend to want to make more of what you are going to be doing with this, what you have likely is not going to work.

Video Quality

Dennis Kennedy‘s followup provides a perfect example for the ambition issue: Use the camera built into your laptop only if you don’t care about quality.

Cameras are typically not a primary consideration for laptop purchasers, so manufacturers tend to use very cheap cameras. What if you are more ambitious?

  • Cameras in smartphones or tablets provide an easy way to get a better result. This may seem counterintuitive, but it makes sense. Since camera quality is a discriminating factor behind mobile device purchases, manufacturers strive to provide higher quality cameras. Mighell observes: “I decided to use my iPad to attend a Microsoft Teams meeting and the quality difference in the camera was 1,000% better on the iPad.” A USA Today affiliate article has some advice.
  • Dedicated high-resolution web cameras are the next step up. Logitech is a reliable brand name. Mighell recommends the Logitech C930, but they are in short supply, and vendors recently have taken advantage of the market to bump up the price. A Google search will find one, or a model of comparable quality.
  • If you are striving for the highest quality, a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera may be your best choice. These are general purpose cameras that can be adapted for online use. They generally have the best quality. The downside is that they can be trickier to set up. Engadget has good advice on the ins and outs.

Microphone selection is similar: Choose the level that best matches your ambition level. More on microphone selection in our next Presentation Tip post.

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Marketing

Transitioning from Twitter to Blogging

Bob Ambrogi interviewed Lindsay Griffiths, author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking blog. Sometimes 280 characters just won’t cut it:

Originally, I thought that it didn’t make sense for me to blog. And I didn’t think I had anything to say. But I started on Twitter first and I realized that when I would respond to things that people were saying or questions that people had that I had much more to say than  140 characters at that time permitted me to answer…I started to realize that maybe I did have something to say and I did have a viewpoint that felt valuable and I could interact on a larger platform.

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Marketing

Is Now The Right Time to Start  A Podcast?

The Kennedy-Mighell report is consistently  a source of useful insights into legal technology. A recent edition discussed ways to improve audio/video setups. Two of the best tips:

  1. iPhone and iPad cameras are enormously better than the cameras built into laptops and PCs
  2. Counter-intuitively, sound quality is more important than visual quality in making a good impression.

A piece of “strategic” advice may be more useful than any of the technical tips, though. As Dennis explains:

No, it’s like all these people are doing podcasts now and you are competing with actual entertainers and people are doing high quality productions and all those people tend to do very long podcasts, so how are you going to break into that?

And so, I think this stuff is super-difficult to sustain especially as you kind of get back into this to swing of — if you go back to work, if you are still working from home what you’re probably going to discover is that if you take the commute out of your day, you will free up a significant amount of time that you could put into an outlet, but I think it’s hard to know whether you are a writer, you are a podcaster, you are a video person, and then how you can do it, and we are lucky being part of Legal Talk Network is that we can just be talent and we can do our show and it gets produced for us and gets distributed for us, and that’s awesome. If you are trying to do all that yourself it’s going to be difficult and you think you are going to do it once a week and it’s going to be once every two weeks and once a month, and then once every six months, and nobody wants to be the person who launches the new podcast, and then it has one episode which people have done, believe me.

So I think there is no time like the present in some ways, but you’ve got to be realistic about it, and the fact is that if you haven’t started a podcast by now you want to think about why that’s the case.

Categories
Marketing Productivity Tips

How Carolyn Elefant Does It

Never stop thinking, never stop working.

No wonder we can’t keep up with this woman.

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Marketing

Greg Siskind’s Travel Ban Advisor App

Greg Siskind gets it. He knows far better than most lawyers how to do well by doing good. His new Travel Ban Advisor app is a perfect way to get new clients: Help the people you want to be your new clients.

I expect no less from the author of The Lawyer’s Guide to Marketing on the Internet. More on this later …