join now
advertise with us ABA Journal Blawg 100 Award 2009 ABA Journal Blawg 100 Award 2008
Subscribe (RSS Feed)TechnoLawyer Feed

YouLaw: Brain-Freeze Lawyers Use Animation But Accomplish Nothing

By Gerry Oginski | Monday, January 26, 2009

Watch the Video

TechnoScore: 1
1 = Lowest Possible Score; 5 = Highest Possible Score

I'm sure the brain-injury lawyers Jaray & Webster in Colorado Springs are good at what they do.

But watching their video, "The Law Firm of Jaray and Webster Can Help in an Instance of Brain Injury," gave me a brain-freeze — that "uh-oh" moment when you've eaten too much ice cream too quickly.

The video features a dorky animated "brain" sitting at a real conference table telling you about how injuring your brain is much worse than hurting your toe.

I just don't get it — an animated, talking brain, trying to convince a potential viewer to contact these lawyers? Give me a break. Let me get this straight ... some marketing rep convinced two intelligent lawyers that the way to attract clients is with a cockeyed animated brain? Just imagine if these guys handled medical malpractice cases involving perforated intestines. A talking colon perhaps?

When I watched the video a second time, I laughed at the ridiculousness of this animation. This video could very well "go viral" but for all the wrong reasons.

Tip #1: Creativity Is Not an End Unto Itself

Let's assume for a moment that these lawyers wanted to do something different and create an "outside the box" video. Maybe something funny, maybe a parody. Maybe they wanted to do something that nobody else has done effectively.

I'm all for creativity, but this particular video simply falls outside the realm of what a law firm video is designed to do — get a prospective client to pick up the phone and call you instead of your competitor. Instead, they created a video more likely to repel people.

Skip the cutesy animation. If you were you a potential client, would you seriously call a law firm that was cartoonish? Does this video give you "street-cred?" Did they test the video with friends and colleagues before letting it go live? Did the lawyers even watch the video before approving it?

Tip #2: Use a Lapel Microphone

The video eventually transitions into the two brain injury lawyers sitting cozily in front of a fireplace. I was hoping the video would redeem itself. Then, they started talking.

However, I couldn't hear what they were saying. Even when I turned my volume all the way up, the sound was awful. My guess is that they were using a camera-mounted microphone, instead of a lapel microphone. The problem with a built-in camera microphone or even a poor-quality directional mic is that it picks up all ambient sound. The room they were in has a distinct echo that made it much harder to listen to the sincere message they were trying to get across to the viewer.

When creating a video, always use lapel microphones. They're also known as lavalier microphones.

You can choose from two types: Wired and Wireless. The wired microphone attached to your shirt, and the wire runs all the way back to the camera to the input marked "mic." This works fine in a small video shoot. The problem with the wired microphone is that it creates a potential tripping hazzard.

With wireless lapel microphones, you also attach the tiny microphone to your shirt. The difference is that the wire is then attached to a transmitter smaller than a deck of cards, which you place in your pocket or clip to your pants.

A receiver with antennas attaches to your camera either through the mic input, or using a device known as an XLR converter. Using a wireless lapel microphone picks up your voice clearly and is well worth the investment.

Think about it this way. You're spending a lot of money to create your video. The goal is to attract potential clients. Hopefully, some of those potential clients will convert to actual clients and generate attorney fees.

If you create the video yourself, invest a few hundred dollars on a good microphone. It will pay off. If you hired a video production company, make sure they use wireless lapel mics.

Tip #3: Use Tried and True Lighting Techniques

Another problem with the second half of the video — awful lighting. Dark, poorly-lit faces did nothing to ramp-up what could have been a sincere message to potential clients.

You do not need fancy lights. You need "key" lighting which is the main light positioned at a 45 degree angle in front of you. You then need a softer light on the opposite side, also about 45 degrees from your front. This light offsets the shadows created by the "key" light.

Many people also use another light from behind the subject to illuminate, which can create a halo effect that some people find useful. If you really want to go all out, you can get a hair-light, so named because you attach it to a boom-pole above your head. The bottom line is that you need to be well-lit for a viewer to watch your video.

Remember, you're not making a Hollywood movie so you don't want dim lighting to create a mood. You want to get your message across simply and clearly.

You do not have to spend thousands of dollars. Instead, you can get a reasonably well-outfitted set of fluorescent lights, stands and poles for under $1,000.

Tip #4: Don't Forget About the Accompanying Sidebar. Google Won't.

Beyond the video, the accompanying text in the sidebar fails to identify the location of the firm or list its address, phone number, and Web site.

Again, I just don't get it. They obviously paid a company good money to create the custom animation and logo, so you'd think this company would also know enough to optimize the video for indexing by Google, YouTube, AOL, Yahoo, and other search engines.


So let's summarize what two well-meaning lawyers who handle serious brain-injury cases in Colorado Springs accomplished with this cartoonish video: Nothing.

The Back Bench

Certified Family Law Specialist and online video producer Kelly Chang Rickert says: "With a highly-specialized area such as brain injury, you would think these guys would put more thought into marketing! My little daughter loved Mr. Brain the Cartoon; she is 4 months old. Unfortunately, Mr. Brain the Cartoon completely vacated the seriousness of the specialty. The victims of a brain injury (and their loved ones) probably wouldn't find it humorous. I would cut the cartoon, and get straight to description of practice. You want to attract clients, not repel them — that's a no-brainer!"

Lawyer, journalist, and legal media consultant Robert Ambrogi says: "This is your brain. This is your brain on bad video production. From the tacky, wise-cracking cartoon brain to the tube-like sound quality, this video needs major brain surgery, stat!"

TechnoLawyer publisher and online video producer Neil Squillante says: "Although the use of a cartoon brain that bears a resemblance to Sponge Bob is inspired, it doesn't fit the serious nature of the cases these brain injury lawyers handle. Animation could very well set a video apart, but this law firm didn't use it wisely."

About YouLaw

YouTube offers law firms a free advertising platform with tens of millions of potential clients. But a poor video can hurt more than help. In this column, lawyer and online video expert Gerry Oginski reviews and rates the latest law firm videos. A panel of fellow experts (The Back Bench) add to Gerry's reviews with pithy remarks. We link to each new YouLaw column and all other noteworthy law firm marketing articles in our weekly BlawgWorld newsletter, which is free. Please subscribe now.

About Gerry Oginski

New York trial lawyer Gerry Oginski has created more than 150 informational online videos for his medical malpractice and personal injury practice. Realizing that most video producers don't have a deep understanding of the practice of law and what potential clients look for, Gerry launched The Lawyers' Video Studio, which provides free tutorials and video production services. If you need help producing a video, please contact Gerry now.

Contact Gerry:
T: (516) 487-8207

Topics: Law Firm Marketing/Publications/Web Sites | Videos | YouLaw
home my technolawyer search archives place classified blog login