Business of Law
Lights, Camera, New Business: Video Shows Human Side of Practice
Posted Dec 1, 2011 3:50 AM CDT
By Deborah L. Cohen
Attorney Mitch Jackson has been creating short, informational videos about personal injury and wrongful death suits for several years as part of an online campaign to boost his profile and put potential clients at ease. “It’s the best relationship tool we’ve incorporated into our practice,” says Jackson, who partners with his wife, Lisa Wilson, in a small Laguna Hills, Calif., firm. “Videos give people the impression they know you.”
Jackson favors the DIY approach to video. He’s produced short videos on tort claims, including one about a fatal accident on a snowy highway and another on the loss of a finger from a pit bull attack. The videos can be seen on Jackson’s website or his dedicated YouTube channel, and he says they have sent new business his way.
According to a July report from the Pew Research Center, more than 70 percent of adults with Internet access now visit video-sharing sites like YouTube or Vimeo. And more lawyers are marketing their services by creating videos that offer everything from virtual firm tours to soap-opera-style case re-enactments.
By far, the most common medium comes in the form of newslike reports showcasing practice expertise and a sense of the lawyer’s personality.
“To get hired as a lawyer, you have to do three things—be somebody the other person knows, trusts and likes,” says attorney Larry Bodine, a Glen Ellyn, Ill.-based law firm marketer and editor of Lawyers.com. (And a former editor and publisher of the ABA Journal.)
“Video accomplishes all three,” says Bodine. “You show you’re a normal human being, not somebody in an ivory tower.”
For a $1,500 investment, he says, lawyers can buy equipment that will produce professional-quality results. And there is an abundance of books offering valuable production tips.
Increasingly, outsourcing options are emerging. Kawahito Shraga & Westrick in Los Angeles hired a production firm that produces documentary-style video at affordable prices.
The firm invested $2,000 for a two-minute introductory segment. They may add shorter vignettes addressing developments on specific legal topics.
“We’re attorneys, not a production company,” says partner David Shraga, whose firm represents small businesses as well as Fortune 500 companies. “We want it to look great.”