Around the Blawgosphere

Question the quality of client leads from the Web; Should you link up with competitors on LinkedIn?


BlawgWhisperer

Last month, Arizona criminal defense attorney Matt Brown noted at Tempe Criminal Defense that he was taking a break from blogging to go on a 700-plus-mile hike. But he checked into the office periodically.

“At some point after climbing onto the Colorado Plateau, however, the volume of voice messages increased,” Brown wrote this week. “Not a lot, but a noticeable amount.”

He later made the connection that the flurry of calls were related to his having “skyrocketed to a perfect 10” on Avvo.com while on vacation. But while he had six appointments lined up for his first week back, only one of those potential clients showed made it to the appointment, and this one was a referral from a former client.

Simple Justice blogger Scott Greenfield, also a “perfect 10” on Avvo writes that he has had the same experience.

“By my calculus, it takes 1,000 calls from people who find you on the internet to get one person whose case I would take,” Greenfield wrote. “The same people who use the Internet to find a lawyer are the ones who are taught by companies like Avvo that lawyers’ time has no value. They teach that lawyers answer questions for free. They teach that a person in need of a lawyer for his public urination case should contact 10, 20, 30 lawyers to find the right one for them.”

Brown wrote later this week about hearing from “some sort of service allowing me to compare other lawyers’ online marketing with my own.” It highlighted the name of a “local competitor” who they say “is using online marketing to ‘attract customers’ away from my business. I find that statement problematic because that particular lawyer was recently disbarred and is presently being held without bond after being charged with sexual abuse, sexual misconduct with a minor, and molestation of a child. Avvo hasn’t updated his page to reflect that either. Way to go, online lawyer-marketing guys.”


For those leery of linking

Should you connect with your competitors on LinkedIn? Of course, Denver-based law firm consultant Merrilyn Astin Tarlton writes at Attorney at Work.

“Haven’t you, all along, been going to bar association conferences and exchanging business cards with opposing counsel as a way to expand your network and stimulate referrals and introductions?” Tarlton wrote. “This is no different.”

She acknowledges that some lawyers are concerned that if they’re connected to competitors on LinkedIn, those competitors will pore over their connections list for their clients and try to steal them. Not going to happen, Tarlton wrote. “If you think another lawyer could actually steal your clients by sending them an invitation to connect on LinkedIn…if that’s all it takes, why aren’t you out there linking and stealing? Could it be because you know it takes a lot more than that?”

For that matter, “you do know there is no way for a competitor to see that one of your connections is your client, right?” Tarlton wrote. “All they will know is that they are a connection. And they won’t even be able to know that if you adjust your privacy settings.”


What are grounds for asylum?

At the Volokh Conspiracy, University of California at Los Angeles law professor Eugene Volokh notes this week’s decision by the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denying asylum to a German couple who wanted–primarily for religious reasons–to home-school their children, a practice that is not legal in Germany. The court found (PDF) that “German authorities have not singled out the Romeikes in particular or home-schoolers in general for persecution.”

Volokh thought that there might be a constitutional right via the Free Exercise Clause for someone to home-school children 14 and older for religious reasons. “But even if the U.S. Constitution is read as securing such a right, can that be enough to secure asylum to everyone who wants to exercise the right, and can’t do so in their home country? Everyone who wants to own a handgun, but can’t do so under his or her home country’s law?” Et cetera.

Volokh notes that he and his family came to the U.S. as refugees from the Soviet Union. “But whether or not that policy was sound (and the fact that it helped me, and that I’m grateful that it did, doesn’t tell us that much about whether it was sound), it seems to me that asylum from a country where a vast range of human rights is pervasively denied is quite different from asylum where the right at stake is solely the right to home-school, important as that is for many people.”

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