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Law Firm Bloggers Are Missing Opportunity to Engage on Policy Issues


Posted in Blogs | Content Marketing | Law Firms

A narrow focus on marketing and search engine optimization is a missed opportunity for law firm bloggers to shape public policy in a way that benefits their clients and their practices.

Several months ago news outlets reported an alarming statistic: The maternal death rate in the United States is worse than any other developed nation. What’s more, between 2000 and 2014, the maternal death rate rose 27 percent in the United States, according to a research report published in the September 2016 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

And then this: Researchers found that while California succeeded in decreasing its numbers, maternal death rates in Texas climbed like no other state in the nation. In Texas in 2010, 72 women died of complications related to pregnancy. By 2012, that number had more-than-doubled to 148.

A “maternal death” is the death of a woman that occurs during her pregnancy, during childbirth, or shortly after childbirth.

None of the articles I read made a connection between the Texas civil justice system and the tragic state of maternal mortality in the state. In fact, to the extent that an explanation was offered, fingers were pointed at the state government’s failure to fund women’s health programs (e.g., Planned Parenthood) and the high number of uninsured Texas residents. Twenty percent of Texas residents lack health insurance. No state other state performs worse.

I recently wrote a longish article on medical malpractice for a Texas law firm, where I learned that Texas has a very aggressive “tort reform” law in place. Under the Texas Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform Act, “pain and suffering” damages against all doctors and health care providers are capped at $250,000 (the cap is $500,000 against health care facilities).

Texas law drastically diminishes the financial incentive to file medical malpractice lawsuits in all but the most egregious cases. “Pain and suffering” awards allow injured plaintiffs to compensate their attorneys, who customarily work on contingent fees. Even in cases of clear malpractice, the indigent, the young and the elderly have difficulty obtaining legal counsel because they will not have suffered significant income losses or incurred medical expenses substantial enough to make litigation against the doctors and insurance companies worthwhile.

The result is that many medical malpractice victims in Texas never have their day in court and are never compensated for their losses. Not surprisingly, medical malpractice insurance rates in Texas are among the lowest in the nation. While the number of malpractice complaints filed with the Texas Medical Board are near an all-time high, the number of medical malpractice lawsuits has been falling for years.

Keep reading / 1441 words

Here’s a Curveball: Newsjumping


Posted in Blogs | Content Marketing | Law Firms

We’re three innings into the World Series tonight. Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber is crushing the Chicago Cubs. Kluber’s struck out eight of the first nine Cubs batters. The man’s curveball is unhittable.
I wonder if some marketer is sending out an email right now. Something like, “Learn how to pitch like Corey Kluber by mastering one simple trick: the curveball. Soon you could be making $8 million a year just like Corey. Follow this link for your first free curveball lesson.”
That’s how it feels sometimes.
Let’s Hear it for Newsjacking
Take, for example, the marketing tactic of “newsjacking,” a strategy that is often touted for law firm content marketers. Newsjacking is so hot it’s got its own website. Newsjacking is so hot that presentations about newsjacking attract their own news coverage. Newsjacking is so hot that the mere mention of the word “newsjacking” causes college-educated adults to thrust their right hand skyward and shout “Hallelujah!” According to newsjacking proponents, all that is necessary for lawyers to perform this trick is to:
identify a trending news topic early,
quickly pump out a blog post with a unique, newsworthy spin, and
sit back and wait for news reporters to come calling and backlinks to start piling up.
That’s a tough pitch to get over the plate. Let me tell you why.
First, most lawyers are busy serving their clients and thus unable to closely monitor the news throughout the day.
Second, flaming hot news items that are simultaneously appropriate for legal bloggers are scarce. Sure, you could pick a newsworthy event such as the World Series and construct a completely synthetic connection between baseball and your law practice. But I’m sure most readers would see that the for nonsense it is.
Third, there aren’t that many reporters around anymore, and not many of those are all that interested in a lawyer’s take on the news.
Fourth — and this is the most significant criticism of newsjacking that I can muster — even if the lawyer is able to jump through hoops #1, #2, and #3, at the end of the day that persona is no more than somebody commenting on recent news. Anybody can do that.
Law firm marketers riding the news cycle might consider surfing in front of the wave instead.
Enter “Newsjumping”
Yeah, I made that one up. Newsjumping is getting ahead of the news. Newsjumping is looking out just over the horizon and identifying future challenges. Newsjumping is articulating sound strategies to cope with a reasonably foreseeble future. That’s better, isn’t it? That has real value. That is how attorneys should want to be viewed by clients and prospective clients.
Newsjumpers have calendars. They know the dates of upcoming meetings and hearings. Newsjumpers know which important legal issues are pending before which tribunal. Newsjumpers make news with a unique combination of intellect, experience, and foresight. These qualities distinguish an excellent attorney from a merely competent one. These are the qualities that clients are looking for.
These are also the qualities that news reporters are looking for. Few news organzations see a future in documenting yesterday. Just like attorneys, news organizations want to help guide their readers into an uncertain future. If you’re a newsjumper and you blog your thoughts, the phone will ring. Better yet, make a call to reporters who write on topics that touch your law practice areas. They’d love to hear a story that makes them look smart too.

We’re three innings into the World Series tonight. Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber is crushing the Chicago Cubs. Kluber’s struck out eight of the first nine Cubs batters. The man’s curveball is unhittable.

I wonder if some marketer is sending out an email right now. Something like, “Learn how to pitch like Corey Kluber by mastering one simple trick: the curveball. Soon you could be making $8 million a year just like Corey. Follow this link for your first free curveball lesson.”

That’s how it feels sometimes.

Go on / 571 words

No Reporters in Sight? You’ve Found Your Grail


Posted in Blogs | Content Marketing | Law Firms

My first real writing job, way back in 1980, was covering the Pittsfield Township Zoning Board for a local real estate development consulting firm. Pittsfield Township, located just south of Ann Arbor, Mich., was experiencing rapid suburban growth due to its proximity to the University of Michigan, an economic juggernaut in the state.

Substantial sums were changing hands as farms gave way to subdivisions, shopping malls, and chain restaurants. The Ann Arbor News, a prosperous paper with a large staff and no competition, rarely covered zoning board meetings.

My employer needed to know what was happening at those zoning board meetings. Objectively, and in detail. So he hired his own reporter. Me.

Persist / 609 words

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