Law Firm Leaders: Don’t Blame Marketing/PR For Bad News About Bad Apples

Bad Apple Eating Away at Profits?

When prospective clients and others do online searches for law firms, what will they find? Well, if they search the firm’s name in the “News” section of Google they’ll find items like new partners, new offices, transactions closed, some litigation victories, rankings information, quotes from partners on major issues (public relations),  blog posts–  and sometimes even Tweets that support breaking news.

But when just one partner breaks the law, or is alleged to have done so, that news item very quickly rises to the top of that search and pushes all that other positive news out of the way.

I’ve been analyzing online law firm news since the early days of the Internet and have seen this happen to law firms EVERY time a partner/associate/staff member gets into trouble. Gone are the days when yesterday’s news was just that and the bad news would disappear like the paper it was printed on.

Unfortunately, these negative news items stick around online for a long time..making managing partners and management committees seethe while their marketing/PR people are asked to make the bad news go away. That’s even more difficult when that bad news is Facebooked, Tweeted and LinkedIn instantly.

Instead of demanding that marketing/PR staff make it go away, which is not something they can do quickly or easily unless they have the keys to Google’s vault, managing partners and executive committees need to look much harder at the associates and partners they hire. And they need to put strict internal policies and investigative tactics in place so that those involved in money laundering, sexual harassment, malpractice and verbal abuse can be detected before severe damage is done to innocent parties and then, the firm’s reputation.

Of course, law firms can’t always catch the bad apples before they begin to rot the reputation of the firm. But I also think that too many law firms still have a business model that allows lawyers to run their own ship.

Many law firm leaders are great about instilling pride in their firm. They constantly talk about the collegial atmosphere, the proud history, the pro bono work and the overall culture. Where some law firms fall down on the job is the assumption that just because someone passed the bar, or went to a prestigious law school or brings in a nice book of business, that they would never do anything unethical or illegal.

Just like the branches of government, law firms need more checks and balances to protect against those whose actions can kill business and destroy a reputation that might have taken two centuries to build.

Law firms of all sizes today face challenges they’ve never faced before: increased competition from BigLaw, boutiques and solos along with continual demands by general counsel to lower their fees, to name a few.

That’s why firms can’t afford to be lax or look the other way when the bad apples,  in the form of partners, associates or staff, start falling from the trees.

Law Firm Marketing Tools And Tips Using the (new) iPad

Here are some apps and ideas for lawyers and law firms that want to harness the power of (the new) iPad to be more efficient and to reach new prospects.

Videotaping Seminars & Speaking Engagements

Videotape your seminars, speaking engagements and other firm events in high definition using the native Camera app. But if you want to shoot, edit and upload all inside of one app, then consider Vimeo, Avid Studio or iMovie. Avid Studio makes it easy to upload clips directly to YouTube and Facebook. The iMovie app has a steeper learning curve than Vimeo and Avid, but it has the best sharing features, allowing you to upload to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook and even CNN’s iReport.

Vimeo is also a great video hosting site alternative for professionals who want to avoid the often-juvenile and ad-filled YouTube channels and pages, but I recommend posting to both for optimal search engine results.

In a crisis, all these video tools can also be used to record and quickly distribute a managing partner’s media statement.

Law Firm Photos & Graphics

Use the built-in Camera app, but for more versatility and precision, use Pro Camera. To edit photos right on the iPad, use either PhotoShop Express or iPhoto for the iPad, but please, do NOT stand in front of law books, law degrees or  staircases when posing! SmugMug (an app and desktop) is a great place to post your photos and is used by many professional photographers. Pinterest is also increasingly being used by businesses to showcase photos and infographics, as well as videos.

Taking Notes–Text and Audio

Notability, Evernote and Penultimate are my three favorite note-taking apps. You can use your fingers for all three (Notability the best for this) or a stylus. Evernote also includes audio recordings. Use Dragon for dictation as the accuracy of this program has vastly improved in recent years.

Staying on top of the news

Try Mr. Reader, an RSS feed that lets you stay on top of all the news by topic, practice, industry, etc. I also like the iPad apps for AP (Associated Press), Reuters Pro, Bloomberg, BBC News, CBS News, CNBC and The Drudge Report, because it has so many news links in one place. Newspapers is a nicely designed app to search for media websites from around the world.

Business Social Media Apps

Instead of Twitter, use Tweetbot, which has a better interface that provides quick access to law firm mentions, messages and retweets.

Flipboard — Great way to use Facebook and Twitter for easy reading and posting.

LinkedIn — The top business app was recently revamped and it’s gorgeous. Now you can even integrate your calendar and see key information on one page with minimal navigation.

Google+ — Great place to create a law firm page that connects back to your website. Use it for posting  links from your website, blogs, photo albums, video channels and more.

Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Pocket Reference — Videos, articles and blog posts from the guy who has redefined sales. He also got me hooked on the phrase “business social media.”


Keynote — Apple’s intuitive and beautiful app for preparing slide presentations, it outdoes Powerpoint. PresenterPro and Present (60 Presentation Tips) will improve your content and stage presence.


OK..this isn’t really for marketing, but to relax before, during or after all your hard work! Check out NPR Music, Aweditorium (great new music, amazing interface), Wolfgang’s Vault  (incredible audio from live concerts for us baby boomers) AOL Radio and Pandora. And if you’re not crazy about iTunes design, try OnCue for your music player.

What are your favorite iPad apps? Please chime in.