It was a good day. A client came in to hire me on a good-sized criminal case. Decent fee. Staff gets paid this week. Good news for a slow August. How did you come to hire me, I say. Well, we looked at your webpage on the internet.
Well, I say to myself, it’s not like the old days. There was a time when the way to get clients was either good word of mouth from a satisfied customer-try that one on for size in a criminal practice—or getting your name in the paper. These days nobody under 65 reads the paper or, if they do, all they learn from page 2 of the Elm City’s esteemed daily, is which previously unknown celebrity has (a) impregnated his former girlfriend (b) been arrested for dui or (c) made some ethnic slur that has caused furor among 2/3rd’s of Facebook subscribers.
No, apart from advertising (about which our delusional editor repeatedly opines in this periodical), your webpage is where it’s at. That’s what brings in the clients. The better you present yourself, the more come in.
This necessarily involves a good bit of tooting your own horn, beating your breast and other forms of self-aggrandizement that offend most of those blessed with a modicum of common sense and decency. Creating a webpage is like the now-disreputable no income verification loans: an invitation to lie. Well, yes, Disciplinary Counsel keeps an eye on this stuff, but in reality they’re too busy chasing around members of our profession who, in one form or another, have fleeced those who have been beguiled by their websites.
How then, then to best present ourselves? There are always the objective, cold hard facts-“Attorney X recently won a verdict of $2.1 Million in a soft tissue injury case”; “Attorney Y has settled a class action suit for a gazillion dollars”, etc. It’s harder, though, if a large part of your practice is in the criminal arena. For those of us who travel that pathway our successes are most often gauged by the familiar A Small Defeat is a Big Victory yardstick. Oh sure, there are the occasional trial victories (I seem to remember winning a Disorderly Conduct trial back in the late ’90’s), but for the most part it is the disasters avoided that count as victories.
Do you, then, recount on your website that jacklighting case in Bantam that was continued 27 times until the State’s only witness moved and the case was nolled? And if so, in order to impress the reader, do you describe it as “Attorney Z recently convinced a prosecutor to drop all changes in a highly-publicized shooting case”. And how about that DUI case where you stand next to your client in court, say next to nothing, and he is admitted into the Alcohol Education Program after obtaining a Work Permit from DMV on a form you provided. I suppose the rules of good website practice compel you to say “He also successfully secured a dismissal in for a client charged with DUI and in doing so secured for his client the right to operate his vehicle so she could continue to support her family”.
Even harder, I suppose, are those case you actually do take to trial where the jury acquits on three counts of a ten-count indictment and the poor client still ends up in jail. Or the ones where the prosecutor asks for ten years and your client, happily, takes six from a lenient judge. How does the spinmeister massage that one?
Then there are the graphics. Pictures of gavels? Courthouses? Movie set worthy empty courtrooms? They’re all available? Catchphrases? “Reasonable Doubt for a Reasonable Price?” “We’re there when you need us most?” “Successfully representing clients in throughout Connecticut since the invention of the iPad?”
And let us not forget the attorney photos. Where do you find an IT Houdini who can digitally hide the jowls, brighten the teeth and transform your Larry the Cable Guy into Chuck Woolery? They’re out there. And I guess the name of the game is to find them and use them so your comely visage appears right there next to the other exaggerations about your legendary exploits.
I have to go now. I’m told there’s a photo session scheduled and I have been directed to apply Max Factor #9 to my age spots. I’m advised that once posted new clients will be beating down the doors here at 350 Orange Street.