Estate Planning Firm Benefits from Online Legal Forum Participation
We recently spoke with C. Randolph Coleman, the named partner in a two-person estate planning law firm in Jacksonville, Fla., about his participation in Lawyers.comSM Ask A Lawyer and other effective marketing initiatives.
LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell®: Can you tell us about your practice and your typical client?
C. Randolph Coleman: We have four major categories of clients. We have the traditional estate planning clients, and probate and trust administration clients. We also have elder law clients, where we help people preserve their assets from long-term care costs. Finally, we have pure asset protection planning clients, where we help people structure their assets to provide not only the protection from taxes at death, but also protection from unreasonable creditor claims during their lifetime.
LNMH: How do you market your legal practice?
CRC: The bulk of it is online.
We have an active blog that was named one of LexisNexis's top 25 estate, probate and elder law blogs for 2011. That has been a phenomenal marketing tool for us. My associate attorney is very good at writing and his last blog entry had a total of almost 60,000 views, which is impressive for such a narrow practice.
I occasionally use Google's pay-per-click ads focusing on a particular niche market, which is very successful and have been modestly active in the social media arena.
We also do some traditional marketing, such as sponsored events and quarterly newsletters.
I also use Preferred Results on Lawyers.com. If someone goes to Lawyers.com and looks for an estate planning lawyer in Jacksonville, Fla., my firm will be in one of the top three spots in the search results. I have been doing that for six years, and just renewed our contract for another three years. It includes a direct link to my website and generates good traffic.
LNMH: What prompted you to get involved with the Lawyers.com Ask A Lawyer feature?
CRC: I've participated in similar features on Avvo, Law Guru and RocketLawyer, but the prospective clients weren't high quality - it wasn't profitable for me to take them on as a client or for them to engage me as their counsel.
Lawyers.com attracts more qualified prospective clients, so it's a better investment of my time. I've picked up a few nice probate cases from Ask A Lawyer, as well an estate planning client or two, and a couple of asset planning clients. Lawyers.com is the only site where I can specifically identify clients who have resulted from my participation.
LNMH: Are there other marketing benefits that you get from your Ask A Lawyer participation?
CRC: When you give an answer, there's a link back to the firm's website. So I'm enhancing my site's backlinks, which improves our Google ranking. That's a pretty positive benefit.
I understand that Lawyers.com is in the process of developing a tool that will let me provide a live feed of Ask A Lawyer answers on my website. It will provide a steady flow of new information on my firm's site, featuring the answers to questions real people are asking.
LNMH: From a technical perspective, was there a steep learning curve when you first started participating on Ask A Lawyer? Or is the infrastructure fairly intuitive?
CRC: It's pretty intuitive. Once or twice a day I get an email of the questions which have been asked in my practice areas. The email includes the state in which the person or issue is located, so I can quickly scan the list, pick out Florida questions, then click on a link that takes me directly to the page where I can write my response.
LNMH: About how much time a week do you spend on Ask A Lawyer?
CRC: Twice a week I spend anywhere between five minutes and half an hour on Ask A Lawyer, depending on the number of questions. I probably spend about an hour a week answering questions.
LNMH: Do you have any particular memorable questions you've answered over the years?
CRC: They are always somewhat interesting. If a question is being posed on Ask A Lawyer, often it's because the person has already asked a couple lawyers and not gotten enough guidance to proceed.
LNMH: What tips would you offer to other attorneys who want to get involved with Ask A Lawyer?
CRC: Just get involved! It's been beneficial to me.
To learn more about Lawyers.com Ask A Lawyer or to find out how your firm can participate, contact a LexisNexis Law Firm Marketing Specialist.
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