“Don’t kiss your clients, but market like you want to.” – WHAT?

Mark Britton of Avvo.com thinks that I should market to my clients in a way that suggests that I want to kiss them.

Um, no.  Lawyer jokes to the contrary aside, we are not sex workers.

I used to advertise with Avvo, and had a moderately favorable opinion of Avvo with some reservations. I feel “nice” about my so-called “Excellent” rating bouncing between 8.3 and 8.6, though I am aware of the preeminent Maryland attorneys who rank lower and purveyors of, in my opinion, vapid and/or dangerous nonsense like Lee Rosen of North Carolina who, despite public disciplinary censure, have a “Superb” rating of 10.0. But I thought that competition with Martindale-Hubbell’s rating system was a good thing.

Avvo lost my favor when I realized just how much damage Avvo was encouraging potential clients to do online by posting, without confidentiality or privilege, intimate details of their cases for every English-speaking opposing counsel, private investigator, detective and prosecutor on the planet to read.  Most of my comments on their comment/question boards were to tell people to shut up and talk to a lawyer privately, particularly in criminal cases.

I believe firmly that marketing to clients “as if I want to kiss them” is unprofessional and beyond creepy. Maybe that works for selling fashion or perfume or fast cards. It is inappropriate for lawyers, even as a metaphor. Clients don’t want to be courted or romanced; they want confidence that the lawyers whom they hire to handle often the least pleasant things in their lives will be effective, competent, diligent and trustworthy. Maybe the “kiss” metaphor works for selling online marketing packages to young, desperate attorneys of weak morals, but in this office the business handshake works just fine.

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