Attorney Journal, Orange County, Volume 148

Page 1


Volume 148, 2018 $6.95

Digital Marketing Trends in 2018 and Beyond

Unlocking the Talents of the Millennial Lawyer

Bill Tilley

JP Box

20 Traits of the 100%-Capable Rainmaker

The Eye-Popping Fear That Keeps Prospects and Clients from Calling You

Mike O’Horo

Trey Ryder

How Meditation Helped My Law Practice and Why I Think It Could Help Yours

Claire E. Parsons 11 “MORE” SEO Specialists Share Their Best Tips for Lawyers

Chris Dreyer


Samuel Yu, Esq. Attorney at Kahana and Feld LLP

Tenacity and Instincts

Law Firm of the Month

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2018 EDITION—NO.148

TABLE OF CONTENTS 6 Twenty Traits of the 100%-Capable Rainmaker by Mike O’Horo

8 Digital Marketing Trends in 2018 and Beyond by Bill Tilley PROFESSIONAL PROFILE


10 Samuel Yu, Esq. Attorney at Kahana and Feld LLP Tenacity and Instincts by Dan Baldwin

EDITOR Wendy Price


by Claire E. Parsons

PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Griffiths

CONTRIBUTING EDITORIALISTS JP Box Chris Dreyer Mike O’Horo Claire E. Parsons Trey Ryder Bill Tilley WEBMASTER Mariusz Opalka ADVERTISING INQUIRIES SUBMIT AN ARTICLE OFFICE 30211 Avenida De Las Banderas Suite 200 Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688 ADDRESS CHANGES Address corrections can be made via fax, email or postal mail.

12 Community News 14 How Meditation Helped My Law Practice And Why I Think It Could Help Yours

CREATIVE SERVICES Skidmutro Creative Partners

STAFF WRITERS Dan Baldwin Jennifer Hadley




16 Madison Law APC, Serving Orange County Innovative Style, Proven Strategies and Lasting Relationships by Dan Baldwin

22 The Eye-Popping Fear That Keeps Prospects and Clients from Calling You by Trey Ryder

24 Unlocking the Talents of the Millennial Lawyer by JP Box

28 11 “More” SEO Specialists Share Their Best Tips for Lawyers by Chris Dreyer


Editorial material appears in Attorney Journal as an informational service for readers. Article contents are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of Attorney Journal. Attorney Journal makes every effort to publish credible, responsible advertisements. Inclusion of product advertisements or announcements does not imply endorsement. Attorney Journal is a trademark of Sticky Media, LLC. Not affiliated with any other trade publication or association. Copyright 2018 by Sticky Media, LLC. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without written permission from Sticky Media, LLC. Printed in the USA




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20 Traits of the 100%Capable Rainmaker by Mike O’Horo


hat does it take to be a great rainmaker, able to generate millions of dollars in business each year, reliably? As with every great accomplishment, there’s much more than you can see. The Winter Olympic broadcasts featured background stories about how athletes became among the best in the world at their sport. Before those stories, those of us who don’t ski, skate, slide, or curl knew little about the details of being able to, for example, slide a polished stone to a precise destination more than 100 icy feet away. Many lawyers, observing their rainmaker peers, likewise see only the most visible things they do versus the many skills they must master and deploy consistently.

The traits of a 100%-capable rainmaker: 1. Avoids “pitching” behaviors in favor of helping buyers make informed, considered, self-interested decisions about problems of significance. 2. Possesses significant business acumen and awareness of the current business environment and influences. 3. Avoids “product-centrism,” i.e., an orientation to the merits of the firm’s service products, and the resulting inclination to pursue demand solely for one’s own technical specialty. 4. Bases conversations on demand-triggering business issues, i.e., problems for which there is objective, 3rd-party evidence suggesting strategic, operational or economic consequences of sufficient impact to require decision-making, action and solution investment. 5. Cross-sells others’ services by learning from colleagues the door-opening business problems that drive demand for each service and asks clients if they face that problem. 6. Recognizes the existence of multiple stakeholders in this problem at different levels. Is adept at evincing their full complement of self-interest relative to the demand-triggering problem and facilitating a decision. 7. Conducts a disciplined investigation of the practical and economic consequences of inaction against the demandtriggering problem (Cost of Doing Nothing) 8. Elicits each stakeholder’s perception of the imputed or perceived ROI obtainable from successful solution. Uses declared ROI to motivate a decision, and to earn and maintain premium prices and margins. 9. Has mastered the process of Stakeholder Alignment leading to a reliable group decision. 10. Develops professional intimacy. 11. Earns the right to manage the matter. Develops business in a way that does not induce the client to default requiring the selling


Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 148, 2018

lawyer’s personal technical participation beyond the degree that the seller deems strategically appropriate. 12. Anticipates success and plans for the future resource requirements of the larger practice that will result from successful business development. 13. Doesn’t wait for service-product obsolescence but anticipates product/price maturity and looks beyond today’s demand to prepare for the future. Initiates discussions that cannibalize today’s declining-margin services in favor of initiating demand for future premium-priced services. 14. Initiates operating changes demanded by clients, recognizing the value in being out front on trends. 15. Establishes a defensible, differentiated position in an organized market sub-sector containing growing companies with healthy profit margins. Aligns with decision-makers who recognize that only two out of the three elements of the “Value Holy Trinity” (Speed, Impact, Price) usually are available at any one time, and who value speed and impact over the other permutations. 16. Establishes valuable contributory roles that facilitate subordinate team members’ growth and institutionalize the client, thus avoiding the bottleneck of inordinate client contact having to flow through her. 17. Shares credit—and client responsibility—freely, to enable her to diversify her portfolio, and attract and retain key talent. 18. Maintains robust awareness by reading about key business trends, industries, and sectors, to the point that she is prepared to offer an informed, current, cogent opinion—extemporaneously, without notice or preparation. 19. Consistently seeks candid feedback from clients, team members and contacts regarding service satisfaction, demand trends, and macroeconomic social and political factors that influence and shape current and future demand. 20. Seeks continuous skill improvement through ongoing training and coaching. How many of these were you unaware of? Are you surprised that there are this many? If you’re a successful rainmaker who aspires to greatness, use this as an improvement checklist. Assess yourself against each and commit to improving each area of weakness. Mike O’Horo is a serial innovator in the law business. His current venture, RainmakerVT, is the world’s first interactive online rainmaking training for lawyers, by which lawyers learn how to attract the right kind of clients without leaving their desks. For 20 years, Mike has been known by lawyers everywhere as The Coach. He trained more than 7000 of them, generating $1.5 billion in new business. Mike can be reached at







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Digital Marketing Trends in 2018 and Beyond by Bill Tilley

If you have seen a slump in your recent marketing efforts, you need to evaluate what you are doing wrong and what you are doing right.


s the first quarter of 2018 ends, you should have a good idea of how your marketing efforts are playing out and readjust as needed. While the number of leads you are getting each month is significant, the quality of leads and rate of conversion is crucial to your bottom line. If you do not know your conversion rates and the breakdown of leads coming in each day, week and month, you may be wasting money. Working with a marketing team with a transparent accounting of how each campaign is working will help you keep track of your efforts, but you need to have a firm understanding of the basics of digital marketing.

Focus on Intake The number of leads you get each month will matter even less if you do not have a comprehensive intake system. If you cannot close the deal, you will not be successful. If you are not personally doing the intake, call into your office as a prospective caller or listen to recordings from previous calls to ensure that the person doing the intake is competent, friendly and handling the calls appropriately. If you have a call center handling after-hours intake, do an audit of how they are handling each call. It is highly recommended that every size law firm have an after-hours call center to handle any calls with leads that can be directly transferred to an attorney or intake paralegal. The more calls you take directly, the more likely you will retain that client. The likelihood of retaining a prospective client that must leave a message is considerably less. They will move on to your competitor faster than you can redial their number.


Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 148, 2018

If you have a system for leads to email inquiries, consider having an automatic reply text to send to them or an automated reply email and then make sure the prospect is contacted as soon as possible. The quicker you are at contacting leads, the higher your conversion rate will be.

Follow up, Follow Up, Follow Up Follow up not only applies to leads, as discussed above, but also to anyone interested in the content you are supplying on your website, blog or social media. Consider reply emails that go out to people that download your E-book or that visit your blog. Follow up with additional information that may be of interest. Consider sending video in the email that answers frequently asked questions. Video can often establish a connection with prospective clients that a regular text email may not.

Diversify You need to diversify when it comes to digital marketing. Relying solely on a robust SEO strategy will likely not produce the results you are looking for. You need to have all your cylinders working when it comes to social media, blogging, or any other aspect of a complete marketing campaign. The more platforms you are on, the bigger your market becomes. Utilize the different technology available for getting your message on different platforms. Make sure that anything that is being published is consistent with your overall brand. Keep detailed analytics on every aspect of your digital marketing campaign so that you can tweak things that are not producing.

Focus on Your Ideal Client Think about your ideal customer. As an attorney, you are naturally client-focused. You have to be, to be successful. You are representing their interests and getting them the best results possible in their case. This should apply to prospective clients as well as current ones. Think about how your ideal client interacts with digital content. Make sure that your target audience has access to your information immediately. All content produced should be accessible on all devices. Clients will move on to a competitor within seconds if your website is not responsive to a mobile device. Do not make that basic mistake. If you don’t have video, you should. Video is one of the most compelling ways for customers to view your content. It is a mainstay on social media and is favored by numerous search engine algorithms. Give your potential customers information in the format that they want.

Engage, Interact and Inform Focus on engagement. A successful social media campaign will have high engagement with viewers. You want people to stay on your website and come back for more. You should be a valued source of information for not only your current clients but also those that are searching the internet. Consider the problems that your clients face and produce informative content that

speaks to those issues. Respond to inquiries from blog posts and social media accounts; even if they aren’t leads, they should be considered potential referral sources. Be wary of posting content just to display content. Always focus on quality and make sure that you review anything that is posted on your behalf. Digital marketing in 2018 and beyond presents new obstacles. Search engines continue to change how they rank sites with new algorithms being continuously generated. Artificial intelligence and machine learning is an unchartered frontier that will undoubtedly be integrated with marketing campaigns in the future. As we gear up for the future, we need to focus on the basics. Making sure you have a reliable intake system, all-inclusive follow-up and diversified digital marketing campaign will help you stay at the top of your game. n Bill Tilley is the Founder & CEO of Amicus Media Group (AMG). AMG brings to the table an unparalleled network of media relationships and services to drive quality cases to law firm partners at the most cost-effective economics possible. Utilizing the power of television, radio, and the web, AMG combines our extensive experience in legal marketing focusing on areas such as Mass Tort, Personal Injury, and Family Law. Amicus Media Group’s range of services span from media buying, media management, performance marketing, campaign financing, and creative production. Learn more by visiting

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420 Exchange, Suite 270, Irvine, California 92602 | (949) 553-0304 | Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 148, 2018


TENACITY and INSTINCTS by Dan Baldwin to a foreign judgment. As a result of Yu’s efforts, the KDIC has recovered more than $3 million on behalf of the taxpayers in Korea. Yu is uniquely qualified and is tenacious in pursuit of a claim until the matter is concluded. For example, if a defendant files for bankruptcy, many attorneys will close the file and move on. Alternatively, if a judgment has been entered but the defendant refuses to pay, many attorneys are at a loss as to how to proceed. Yu says, “I will see a case through to the end. Whether through the bankruptcy court or through enforcement of judgment, I will pursue the claim until my client is paid.” Yu is also skilled at litigating shareholder disputes. Recently, Yu handled a complex case regarding a shareholder dispute at a motion capture company. His client was denied the opportunity to nominate himself in the election for the board of directors despite significant support because the CEO made incorrect claims regarding the requirements in the company’s bylaws. When the company failed to comply with a corporate document request, Yu filed a lawsuit to invalidate the election and for failure to comply with the California Corporations Code. As a result of Yu’s efforts, the client was not only elected to the board of directors but was able to secure an additional seat for another reform candidate to bring change to the company. As the client explained:

“Business litigation is where I thrive. It’s where I began my career, and FEATURED I cannot imagine doing anything PROFESTSHIOENMAOLNPTROFILE else,” says Samuel Yu, Esq. attorney H OF at Kahana and Feld LLP. He has 2018 been with the firm since 2014. Yu practices business litigation in a broad range of practice areas including contract disputes, shareholder disputes, and labor and employment law. He handles many cases on behalf of the Korea Deposit Insurance Corporation (KDIC), the Korean equivalent to the FDIC in the U.S. After defaulting on a loan in Korea, many debtors flee Korea for the U.S., falsely believing that they cannot be subject JOURNAL


Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 148, 2018

“I had the opportunity to work with Samuel Yu on two different shareholder rights/small company governance lawsuits over the course of two years. Sam was extremely knowledgeable in this area of the law and fully capable of fierce advocacy on one hand or reasonable negotiation on the other. Sam went out of his way to listen and accede to my requirements, while providing counsel and occasionally ‘talking me down’ on those issues where his extensive experience suggested a different (and often more subtle) approach would be more effective. I am very happy to have worked with Sam, would gladly work with him again, and wholeheartedly recommend him.” –Gene Alexander, PhD, Chief Technical Officer, Body Surface Translations, Inc. Yu and his wife, Jenny, have two boys, ages five and three. He is an active member of Sa-Rang Community Church in Anaheim and participates in church outreach programs. He is also a member of the Orange County Korean American Bar Association. He enjoys basketball, golf, and snowboarding when time permits. “I trust my gut and push for the right outcome. Experience has taught me to trust my instincts and explore all avenues to achieve a good outcome for my clients,” Yu says. n

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COMMUNITY news  Jeff Greenman, Founder

of Greenman Law P.C., a plaintiffs-only firm in Aliso Viejo, has been named to the 2018 Super Lawyers Rising Stars List. Greenman earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Washington before earning his J.D. from JEFF GREENMAN Chapman University School of Law in 2006. Prior to opening his personal injury firm, Greenman worked at Carney Shegarian, and AlderLaw. Rising Stars is a listing of lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. To be eligible for inclusion, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research and peer nominations.

 Neyleen S. Ortiz-Beljajev,

Founder of Beljajev Law Group, PC in Seal Beach, has been named to the 2018 Orange County Super Lawyers Rising Stars list for the fourth consecutive year. As one of 25 attorneys named to this NEYLEEN ORTIZprestigious list, Neyleen also BELJAJEV maintains a perfect 10.0 Superb Rating on Avvo. She has served as the Chairperson for the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division’s Women in the Profession Committee, its largest committee, raising awareness of issues surrounding young female attorneys, creating a support system and providing genderspecific programs for its members. She has served as the Public Service Chairperson for the Long Beach Bar Association, Barristers Committee, where she organized events and fundraisers to promote a cleaner environment and to support children and families in need. She has been a member of the Scholarship Committee for the Long Beach Bar Association since 2011, where she assists in interviewing and awarding scholarships to the brightest and most promising college-bound students within the city. She also created a mentorship program through the Long Beach Bar Association where experienced attorneys are paired with new attorneys for career development advice and to help transition from law school’s theoretical focus to the real world practical implementation. 12

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 148, 2018

 Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP, a preeminent

full-service law firm focused on real estate, is proud to announce that Sean Matsler has joined the firm as its newest land use partner. Matsler brings 15 years of experience securing entitlements for myriad real estate clients to bolster the firm’s robust land use practice, a group that earned the 2018 National Tier 1 Law Firm of the Year for Land Use and Zoning Law in the 2018 U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” rankings.


 Matthew Easton, partner at Easton & Easton,

LLP in Costa Mesa, has been named to the 2018 Orange County Super Lawyers Rising Star List. Easton was also recently chosen as one of the Best Lawyers in America for Plaintiff’s Personal Injury and Product Liability Litigation in 2018. Best Lawyers selects attorneys who have earned peer recognition through exemplary legal work that attracts the notice of their colleagues. Matt was MATTHEW EASTON also featured among Southern California’s “Best Lawyers” in 2017 in the Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times Magazine. Additionally, he has been chosen each year since 2014 for the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 in California. Matt has also been selected each year since 2015 for the American Academy of Trial Attorneys’ Premier 100 Trial Attorneys, the American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys “10 Best” Attorneys for California, the National Academy of Personal Injury Attorneys’ Top 10 Under 40, and for the highest AV Preeminent rating offered by Martindale-Hubbell, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious peer rating service for legal ability and ethics.

 John Michael Montevideo, Founder and

Lead Trial Attorney of Montevideo Law, PC dba Dog Bite Law Group, has again been named to the 2018 Orange County Super Lawyers Rising Stars list. As an Orange County native, Montevideo has previously been named to the Top 25 in Orange County and Top 100 in Southern California Super Lawyer Rising Star in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. JOHN MICHAEL In addition, Montevideo is a National Trial MONTEVIDEO Lawyer Top 40 under 40 and is a Graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College. He is an active member in the local Orange County and state-wide California legal community as a Board of Director for Orange County Trial Lawyers Association (OCTLA), a Board of Governor of Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) and an Associate Board Member of Project Youth Orange County Bar Foundation (OCBF). Admitted to practice in Washington D.C., and before the Supreme Court, in addition to California, Montevideo’s practice is based in Irvine.

 Wesley K. Polischuk, attorney at Robinson Calcagnie,

Inc., has been named to the 2018 Orange County Super Lawyers Rising Stars list. Polischuk represents plaintiffs in product liability, pharmaceutical, medical device and personal injury cases, in addition to class action litigation involving fraud, misrepresentation, consumer and data privacy and other consumer protection. Polischuk has been named to this exclusive list each year since 2013. He is a member of the American Association for Justice, WESLEY K. POLISCHUK Consumer Attorneys of California and the Orange County Trial Lawyers Association. The selection process for the Rising Stars list is the same as the Super Lawyers selection process, with one exception: to be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less. All attorneys first go through the Super Lawyers selection process. Those who are not selected to the Super Lawyers list, but who meet either one of the Rising Stars eligibility requirements, go through the Rising Stars selection process. While up to five percent of the lawyers in the state are named to Super Lawyers, no more than 2.5 percent are named to the Rising Stars list.

 Jennifer Keller has been named to the list of “Top

Women Lawyers of 2018,” as selected by the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals. This is the ninth time Keller has been selected for the Top Women Lawyers award. Keller tries complex business and white collar criminal cases. Her firm, Keller/Anderle LLP, is consistently recognized as one of the premier boutique trial law firms in the state (e.g., Daily Journal “Top Boutiques” and U.S. News - Best Lawyers®’ 2018 “Best Law Firms” JENNIFER KELLER Commercial Litigation Tier 1 ranking in Orange County). She resides in Corona del Mar. The Daily Journal list is devoted to honoring excellent lawyering and leadership skills among women attorneys in California, seeking to recognize work that is having a broad impact on the community, nation and society. The Daily Journal honor is one of the most coveted in the state and features mainly lawyers from some of the state’s and nation’s largest firms.

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Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 148, 2018


How Meditation Helped My Law Practice And Why I Think It Could Help Yours


By Claire E. Parsons

ast year, I made equity partner at my Firm. In this blog, I have promised to tell some of the tips that I picked up along the way to share with other women lawyers who may have the same goal. I have been meditating consistently for a few years now but my plan for this year was to log at least 50 hours of meditation for 2018. That may sound like a lot, but it is only .005% of the 8,700 hours in a year. Yet, even though I only spend a small fraction of my day meditating, I believe it is one of the practices in my life that helped me progress from associate to partner level. I’m not a meditation teacher so this isn’t a tutorial, although I will happily share resources I use and love with anyone who requests them. In addition, I’m not a scientist so I won’t recount the various studies demonstrating the positive effects meditation can have. Just do a quick Google search and you will find them. Rather, as a trial lawyer, I consider myself a storyteller in many ways, so I will just tell you my story and let you decide for yourself. I am not now and never have been a champion meditator. Though convinced of its benefits, there are many days I fail to meditate. I am not naturally suited to meditation since I am more intense than calm and more of a thinker than a feeler. My 14

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 148, 2018

own route to meditation was accidental and indirect. I learned about meditation from a book on Buddhism that I bought out of sheer curiosity. Persuaded by the concepts and even more curious after reading it, I bought a meditation cushion online and tried it out a few times but never did it consistently. Then, a few years into my practice as a litigation associate, I finally tried meditating daily. At the time, I was about to go to trial on a big case, I had a young daughter who seemed to always be getting sick, and I was so busy that I would finish a project and struggle to decide what to do next. It felt like things were swirling around me and I couldn’t keep up. Amid all of this, I needed something to anchor me and somehow it occurred to me to try meditation. Initially, I started with periods of two minutes, but over the course of weeks, worked up to sessions in the 15- to 30-minute range. I did not immediately become calmer and better, but I did make it through the trial and a lot of other things. Almost immediately, however, I noticed that meditation had beneficial effects. I struggle with neck pain and headaches and found that they would usually abate or go away altogether after sitting for as little as ten minutes. Until then, I had not realized that my

headaches were so tied to stress. As time went on, I started to see that my temper was not quite as quick and that I more frequently reacted to setbacks with strategy instead of outrage or anger. After a lot more time, I found myself doing a better job of noticing and properly respecting the feelings of my coworkers, friends and family. All these things combined to help me take the risks and responsibility necessary to move from being an associate to a partner. There are many reasons why meditation worked for me and why I think it could help a lot of other attorneys. Stress, by far, is one of the most challenging parts of being a lawyer. As a litigator, I experience this nearly every day from the adversarial nature of litigation, tight deadlines, and ever-increasing client demands. Sitting quietly for a few minutes a day obviously didn’t make those situations any easier, but it helped me deal with them. For one thing, meditation is a calming practice. Practice makes perfect, right? So, if you want to be calm, or calmer at least, practice sure helps. Beyond that, the practice of mindfulness meditation is to focus on one’s breath and to keep returning to your breath when your mind (inevitably) wanders. This practice trains you to pay attention to your body, rather than just your thoughts. I’ve seen why this matters in two different ways. First, you start to notice symptoms of stress that manifest in your body. After I began meditation, I noticed I rushed quite a lot even when I wasn’t late. I tried to be intentional about not rushing and eventually felt less rushed and, hence, much more at ease. I also noticed in stressful meetings that I would clench my jaw when things got tense. I tried instead to focus on my breath for a moment and relax my facial muscles and things suddenly didn’t seem so heavy. Now, imagine being in a tense mediation or at a critical court hearing and you start to notice your face feeling flushed and your heart beating heavily. It is situations just like those when the skills practiced in meditation can kick in to help keep you on a track of peak performance. The other reason I think meditation helps so much is that it gets you out of the cycle of constant thinking. As they should, law schools tend to praise and demand rational thinking. But rational thinking is not the only skill a lawyer needs to succeed in law practice. It must also be bolstered by intuition, compassion, courage and a host of other attributes. Meditation allows these other essential attributes to flourish because the practice involves paying attention to feelings as they manifest to see how powerful—even if temporary—they can be. Sometimes, understanding and recognizing feelings can be the difference between a good result for your client and a bad one. I saw this play out in a settlement discussion that was salvaged, in part, because I saw that emotions were affecting the discussion and took action to acknowledge it. Both sides were emailing back and forth to no avail and it was apparent neither really understood the other. I recognized that any further emails would forever end the prospects of a resolution and instead called the opposing attorney, apologized for any misunderstanding, listened to their side, and explained our own

frustration. If I had not been meditating at that time, I think it is more likely that I would have told myself that opposing counsel was being unreasonable and let the settlement talks die. But by reaching out and acknowledging how we all felt, I was able to help move the discussion forward to get a much better result for my client. If this sounds far-fetched, consider meditation functionally and it isn’t so hard to understand. Meditation is a form of rest and a way to relax. In fact, I often use meditation in short bursts during my day to take a quick rest while transitioning between projects. I have found that a 0.1 or 0.2-hour meditation can help me re-focus, so I can stay productive and bill more time than I otherwise would have. For example, brief meditation sessions in my car between meetings got me through a 12-hour day filled with 7 hours of trial preparation, 2 hours at a bar function, and a 3-hour board meeting with surprisingly little crankiness. Sure, a restful lunch or a walk in the park could have achieved similar results. But that day, I didn’t have time for a walk in the park or anything other than a hurried lunch, but I did have time to meditate and it saved the day. That’s the thing about meditation: you can do it anywhere, so it allows you to rest when you can, so you can focus when you must. Much like any other skill, however, meditation only works on demand if you keep it sharp. As such, daily practice, even if in small increments, is essential. Let’s be real. I’m not telling you that you must meditate to make partner or to advance your career. But I am saying that at some point any sustainable law practice will include some method to efficiently rest and recharge. Mindfulness meditation is a great option for lawyers because it is cheap, simple (I won’t say easy), always with you, infinitely scalable, and, in my experience, provides ample returns on the time invested. In addition, now is a great time to try it because there are so many resources, many of which are free, to teach, assist, and even remind you if you choose to give meditation a try. Whether you want to jump on the meditation train or not, I hope you will accept the most fundamental lesson I learned from it. With meditation, the object is to focus on the breath. Without fail, though, your mind will wander. Your job as the meditator is to—without judgment or beating yourself up— just go back to focusing on the breath. Whether you choose to start 2018 by meditating or not, I hope that you remember this about your goals for the year. You will try, and you may fail but you will eventually succeed if every time you fail you return your attention back to your goal. n Claire E. Parsons practices in the firm’s Government Practice and Commercial Litigation practice groups. She focuses her practice on Civil Rights Litigation, Employment Law, School Law, Special Education and Domestic Relations. This article was first published on Ms. JD with the Writers in Residence program. To learn more about Claire E. Parsons, please visit:

Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 148, 2018


Occupying the

Leading Edge With Innovative Style, Proven Strategies, and Lasting Relationships By Dan Baldwin


adison Law, APC, has shown remarkable growth and has developed the knowledge, expertise, and resources to handle a wide range of legal challenges for local, regional, national and even international clients, including pioneering and establishing a firm position on the leading edge of a niche practice area. Madison Law was founded as a full-service legal firm with the help of three seasoned directors. It is now the “go-to” firm in serving clients with a unique consumer defense problem that is currently plaguing auto dealer and auto finance companies. Ali Parvaneh, James S. Sifers and Jenos Firouznam-Heidari began with the goal of providing services to businesses, but, as Firouznam-Heidari says, they soon found themselves dedicated to serving business people. “Our clients are our friends. They may often own or operate businesses, but they face personal legal issues as well. For that reason, we evolved to suit most of our clients’ legal needs. We value our friendships and long-lasting relationships with our clients.” In addition to the issues typically affecting businesses, such as consumer complaints, partnership disputes, and transactional matters, the firm evolved to suit a growing list of client needs—developing departments equipped to handle real estate, business, bankruptcy, family law, employment law, and personal injury matters. Madison Law also works closely with estate planning, immigration, and criminal attorneys to provide clients with a full array of services. The firm has 13 attorneys and a staff of 12.

On the Leading Edge of Consumer Defense Prior to starting Madison Law, Parvaneh, Sifers, and Firouznam-Heidari were involved in another firm, where they received a referral from a longtime client of Parvaneh’s for a business being targeted by a consumer attorney who wanted them to pay for cases in which these attorneys could find no wrongdoing. The attorneys at Madison Law dug in and successfully defended those cases. Their success quickly created a buzz within the auto dealer and finance industry which brought new clients pouring into their law firm. 16

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Ali Parvaneh - Managing Director

This area of practice focuses on representing auto dealerships and auto finance companies in consumer litigation. This area of the law only has a handful of cases that guide the few attorneys in this narrow practice area. Madison Law is the leading defense firm in the field. Sifers was the lead trial attorney and Firouznam-Heidari the appellate attorney on a leading case in the field addressing a key issue in consumer litigation. (Benson v. Southern California Auto Sales, Inc., (2015) 239 Cal. App. 4th 1198.) Firouznam-Heidari says, “In this practice area there are only two categories when it comes to defense representation: Us and Not Us. In Orange County we are pretty much it. We pretty much wrote the playbook on this specialized area.” The firm’s clients in this area are generally small to mid-size auto dealerships and auto finance companies. The firm has developed such an enviable reputation in this area that Sifers is a regular contributor to West Coast Dealer Magazine,


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advising dealers on compliance with California law. Aside from helping clients’ claims, Madison Law holds free seminars at least once a year for dealers to discuss how to conduct their business with an eye towards compliance and avoiding litigation. Sifers also personally visits the firm’s dealership clients regularly to audit their forms and practices and educate their personnel. To better serve those niche clients the firm organized a dedicated department and developed a reasonable fee structure. They can handle litigation of hundreds of cases at a time at an effective cost to each client. Their approach allows the client to afford to fight and defend itself rather than feel forced to have to settle for an unjustly high amount only to then be repeatedly targeted by the same consumer attorneys. Madison Law is equally effective in more traditional areas of practice even when out-of-the-box thinking is required to assure a successful conclusion. For example, in an ongoing case which started out as an LLC ownership dispute, investigation of the plaintiff’s claims led to the discovery of family court documents in a long-concluded divorce. This led the firm to reach out to the plaintiff’s wife to inform her that her ex-husband failed to disclose assets in the divorce proceedings. One of those assets was the LLC at issue in the business dispute and the funds used to acquire an interest in the LLC. The family law judgment was set aside, and these attorneys litigated the matter to a very substantial judgment for their client, the ex-wife, who would have otherwise never known that she had been cheated. Additionally, due in large part to discovery of documents related to the divorce matter, the business dispute resolved in favor of the defendant, the former client in that matter. While the family law judgment has been appealed and is currently pending the Court of Appeal’s decision, reversal is unlikely. The Madison Law appellate department is currently handling this stage of the case. The way the case transpired is a perfect example of creativity, the ability to pay close attention to the smallest detail, and the power of focused teamwork.

The firm has earned a reputation for accountability and responsiveness to client needs by making sure that the client is always “in the loop” on the progress of a case. Sifers notes that clients never see their attorneys writing motions, arguing the hearings they don’t attend, holding strategy meetings and doing hundreds of behind-the-scenes tasks. “Their only connection to the case is what you tell them. The biggest complaint I hear about other attorneys is not returning calls/emails. We’re not only responsive, we’re responsive fast. These cases are our business, but for our clients, it is often their lives,” he says. Their high level of competence and individualized service was noted by a satisfied client who wrote, “My company was sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars by a former employee for discrimination and wage and hour claims. The attorneys at Madison Law handled my defense of the lawsuit in a professional and efficient manner—all the way through trial. I was very impressed by the service I received and very

Jenos F. Heidari - Director

pleased when the jury returned a verdict in my favor. Thanks!” Their client-centric approach and willingness to extend themselves to exceed client needs has built enormous trust and loyalty. For example, a client facing a criminal issue knew that Madison Law is not primarily a criminal defense firm. When they recommended another firm to handle the case, the client insisted that they sit as second chair to the criminal attorney. The attorneys say that there is no defendant too big and no opposing counsel too big for them to take on. They have the resources and the financial strength to hire the necessary experts and handle whatever it takes to serve a client’s case needs. And they aren’t afraid to go to trial. Parvaneh is a board-certified trial specialist. “He is the best I’ve ever seen,” Firouznam-Heidari says. “Our clients are not just represented by one attorney, but by many, each with different strengths and perspectives. Often, different aspects of a case require different skill sets. We are organized to apply the proper skill set as it becomes necessary

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James S. Sifers - Director

by working as a team—this isn’t a one-man show,” Firouznam-Heidari says. Sifers says, “We’ve all known each other and have worked closely for quite a long time now. We all understand each of us brings something very different to the table. Our skills and our personalities are different, but when we come together we make a solid team. For example, I am known for enjoying a ‘good fight’ in the legal arena. Jenos is more settlement oriented. Our different approaches provide a well-rounded, balanced approach for our clients.”

Hands-Off Leadership Management’s approach to their attorneys is basically hands-off initially— allowing the associates to strategize their own cases with the supervision of


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a senior litigator. The directors do get involved with cases and provide guidance as needed, but they want, encourage and allow attorneys to think and litigate their own cases because, as Sifers says, they want the attorneys to join them in management someday. Sifers says managing the support staff requires a similar approach. “We intend to allow these people to grow and continue to take over more and more of the administration so that we can focus on doing the best legal work possible.” FirouznamHeidari adds, “We manage the staff in a way that gives them authority and responsibility. They do their job well so we’re able to focus on the law.” That environment has attracted the attention and the business referrals from other firms. Madison Law is generous with referral fees. Beyond that, they take extraordinary steps to ensure that the referred client is well cared for and is happy with the services received. In many instances, they have had an opposing counsel in prior cases refer clients to the firm. They have even had prior opposing counsel ask for personal representation in a matter. Ninety percent of the firm’s business litigation cases are referrals. Sifers says, “Networking and who you know is great. That’s going to always bring in the business. But how you sustain business is by working hard and doing good work. That builds career-long relationships that just continue to grow. The better you do for any one client can only lead to that person telling their friends and family the next time they hear about a legal problem. We are largely a referral-based firm and rapidly growing.” Firouznam-Hiedari says, “If you really love it, you’ll probably ultimately be very good at it. I think all three of us really love what we do and that allows us to do it very well.” n Contact Madison Law, APC 17702 Mitchell North Irvine, CA 92614 (949) 756-9050

The Eye-Popping Fear that Keeps Prospects and Clients from Calling You by Trey Ryder


our prospect has a problem. He doesn’t know what to do. He’s concerned. He’s afraid. He needs a lawyer. Will he call you? Maybe. Maybe not. Your prospect is afraid of a problem he doesn’t understand. Plus, he’s afraid of a marketplace he has learned not to trust. But here’s a bigger problem: He’s even more afraid of you. I call this “phone-call fear,” and define it as your prospect’s fear of calling your office based on what he thinks might happen when he calls. Notice that phone-call fear is not based on what will happen, because your prospect doesn’t know that. It is based only on what your prospect is afraid might happen, based on his experience with lawyers and his perceptions about lawyers. What’s he afraid of? Lots of things, including the following: • He’s afraid you may refuse to talk with him over the telephone. • He’s afraid you may try to pressure him into making an appointment. • He’s afraid you may charge him for the phone call. • He’s afraid you may not handle his type of problem. • He’s afraid you may not have time to help him. • He’s afraid you may charge more than he can afford. What else? (You can probably add several fears to this list.) Even though prospects need your help, phone-call fear often keeps prospects from calling you. So, how do you overcome phonecall fear? Simple. In your marketing materials and on your website, make sure your prospects know: • You welcome their calls. • You’ll gladly talk with them over the telephone or in person, without charge. • You’ll return their calls promptly, if you aren’t available when they call. • You won’t pressure them in any way.


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In addition, you can offer to help prospects even if they aren’t ready to speak with you: • You can offer a free fact kit, which you will mail or email to them upon request. • You can offer information about yourself and your firm, such as your biography and the services you offer. • You can offer educational seminars, where they can meet and talk with you in person, without the perceived pressure of an office appointment. • You can offer to add their name to your mailing list, so they receive your newsletter, invitations to seminars, news in your area of law, announcements and more. • You can offer your Internet Website, which they can visit for more information. As a lawyer, every day you fight an uphill battle of negative perceptions about the legal profession. Since your prospect doesn’t know you, he could assume that “you’re as bad as all the rest.” The burden is on you to show that you rise above the negative perceptions—and that you’ll do everything you can to help. The first way you demonstrate this is by providing information about you and your practice—and by giving your prospects ways to get to know you at whatever speed they feel comfortable. The more information you provide, and the more ways you invite prospects to learn about you, the more comfortable they will be with the process. Addendum: After a CLE seminar, in which I explained prospects’ phone-call fear, the next speaker (a lawyer) came to the podium. He seconded what I said, then added that prospects aren’t the only people who are afraid to call him. He discovered that even his clients are afraid to call. So don’t conclude phone-call fear affects only your prospects. It could hinder communication with your clients, as well. Make sure prospects and clients know that you welcome their calls. Also, make sure they know that if you can’t help them with their problem, you’ll gladly refer them to a competent lawyer who can. n Trey Ryder specializes in Education-Based Marketing for Lawyers. He designs dignified marketing programs for lawyers and law firms in the United States, Canada and other English-speaking countries. Trey works from his offices in Payson, Arizona and Juneau, Alaska. To read more of Trey’s articles, visit the Lawyer Marketing Advisor at

The Federal False Claims Act Process is Complex Don’t let your client’s case be lost due to hyper-technical procedural mistakes

At Stephen Danz & Associates, our whistleblower attorneys and co-counsel, some with former government-false-claims positions, are experienced federal and California False Claims Act attorneys. We have obtained substantial recoveries for our clients because we understand the laws, the underlying types of fraud, and how to properly present a fraud disclosure claim to the government. We’ve been litigating FCA cases for 30 years, are active participants in the major qui tam attorney organizations, and regularly share expertise with other practitioners. Our co-counsel have extensive experience as former governmentfalse-claims prosecutors, so we know what aspects of the case to focus on to encourage the government to intervene.

Our firm also focuses on:

Wrongful Termination and Retaliation claims

Newest Co-Counsel: Hirst Law Group, P.C. For many years, Mr. Hirst supervised FCA cases for a U.S. Attorney’s Office in California, for which he received a DOJ Director’s Award from Attorney General Janet Reno. Later described by Attorney General John Ashcroft as an “exceptional litigator” and recognized by the Chief of the Forest Service for his “brilliant performance at trial,” Mr. Hirst’s FCA cases have been reported in numerous publications throughout the country and the subject of three books, one of which detailed his handling of a case that resulted in the largest fraud recovery against a single hospital in US history.

Some of the specific types of fraud that can result in substantial recoveries and rewards for whistleblowers are:

✰ Overbilling or billing for services never rendered ✰ Making misrepresentations to support bills for services or goods that were provided ✰ Improperly upcoding for services or goods ✰ Providing unnecessary treatments ✰ Obtaining kickbacks for making referrals ✰ Falsifying credentials ✰ Off-label marketing ✰ Fraud from other business sectors: Securities, Financial services, Aerospace and Defense GENEROUS REFERRAL FEES PAID PER STATE BAR RULES


Hirst Law Group, P.C., has had multiple 8-figure- and 7-figure-FCA recoveries in cases involving health care fraud, defense procurement fraud, grant fraud, and others.


Unlocking the Talents of the Millennial Lawyer by JP Box

“What can I do to convince you to stay?” So asked a senior partner during a long lunch in which he employed every trick of the Socratic method to try to make me reconsider leaving his firm. You see, a few hours earlier, I had just delivered notice of my imminent move to a new firm. Like many partners in law firms across the county, he was exasperated by the revolving door of talented young associates coming in and out of the firm. At the time, I did not have great answers to his questions. I was simply following an instinct that pushed me on my journey. All told, I practiced law for six years at a large international firm in Washington, DC; a large regional firm in Denver, Colorado; and a small regional firm in Denver. At each stop, I quickly earned the trust of partners, the confidence of clients and a generous paycheck, along with yearly bonuses. But I pulled the plug on each firm after roughly two years of employment. I broke the news to partners who had made me integral parts of their teams, and I struggled to articulate why I had not found a lasting niche at their firms. Eventually, I walked into an entirely new career path, co-founding a merino wool kid’s apparel company called Chasing Windmills. Nonetheless, I remained haunted by those questions from disappointed partners who wanted to understand how to hold onto promising young associates. After investing so much time and energy into becoming a lawyer, I needed to answer those questions, at least for myself. Pondering those questions led me to a surprising revelation: my story as the successful-but-unfulfilled young associate was not especially unique. Rather, my experiences as a job-hopping young lawyer shared numerous commonalities with the growing millennial population (those born as early as 1981). As I dove into the social sciences and consulting studies analyzing the millennial generation, I quickly realized that the tensions mounting in law firms across the country could be traced, in large part, to generational misunderstandings. This awareness led me to a second career rebirth as a millennial authority, with a knack for explaining how law firms can 24

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connect with, motivate and retain top young attorneys. Consistent with my experiences, the average tenure of a millennial in a new job is less than three years. A millennial employee will leave a law firm, not just when he or she is unhappy, but when he or she is not happy enough. While Boomer and Gen X lawyers patiently “paid their dues,” millennial lawyers are not hesitant to vote with their feet and try a new firm—or even a new career. According to a 2016 study, four of 10 lawyers plan to walk away from their current firms within the year. This turnover drains significant resources and money from law firms across the country. According to Thomson West, firms spend $1 billion every year to recruit and train attorneys. Due to escalating associate turnover, the average big law firm loses an estimated $25 million each year. The good news, however, is that this story can be rewritten. Law firms can inspire and retain their young attorneys while remaining highly productive. Boomer and Gen X partners can work harmoniously with their younger millennial colleagues to the benefit of clients. Inspiring the next generation of attorneys does not require every firm to spend big money re-making their offices into Google-like utopias with company bikes, on-site cafes, volleyball courts and other amenities. Rather, if your firm is serious about unlocking the talents and work ethic of its millennial attorneys, then your firm must first understand the millennial mindset.

Who Are Millennials? Millennials are young adults born as early as 1981 and as late as 1997. As a group, they are socially conscious, confident, collaborative and diverse. They seek to blend work and life together; show an eagerness to contribute immediately; value mentorship and transparency; opt for great experiences over high pay and believe in doing well by doing good. In 2015, millennials became the largest working group in the United States. By 2020, millennials are expected to make

up 46% of the US workforce, and by 2025, millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce. Gen Xers (born 1965 to 1980) and Boomers (born 1946 to 1964) have experienced varying levels of stress and difficulty in integrating the rapidly growing millennial generation into their professions. It is not uncommon to hear laments such as, “Associates today just don’t want to work hard,” or “millennials don’t commit. Millennials don’t focus.” And on and on and on. These complaints reveal the frustration felt by many Gen X and Boomer colleagues whose attempts to motivate their younger employees seem to backfire. However, the underlying disconnect is reparable. Gen Xers and Boomers can unlock the talents and work ethic of their millennial colleagues by simply understanding the millennial mindset—that is, by understanding the generational trends indicating what motivates and inspires a young person’s best and most committed work.

What Are the Key Pillars of the Millennial Mindset? First, forget work-life balance and embrace work-life blend. Law firm marketing materials abound with promises of “worklife balance.” This corporate buzzword denotes serious hardworking professionals who also have a life outside of work. However, by promoting work-life balance, law firms risk alienating their millennial associates. Today’s young employees are seeking work-life blend, in which work is an inspiring and enhancing aspect of life—not a weight to be balanced against life. As Michelle Silverthorn, diversity and education director at the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, said: “For millennial lawyers, work and life are intertwined. It’s not about balancing two heavy loads on a see-saw, work on one side, life on the other. Rather, it’s about putting two complex puzzle pieces together and making sure they fit together permanently.” Instead of merely seeking “balance,” today’s young associates expect their profession to be an important component of their lives. Work-life blend includes a willingness to rethink when and where work occurs. The vast majority of millennials desire more autonomy in setting the location and hours of their work— whether that is in their individual offices early in the morning, a communal work area at your law firm (such as the law library), at a coffee shop, or even at home from time to time. Importantly, work-life blend does not mean short-changing work or cutting back on overall hours. Rather, this system allows attorneys to access their most productive selves at their peak performance time and location. Of course, law firms must adhere to some boundaries in a blended work-life environment, especially to ensure the

necessary collaboration between partners, associates, and staff. However, if firms are to benefit from a motivated and productive workforce, it is imperative to loosen the rigidity of the standard 9-5 workday. By blending work and life together, firms empower their employees to meet their professional and personal obligations on a continuous flexible spectrum.

Empower your associates to contribute immediately. Millennials are arguably the most confident generation in history. Over three-quarters of millennials believe that “At this time of my life, it still seems like anything is possible.” On the flip-side, only one-quarter of millennials believe their employer makes full use of their skills. Often, employers interpret this confidence as the classic case of the “entitled millennial” (or worse). By recasting “entitlement” as “confidence,” however, law firms can position themselves to take advantage of an eager stable of young attorneys who are excited to make real contributions early in their careers. Of course, this eagerness places more pressure on law firms to train and accelerate their young attorney’s career development. But isn’t that why you hired those smart young attorneys in the first place? In the words of a partner who clearly saw this confident desire to contribute: “JP, I like my job, but I like it even better when you can do it for me.”

Mentor, mentor, mentor! Millennials can be a paradox. The most confident generation also wants unprecedented levels of mentorship to help train and chart the course of their careers. Millennials seek autonomy but not necessarily independence. Simply put, millennials want to learn from their more senior colleagues. As a generation, millennials grew up receiving ongoing feedback from parents, teachers, and coaches. They have literally been trained to process mentorship and adjust their performance accordingly. Not surprisingly then, 90% of millennials would like to have regular check-ins with their superiors. If your firm’s partners embrace their roles as mentors, they just may be surprised at the receptiveness and coach-ability of today’s young attorneys.

Focus on improving the law firm experience, not just the financial rewards. In study after study, millennials report that they want a meaningful and fulfilling career that makes a difference in the world. For example, three-quarters of millennials say that “it is more important to enjoy their work than to make a lot of money.” Of course, law firms must pay their young associates competitive salaries; however, a big salary alone is no longer Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 148, 2018


an effective carrot to ensure years of loyal service from a millennial associate. Consequently, law firms’ historic motivators—for example, billable hour bonuses and the prospect of partnership years down the road—often fail as consistent motivators for this generation. Instead, law firms must focus on the experience of practicing law. For starters, firms can promote collegiality and collaboration at their law firms. As The Washington Lawyer pointed out, “Thanks to millennials, the notion that an office can be both a workplace and a social center is becoming de rigueur even in law firms.” Furthermore, instead of seeking to inspire hard work through the business of law (such as trying to motivate hard work with billable hour bonuses), law firms can inspire consistent and committed effort by refocusing on the noble practice of law. At its best, our profession is a model of selfless service to others. Nearly nine out of 10 millennials desire “a career that does some good in the world.” As lawyers who represent others’ interests daily, we have an incredible opportunity to focus on our profession’s contributions to society. And, if we do so, the youngest generation of lawyers will be ready to throw themselves into their work.


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The Millennial Opportunity The future of the legal profession is bright, especially for those firms willing to pivot in the direction of the country’s largest working generation. Increasingly, millennials will be your colleagues and clients. Cracking the millennial code is not a luxury, but a necessity, for those firms that will excel in the newly emerging legal marketplace. n JP Box is a lawyer-turned-entrepreneur and author. After graduating from Georgetown, he practiced law for six years in Washington, DC, and Denver, Colorado. He left the practice of law to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors, including a consulting practice focused on helping law firms understand the millennial mindset to unlock the talents of a new generation of attorneys. He is the author of the book, “The Millennial Lawyer: How Your Firm Can Motivate and Retain Young Associates,” (ABA 2018). For more information, please visit www. ©2018. Published in Law Practice Today, April 2018, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.

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Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 148, 2018



“MORE” SEO SPECIALISTS Share Their Best Tips for Lawyers by Chris Dreyer



his is the question we posed to more than 50 SEO specialists who have done SEO for lawyers. Their answers will provide you with good direction whether you’re formulating your own law firm SEO strategies or just looking for general advice. If you want to improve your own website rankings or your clients’ website listings in the search engines, then this expert Q&A roundup is what you’re looking for. Enjoy and share it with others. Thank you!



I’ve implemented SEO on law sites both nationwide and worldwide since 1995. You might think that my #1 SEO tip might have changed in these past 20+ years. But unfortunately, my tip is the same now as it was in 1995. Attorneys are notorious for writing and speaking in “legalese” (legal jargon). I understand that if they are marketing their law-firm website to other law-firm websites, it’s okay to write and speak in legal jargon. However, if a law firm is targeting users who don’t understand legal jargon, then guess what? Lose the legal jargon…or use it in combination with the users’ keyword phrases. As we often say in the usability/UX industry, “Use the users’ language.” Lawyers have to be careful when conducting keyword research. If they encounter “legalese” in the keyword research tools, they should understand that those specific queries are likely ones that other attorneys are doing. Use that data for legal-specific pages. One example might be a family attorney. His or her target audience is unlikely to use the keyword phrase “spousal support” when conducting a search in the US. “Alimony” (without the quotes) is a more likely search term. Therefore, a family-attorney website should use BOTH terms on specific pages. Use the users’ language … but also inform 28

them of what the legal term means. Another example might be a corporate attorney. His or her target audience is likely to use some business jargon. This website should include business jargon in the right context on the website. I’m certainly not saying that attorneys should never use legal keyword phrases on their websites. Use the RIGHT words in the RIGHT context. Use the users’ language on your websites. The result? More search engine traffic, more trust, and more conversions.

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I’d say the most important gap in most law firms’ SEO strategy that I see is content. Law firms either try to fit all of their practice areas onto a single page instead of breaking the practice areas out into their own landing pages, or they have a single practice area with only one page of content dedicated to it. Instead, they should consistently create new content with the help of their attorney experts.



My #1 tip is to lean heavy into content. The deeper and richer your content is, the more change you have to rank for short-tail and long-tail keywords alike. Law is one of the most competitive spaces out there for SEO, so doing bare minimum optimizations only keeps you treading water. As a lawyer, you have an opportunity to write in-depth, expert content about your areas of practice. While we generally advise 400 words minimum for most

businesses, a lawyer should be looking at 1000+ words per page if possible, with a user-friendly layout and enticing CTAs throughout.



The trick to getting great results from SEO in 2018 is to think outside of the standard “content” box. Most people look and fight for easy to think of topics and keywords because they can’t imagine how wide their net can be for catching potential customers. Instead of just using content ideas that are tightly associated with your main topic, you must “go wide” with your research. People who might be interested in your products or services have lots of different problems and interests. And it is up to you to explore them and see which ones are relevant to your business. Then you can write SEO optimized content to bring them to your website and slowly nurture them into customers.



First, I do a lot of legal marketing, especially with our own law firm located at My wife and motherin-law are both immigration attorneys and so I’ve “seen it all” in respect to most legal marketing methods. By far the most effective strategy that has worked for the firm has been using Avvo, especially in select verticals like immigration, personal injury, and bankruptcy, dominate Google local search results. These high local placements lead to a large amount of traffic to specialty referral pages on Avvo that local attorneys can leverage by buying “blocks” of impressions on those pages. These blocks cover both specialties and geographical areas. The secret for attorneys utilizing this service, especially those paying for placement, is to fully fill out and optimize their profiles. For example, this profile for Attorney Tifany Markee ( html) does very well competitively for three main reasons; she has fully filled out her profile and garnered a coveted 10/10 Avvo Rating, she has 30+ personal and professional referrals ( html#client_reviews), and she has invested time on the Avvo site, contributing 160+ legal answers to the community (www.avvo. com/attorneys/92127-ca-tifany-markee-298534/answers.html).

These optimizations have allowed her, and in turn the firm, to leverage Avvo extremely well and increase both referrals and bottom-line traffic to their site at the same time.



Zero-in on “Near Me” Google Visibility As a legal professional barred to practice law in a single state, there are very real boundaries to consider in SEO and marketing: they are called laws. One way to achieve results in SEO without encroaching on legalities is to geo-target your keywords. If you are a lawyer in Wynwood, Miami (where my SEO agency is located), you serve clients in South Florida, and the focus is on immigration, try employing geographic parameters, such as Immigration Delray Beach Lawyer or Immigration Palm Beach Lawyers or Immigration Key West Lawyer. Make no mistake, I’m not advocating creating hundreds of “keyword stuffed” webpages for immigration lawyer plus every possible city and town in South Florida…unless you want to trigger Panda filters. Rather, a smart marketer who understands how Google’s RankBrain works, can include these keywords in a long-term content strategy focused on geo-focused content and related topics. A webpage with a case study about how the lawyer helped an immigration client in “Delray Beach” or an article covering the specifics of a newsworthy immigration case in Key West—the closest point in US territory to Cuba, actually—might be a good place to start. Through an expanded geographic target, you will have more referrals without a headache of unwanted contact.



Great question. For the past 7-8 years I’ve been doing SEO on one attorney or another, so I suppose I have a lot of experience on this. Before I did SEO, I did a lot of IT work and web design for lawyers. On the other hand, I think my client would be pretty angry with me (maybe even sue) if I gave out the #1 tactic that I’m using on him right now. I will say this: before he hired us, he spent quite a bit of coin on having some videos produced. Having quality content on hand (a knowledge base, steady blog posts, videos, podcasts … even tweets and Instagram posts) can really help propel you into the SERPs. Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 148, 2018


I’ll also say this about attorneys and SEO in general: they all have big budgets and a lot of them are kind of shady, more-so than other industries. Depending on the industry, some of them throw ungodly amounts of money at SEO and local PPC, so if you really want to compete, it helps to work with some of these clients with the bigger budgets.



I think the biggest tip I could give would be to make sure Google My Business has been set up correctly. It’s difficult to get any success without this unless you’re in a very weak SERP.



Build in-content links to your legal domain’s target pages. One way to do that is to create a scholarship program and publish a

page targeted to legal colleges and universities. This would allow you to get links from .edu sites that are still relevant to your brand and can tremendously improve the site’s domain authority. Here are a few ways to get started: • Identify your working budget for the scholarship program (in my experience, the optimal scholarship price that can earn/ build the maximum number of links is $1000). • Spend time prospecting for available scholarship listing sites using Google search operators (edu “scholarship” “legal”). • Expand your list by adding listing pages from other verticals that are still relevant to your industry. • Reach out to them and ask to be included in their pages.



My number one tip would be to build case studies around a firm’s clients. Not only would these case studies be great reading, but they would also connect with the target audience, help to build the site’s topical authority, and help the firm’s consumers. Imagine that the person just charged with an assault charge goes online looking for advice and finds a case study on the very subject/charge they have been given. This is superb for building client trust, and the loved ones of those charged will also be searching for help/case studies. The key is for these case studies to be in-depth. When it comes to talking about the law, we are often looking at potential custodial sentences. People want to read in-depth information when they could end up in prison.



The #1 Tip would be to claim and optimize your Google Business listing for your firm’s key office location(s). We have seen strong local visibility continue to drive consistent cases for law firms, but a firm must also have a strategy for earning new (positive) reviews. Local visibility with a strong reviews rating (4+ Star) is one of the most powerful marketing tools on the web today. n Chris Dreyer is the Founder & CEO of, which provides SEO (search engine optimization) services to lawyers, to help them obtain more clients, cases and revenue. To learn more, visit or email Chris at


Attorney Journal Orange County | Volume 148, 2018



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