Marketing the Family Law Practice in the Coronavirus World
During the fall of 2020, legal marketing expert and former trial lawyer, Gina F. Rubel, Esq., presented a CLE to Bucks County, Pennsylvania lawyers working in family law. The program, Marketing Your Family Law Practice in the Coronavirus World, addressed members of the Doris Jonas Freed American Inn of Court.
The Doris Jonas Freed Inn of Court is a specialty inn of court focusing solely on matters of family law. Our Inn consists of a collegial group of judges and practicing attorneys from Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania who meet regularly to discuss and debate issues relating to substantive issues in family law, ethics, and professionalism. Our meetings typically begin with conversation over a catered shared meal followed by a teaching program presented by one of the Inn’s pupillage teams.
Rubel shared the state of the family law industry in Pennsylvania and across the United States, recent headlines highlighting issues that family law attorneys need to be mindful of, and statistics about the industry. She highlighted data from a July 2020 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey of members which suggests COVID-19 has resulted in pent-up demand for divorce.
- 70% are receiving more calls from individuals wishing to initiate divorce
- 45% receiving calls to adjust child or spousal support due to pandemic
- 94% said courts are addressing cases remotely to deal with backlog
- 63% reported Zoom being used for remote court access
- 51% reported that courts are more vigorously encouraging ADR considerations
She also noted a three-year study, Trapped in Marriage, which found that when a legal aid group directed low income divorce-seekers in Philadelphia County to use self-help materials, just 5% managed to end their marriages, unless they ended up with legal counsel or their spouse initiated the suit. https://www.law360.com/articles/1164301
Strengths of the Family Law Industry During Covid
- Family law matters have increased due to COVID-19 (Law.com: Midsized and small law firms in Philadelphia area reporting increased activity since March 2020)
- Consumers are finding attorneys online, now more than ever
- Virtual meetings have exponentially increased access to legal counsel
Weaknesses in Family Law Industry During Covid
- People in need of family lawyers are not sure how to connect when they are stuck at home with their spouses and significant others
- Many small law firms and families lack use of technologies
- Lawyers are managing work-from-home teams
- Client issues are different
- Social media hurdles
Opportunities in Family Law Industry During Covid
According to the American Marketing Association, 62.3% of marketers report that marketing has become more important during COVID-19, reflecting the focus on using digital tools and interfaces to connect with customers. Pointing to marketing’s priority during this period, marketing budgets as a percent of firm budgets (12.6%) and revenues (11.4%) have reached all-time CMO Survey highs, even though many companies are experiencing diminishing revenues. However, 9% of marketing jobs have been lost, leaving marketing departments to do more with fewer people. https://www.ama.org/marketing-news/5-marketing-opportunities-in-the-covid-19-era/ Now is the time for family law attorneys to:
- Pivot from in-person to online
- Take time to update EVERYTHING including website attorney biographies, practice area descriptions, evergreen blogs, LinkedIn profiles, company social media profiles, online directory listings such as Martindale-Hubbell, AVVO, Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, bar association listings and the like.
- Learn new technologies
- Be a resource, a thought leader
- Communicate with clients, colleagues, and referral sources frequently
Threats to Family Law Firms During Covid and Beyond
The biggest threat to family law firms are alternative legal service providers, also known as ALSPs. While many courts may be closed, ALSPs have been particularly busy growing their businesses. In the family law space, there is LegalZoom, HelloDivorce and GetDivorcePapers.
Earlier this year, California attorney Erin Levine announced her plan to go nationwide with her do-it-yourself divorce platform Hello Divorce. The site had been seeing rapid growth and earned Levine broad accolades, including the 2020 James I. Keane Memorial Award for Excellence in eLawyering from the American Bar Association and the 2019 Reisman Award for legal innovation from practice management company Clio.
Content Marketing for Lawyers to Grow Their Business
Law firm content marketing involves the creation of strategic, audience-focused materials that can be shared online. Strategic content marketing supports a law firm’s digital marketing strategy including website optimization, mobile marketing, SEO, and social media engagement. Content marketing should be used to:
- Unify brand communications
- Leverage content to support your business objective
- Measure and evaluate data to refine your content strategy
- Support and communicate your firm’s key messages
- Speak directly to the needs of your target audience
Attorneys should be more active on social media (the firm and its employees). Content shared by employees gets a minimum of 8x more engagement than the same content shared by the firm. In fact, LinkedIn reports that employees have about 10x more connections than the company for which they work. This leads to exponentially more interaction and greater engagement than on company channels.
Consider including visual media, such as an image, with every post. If interested in this approach, Furia Rubel can provide a royalty-free, cost-free stock image with each proposed social media post. Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images. Facebook posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without images.
12 Tips for Writing Effective Legal Blogs for Created Content
While there are two types of content, created and curated (content you share that others write), the focus here is on blogs written by lawyers.
- Write about a single topic.
- Stay away from providing legal advice.
- Be general.
- Give opinions only when it is in the firm’s best interest.
- State exactly what you would want quoted if your blog is read by the media – repeat your key points.
- For best SEO, >1,800 words.
- For quick sharing, 800 to 1,500 words.
- Long-form content has become more credible according to Google algorithms and will support your firm’s SEO efforts.
- Use bullets and lists as often as possible.
- Use titles and subheadings with keywords. (Don’t get “cute.”)
- Link to other sources outside of your law firm’s expertise.
- Quote others (clients, prospects, former clients, experts, referrals sources)
6 Blog Topic Ideas for Family Law Attorneys During Covid
- What should I do if my spouse and I disagree about back to school options in the age of COVID-19?
- With COVID-19 am I going to be able to have my divorce case heard by a judge?
- My ex-spouse is an essential worker. How do I get full custody to keep my child safe?
- My ex-partner and I disagree over how to keep family safe. How do we resolve these conflicts?
- What do I do about custody if my ex tests positive for COVID-19?
- How has valuation of property changed because of COVID-19 and the down economy?
9 Tips for Writing Effective and Sticky Attorney Blog Headlines
- Answer: Why should your reader care?
- Draft the headline last.
- Include keywords.
- Write as if it’s front page news.
- Tell a memorable story.
- Keep it short and powerful.
- Use active voice and action words.
- Include impactful data whenever possible.
- Don’t get cute.
Gina F. Rubel, Esq. is a communications expert, former trial lawyer and author. Law firm leaders call on her for high-stakes public relations, strategic marketing, business development and incident response support including high profile litigation media relations. The CEO of Furia Rubel Communications, a nationally renowned legal marketing agency, Gina is recognized by Lawdragon as a Global 100 Leading Consultant and Strategist to the legal profession. She educates attorneys nationwide on how to implement communications planning and tactics to drive business success. The second edition of her industry acclaimed book, Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers, is available on Amazon and AttorneyatWork.com.