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YouLaw: 9 Legal Marketing Cliches to Avoid

By Gerry Oginski | Monday, July 27, 2009

Watch the Video

TechnoScore: 1.5
1 = Lowest Possible Score; 5 = Highest Possible Score

I found this video from Morrison & Wagner while looking for a newly uploaded attorney video. I watched it once. Then twice, then three times. A few days later, I came back to it again after reading the lawyer section of my local Yellow Pages. I couldn't believe the similarities.

All the Yellow Pages ads say basically the same thing:

"Have you been injured?"
"Free consultation"
"Free parking"
"No fee unless successful"
"Over 60 years combined experience"

Get the idea? Now simply switch one law firm name with another, and guess what? Nobody would know the difference. Sure, one ad is in yellow, the other in white. Still another in color. Yes, one is 4 pages long. Another is 2 pages, and yet another is 1/2 page. I've been in this business more than 20 years and I certainly can't tell one ad from the other. If I can't tell the difference, how can a consumer looking for an attorney tell the difference?

Here's what I liked:

I like the suit.
I like the tie.
I like the crisp white shirt.
I even like his watch.
I like the clean desk.
I like that attorney Stuart Wagner introduces himself.
I like how he looks into the camera.
I like the audio.

Here's what I didn't like:

"Did you, or somebody you know, get hurt in an automobile accident, slip and fall or been the victim of medical malpractice?"

"We are here to help you."

"We have a toll free number."

"We have a combined 50 years of legal experience…"

"We are here for you."

"There's no fee unless we are successful."

"The initial consultation is absolutely free."

"Again, please call us."

"Or send us your information."

Why don't I like the video?

This video features nothing more than a recitation of the Yellow Pages cliches we hear endlessly that have been drilled into our head. This attorney has squandered the opportunity to explain to his viewer how he can help solve their legal problem. He has failed to distinguish himself from every lawyer in the Yellow Pages and every lawyer who has created a video saying the same thing.

Yes, he appears sincere, and yes, he appears like he wants to help, but he doesn't tell me how he's different.

Tip #1: Stop Talking About Yourself or Your Firm

I say this in almost every YouLaw review I write. Please, stop telling us how many years you've been in practice. Stop telling us where you went to school. Stop using meaningless cliches. Start giving a viewer a reason to call you. I guarantee that they will not call you if you keep talking about yourself.

Tip #2: Distinguish Yourself

An attorney in Cincinnati who has joined me in the Lawyers' Video Studio group on Facebook asked "How do you distinguish yourself on video?" The simple answer is to be yourself. The better answer is to explain to a viewer how you helped solve a legal problem. If your viewer has the same problem, they're more likely to believe that you know what you're talking about and contact you rather than your competitor.

Tip #3: Use a Catchy Headline

I give credit to this lawyer for using a headline that caught my eye:

Had a New York personal injury? Get NY's Top Accident Injury Lawyer!

But the use of a superlative in the headline is a no-no. Don't use puffery in your video, in your description, or in your title. You don't want consumers to view you as a salesman (or worse). Instead, you want them to view you as a legal expert.


I gave the video a TechnoScore of 1.5 because I like how the attorney dressed, how he introduced himself and looked into the camera, but that's it. His sidebar was filled with screaming CAPITALIZED cliches that merely recited his script. A listing of every type of accident case on the planet also didn't help. Skip the hype and tell a story.

Till next time, see you on video!

The Back Bench

Certified Family Law Specialist and online video producer Kelly Chang Rickert says: "This NY lawyer makes a fatal assumption — that all users have computers with sound. Should the assumption fail, the video would be useless. This is an easy fix. Just make sure his contact information — the name of his firm, telephone number, Web address, and specialty — appears somewhere during the ad. Otherwise, it's short and sweet (we like that!), and to the point."

Lawyer, journalist, and legal media consultant Robert Ambrogi says: "For a YouTube video to attract viewers, it should teach something. This one doesn't. It can work as a late-night TV commercial, but it sure as heck won't ever go viral. The video could also use graphics — at least the firm name and phone number. Last but not least, would someone please straighten the crooked picture frame in the background!"

TechnoLawyer publisher and online video producer Neil Squillante says: "Morrison & Wagner put about as little thought and creativity in this video as humanly possible. It contains every personal injury advertisement cliche you've ever heard. The video quality is pretty good so I'll give them that. To use the catch phrase of my favorite fictional movie critic, Jay Sherman, 'It stinks!'"

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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