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ABA Techshow

Inexpensive Web Tools and Straight Talk Help Build Client Relationships

Posted Mar 26, 2010 8:57 AM CDT
By Rachel M. Zahorsky

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Screen shot of Rosen's website.

North Carolina divorce attorney Lee Rosen loses sleep at night over his payroll, particularly when business is slow.

Rosen confessed his fear to a packed crowd of lawyers at the ABA Techshow seminar, Crossing the Digital Divide: eMarketing to Clients and Prospects.

Many of those in attendance Thursday, mostly solo- and small-firm practitioners, experience the same insomnia and worry.

"Everything in marketing is about business to consumers, and self-disclosure is the key," explained Rosen, who drew laughs when he also owned up to an irrational apprehension of alligators and snakes. "The more you disclose about yourself, step over the line and show that you are imperfect, the more people will connect with you and want to do business with you."

Rosen’s goal? "To be known, liked and trusted," he says. To that end, the family law practitioner has fully submerged himself in cost-effective and high-leverage e-tools that have allowed him to build client relationships and boost revenue during the downturn.

Along with Web guru Carolyn Elefant, founder of the weblog MyShingle.com and co-author of the forthcoming book The Lawyer's Guide to Social Media, Rosen discussed the technicalities and benefits of e-mail marketing, blogging, podcasting and video chats, online radio, eBooks and webinars.

"These tools allow you to create relationships in a very powerful way," said Rosen, who is the recipient of the ABA Law Practice Management Section's 2010 James I. Keane Memorial Award for online legal service innovations for his family law website, North Carolina Divorce.

Rosen established the website, which features client testimonials and a live call-in video show, as a free resource for those seeking information and advice about family law.

"It started as a small site with a few articles, and it's grown into a massive resource featuring articles, calculators, forms, answers to questions, videos, audio podcasts, forums, live call-in Internet radio shows and e-courses," said award presenter Richard Granat, CEO of DirectLaw. The site also spawned Stay Happily Married, which offers visitors marriage advice and assistance—as well as a way for Rosen to interact with potential clients and build trust. "Think about where clients are before you’re needed," Rosen said. "So you have that relationship before the need arises."

While Rosen has a complete professional radio station booth and video studio, both he and Elefant encouraged the audience to take advantage of free platforms for webinars, such as Dimdim, and inexpensive recorders that still produce quality podcasts. To save cost, Rosen outsourced his website redesign to India through Elance, an online freelance community of programmers, developers and marketers. Elefant regularly enlists a virtual assistant to help with social media management and Internet distribution of content.

No matter which tools lawyers use to reach clients, the key is to demonstrate an understanding of their personal concerns and experiences to build credibility, Rosen cautioned. "Talk like a real person to clients in e-mails and your website, not like a lawyer," he says.

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