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YouLaw: Angry Lawyer Beams Up to Courtroom to Discuss Father's Rights

By Gerry Oginski | Monday, June 15, 2009

Watch the Video

TechnoScore: 1.0
1 = Lowest Possible Score; 5 = Highest Possible Score

Have you ever found yourself talking to someone who invades your personal space? They get a little too close to you and it becomes uncomfortable. Well, I'd like to introduce you to attorney Elliott Schlissel of the Law Offices of Elliott S. Schlissel, a finger-pointing, tough-talking father's rights lawyer.

The opening scene reminds me of the original Star Trek TV show when Captain Kirk is beamed aboard the Enterprise. Attorney Schlissel magically appears out of thin air. As he explains how father's rights are so important, he begins to get in your face, and not in a nice way. He turns aggressive. He begins to point his finger. He raises his voice as if his righteous indignation is reason enough to justify calling him.

Four things really bothered me about this video:

  1. He doesn't even introduce himself. Yes, his name appears on the intro and exit, but not even "Hi, my name is Elliott Schlissel."

  2. The background is an actual courtroom in New York. Attorney Schlissel is obviously not shooting his video in the courtroom, but certainly gives the appearance that he's "in" the courtroom. One could argue that it's not appropriate to be speaking from within the courtroom. You might give your viewer the appearance that what you say carries judicial authority, or perhaps might carry greater weight than an attorney who appears to be shooting video from his office.

  3. He moves around a lot. He shifts his balance from one side to the other, and then approaches the camera in that "space invader" posture. He even opens his jacket button as if to say "Want to start something with me buster?" I got the sense that he was being aggressive and intimidating solely to convey his tough persona.

  4. Twelve seconds for an intro? Come on. I admit it's a very well done, graphically pleasing intro, but I don't want to see the creative graphics; I want to hear what the lawyer has to say.

Tip #1: Introduce Yourself

That's not hard to do. Why wouldn't you introduce yourself? When you meet a new client don't you say "Hi, I'm (fill in the blank). Thanks so much for coming in."

Tip #2: Be Ethical

Beware of your State's ethics rules that govern whether you can create ads, commercials or video within a courtroom. You do not want to give the appearance that your comments carry judicial authority and what you say is the absolute law. Do not ignore this warning.

Be conservative, and if in doubt, don't do it. Do not let your marketing company or video editor choose your background. You are ultimately responsible for your content, not the person creating the video for you.

Tip #3: Stay Still

Sit on a chair if you can't stop yourself from shifting around during the video shoot. It's natural to move around while standing. However, in a video with a still background your constant movements make you look nervous and like you are incapable of standing in one place for longer than a minute.

Tip #4: Use a Short Introduction

Use a brief introductory sequence and get right to talking. Nobody cares about your incredible graphics. If you must use a graphic, cut it to 4 or 5 seconds. That's it.


Righteous indignation has its place. A law firm video that explains and highlights what you do is not one of them. Don't get in my face and start finger pointing and taking an accusing tone just because you want to show how tough you are. You might as well put on boxing gloves and start hitting a punching bag saying "This is what I do to other lawyers who dispute what I say."

I was not impressed with this video, the background, or the in your face aggressive style. For all those reasons, this video received a TechnoScore of 1.0. By the way, the sidebar lacks any contact information.

Want to make the video better?

Ditch the courtroom background. Sit on a chair. Improve your sound quality by not having it sound like you're in an echo chamber. If you really want to convince your viewer how aggressive you are, have actual former clients explain what you did to solve their legal problem. That's a lot better than raising your voice to prospective clients to show your toughness.

Till next time, see you on video!

The Back Bench

Certified Family Law Specialist and online video producer Kelly Chang Rickert says: "Misogyny at its worst! Mr. Schlissel not only is a Father's Advocate, he hates women! A beautiful classic line, "Judges shouldn't be giving out orders of protection like candy…", should be followed up with "unless it is deserved and necessary," but wasn't. Also, his anger is too much for the camera — clearly he has personal experience with the system. Unless you want a drinking buddy to bash women with, I'd stay away from Schilssel."

Lawyer, journalist, and legal media consultant Robert Ambrogi says: "The primary weakness in this video is its production quality, which distracts from its message. The sound is tinny and he moves in too close to the camera. But the purpose of this ad is to market him as an aggressive fathers-rights lawyer, and in that the video succeeds."

TechnoLawyer publisher and online video producer Neil Squillante says: "Let's ignore the poor production values because the marketing angle here is far more interesting. Strange as it may seem, while many women may find this video offensive, estranged men seeking custody will probably find much to like, which is the point. In this regard, Elliott Schlissel is like the Eminem or Rush Limbaugh of family law. Those who find him distasteful would not hire him (buy his music, listen to his talk show) anyway. He knows his audience."

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
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