Most every Wednesday I air one of my recent 1:1s with successful attorney-marketers. I recently interviewed the following 10 attorneys whose tips I feature in this booklet:
– Ali Awad started his practice in February 2017 with a laptop in the trunk of his car. He was living with a roommate and paying $300/month in rent. His first year, he generated $3.2 million in settlements. None were big wins; most were $25,000 minimum policy cases.
– Nima Etemadian and his partner have built an exceptionally fast-growing young personal injury firm based in highly competitive Southern California. Networking, attorney referrals, and social media provided the initial rocket fuel, and the growth of client referrals have the firm tripling its revenue last year and this year. Good mentorship early on provided the guidance.
– In 2009 Justin Lovely founded The Lovely Law Firm, a personal injury and criminal defense firm headquartered in Myrtle Beach, SC, when he couldn’t land a job as real estate lawyer. Together with his wife Amy, Justin has grown the firm to 5 attorneys and 15 staff using a variety of marketing channels and an approachable, community-focused style.
– Jason Melton launched his multi-specialty practice in an under-served part of Florida, promoting with organic SEO. Now he uses outdoor events, PPC, and Instagram. In less than one year Jason has acquired more than 14,000 Instagram followers.
– Mike Morse. After losing a referral source providing 60% of his cases, Mike Morse figured out how to both replace those cases and in 5 short years grow his firm from 30 employees to 130. His team now numbers 170, is growing 20% annually, and does $150 million in settlements.
– Kyle Newman has only been on social media since 2019. Even though he works in a long-established firm receiving a steady flow of referrals, 25% of the firm’s new clients now come from Kyle’s social presence. More importantly, some of the firm’s largest settlements and verdicts have come from socially-originated cases.
– Tina Odjaghian. 10 years ago Tina started her own firm, which specializes in traumatic brain injuries and other catastrophic cases, and now numbers 15 people. Social media is a key contributor, with Tina’s fashion, family, and law-focused personal Instagram page having 558k followers. Nurturing referral relationships is Tina’s other marketing focus.
– In less than a year Narimon Pishnamaz has acquired 137,000 TikTok followers, 37,000 Instagram followers, and more recently, 650 YouTube subscribers. Unlike many social promoters, Narimon takes a mostly-serious, informational approach rather than trying to be entertaining.
– With his social posts Robert Simon targets referring lawyers rather than consumers. He has been hugely successful with his approach, building his firm in 12 years to 75 people and $100 million in revenues. He is an impressively-creative entrepreneur who also founded a rapidly-expanding co-working space and membership program for plaintiff attorneys.
– Marc Wasserman and his brother have built a huge brand in their firm Pot Brothers at Law and its trademark saying, ‘Shut the Fuck Up.’ Their startup story is an interesting one, and driven entirely by free networking and organic social media.
If the practical tips and phenomenal results of these attorneys inspire you to expand your firm’s social media marketing efforts but you are short of implementation time, we can take 95% of the work off your desk. Our social media marketing program is described here.
I hope you find this article and my weekly GrowWithKara interviews helpful.
Kara Prior, Founder
1. Getting Started
Nima Etemadian: “When I first started marketing organically on social media, my goal was to remind my immediate following, including my friends and family, that personal injury is what I do. I want to be front of mind. My best friend’s brother, who has known me since childhood, called me one day to ask, ‘Do you handle car accidents?’ Within a month he and his mom referred four or five cases. Putting out new content to stay front of mind with friends and family has been super important.”
Jason Melton: “@jasonmeltonesquire is a terrible handle, by the way. It is 20 characters long. I should have picked something shorter.”
“The most important thing with social media is, ‘just do it.’ It’s okay if it stinks. Nobody cares. Just don’t post it again. Keep posting and hopefully it gets better. Nobody is going to judge you for bad posts. There are lots of bad posts. The posts are not intended to be memorials hanging on your gravestone. You’re not going to get good at it if you don’t start posting.”
Kyle Newman: “I’ve been our firm’s sole trial attorney for 13 years now. In 2019 I had my busiest year ever, trying 10 cases to verdict, which is a lot. Half of them were complex medical malpractice cases, which is really my specialty. At the end of the year, I had my biggest case, over $6 million that we won and it struck me during jury deliberations that I could really do this. Then I came across Andy Stickel’s course, which I took, and it opened a whole new world to me, which was social media marketing. It came at the perfect time, for that is when the pandemic hit.”
“I read a book by Russell Brunson called Expert Secrets. You have to read this book if you are trying to get into this. The book changed my entire perspective on marketing, social media, and establishing yourself as an expert. What this is really about is helping people, and that is the epiphany you have when you go from being a content consumer to being a content creator.”
“You can use any platform you are comfortable with. For me it was Instagram, and now I am really into YouTube. I never was that into Facebook, though we do some Facebook advertising, but we have scaled that back in the past year because of the price.”
“One of the things Russell Brunson talks about is your Dream 100, which is all the people who are in your space that you want to work with or be like. I had always relied on the NY Bar and the NY Trial Lawyers Association for information, but for the first time I was open to a whole new world of attorneys across the country – people like Nicholas Rowley, Chris Stewart, and Ali Awad, who are not only great trial lawyers but also have their own content-creation styles.”
“For people who are on the fence about getting into this, a misconception I had about social media was that it would be a negative thing, that I would encounter a lot of haters and trolls. However, my social media journey has been incredibly positive … especially with other people in the space. Others in the space have been highly supportive.”
“It also leads to a lot of business possibilities. I can’t tell you how many referrals I’ve gotten from this. Opening the door as a trusted resource brings people who may not know a lawyer in New York to reach out to me just to get info.”
“If you’re new to this, first pick one platform that you use the most – Facebook, Instagram, YouTube. You will be more familiar with how it works. Delete the distracting accounts you have on that platform, and instead focus on what the other people in your space are doing. Then begin. You have your phone, so you don’t need to buy equipment at the beginning. Just start and get comfortable with it.”
Tina Odjaghian: “When I started my social media account back in 2015 I wasn’t targeting anything. I just wanted a creative outlet to post about my family, fun, and fashion, which I’m super passionate about. I caught a lot of flak, because it was so unconventional and not lawyer-like. Now everyone is coming around, and talking about their hobbies and personal interests.”
“I was one of the only attorneys there. It started out as a personal page. I do most of my outreach and engagement through my personal page. Most of my referrals come from my personal page, not my business page.”
“It took a long time before my page took off. I was learning as I went. I wasn’t consistent or polished. I didn’t understand how the algorithms worked. I wasn’t engaging with the audience I should have been connecting with. It took some time.”
“At the 5-year mark, my social media started to take off. I had some videos go viral. I learned what works and what doesn’t, and fine-tuned accordingly. Now we get a lot of brand partnership opportunities, and a lot of opportunities in law. We are now starting to see the full potential of having a robust social media presence.”
Narimon Pishnamaz: “I had a friend who encouraged me to get on social media and who said he would help me make videos without charging me much. We used TikTok as our platform, beginning in May 2021 [10 months prior to this recording]. I had no followers at the beginning. We made 15 videos in our first shoot. Our first 10 videos received minimal views. TikTok does push your content, so you’ll get 200-300 views if you use the proper hashtag. But then one video hit 750,000 views within a week or two, and that one video propelled my TikTok following. Next time I looked I had 10,000 TikTok followers.”
“That video covered what to do if the police knock on your door. Now I’m a personal injury and medmal lawyer, so everyone says that video is not going to help me get business. But if you keep making personal injury videos you are going to run out of content, so you need to have a 360-degree approach to these videos. You cannot just make personal injury videos if you want to have a huge following on social media. I have re-posted that video 3-4 times in the last 9 months and every time it gets 400,000 to 500,000 views.”
Robert Simon: “I was first on Facebook. My handle was @LAInjuryLawyer. I started to brand myself early on. I was hesitant to get on Instagram. My wife is a social media influencer. She has her own fitness/supplement brand. She and my very smart marketing manager said I had to get on Instagram. From there it exploded. Nobody else was doing it. It was stodgy old law firm stuff, while we for example had a wrestling ring at our Christmas party.”
“Most of my cases come from social media. We had an online presence from our first week. When starting we targeted young lawyers, because those were the lawyers who didn’t try cases, plus lawyers who didn’t do personal injury. When we started on Instagram we used to get a ton of messages and DMs, ‘Can you help me on this case?’ That is how it started.
“Don’t name your firm using your and your partners’ names, using an email that is hard to remember. We boiled ours down to JusticeTeam. I’ll wager that we get a lot more cases just because our name is easier to remember. And it is something that you can sell later on. You have a brand, you have a presence, you have goodwill, make sure you are saving all that stuff so you are not killing yourself as a lawyer in your 70’s.”
Marc Wasserman: “While my brother and I shared an office suite prior to 2015, we had separate practices. I had been dealing with cannabis defense cases since the beginning. My nephew wanted to cultivate, which was a felony back then. My brother and I schooled ourselves on how he could defend himself if arrested. When he did get arrested, several times, we got the cases dismissed.”
“My nephew then invited us to go on a show called ‘Getting High with Adam Ill” on breal.tv. We needed a place to send viewers, so my brother created our Instagram page. We did a series of 15-second videos focused on what to do if you get pulled over. Within 2 weeks we had 5,000 followers.”
“Instagram commenters asked, ‘What do I do if the cop says ________?’ So over the course of a couple months we came up with a 25-word script and started pushing ‘Shut the fuck up!’”
2. Strategy and Planning
Ali Awad: “Social media will build you a massive brand. You have a tremendous opportunity, especially with TikTok today. I just hired a TikTok manager an hour ago. All she is going to do, full time, every single day, is just crush TikTok videos. Most people would say it is crazy to spend $60-80,000/year on a person just to build up your TikTok presence, but long term I’m thinking I can continuously remarket to these people.”
“Here is my entire social media strategy, hopefully in under a minute. I pay attention to the virality of my content. Whenever I generate a video that is getting tons of shares, which is the main metric I pay attention to … how often was this post, video, copy shared? If it was shared by more than 10% of my following, then I spend money on it. So if I received 800 shares when I had 8,000 followers on Facebook, then it is viral content. But the 10% is not a strict guideline. I then use that viral content as an ad, showing it to the people who were most likely to engage with my post.”
“To recap, first I invite my friends and family to my business page, second I test a lot of different content to see what goes viral, and third I put ad dollars behind the content that goes viral. That is how I grow my brand.”
“I haven’t seen a firm advertise and successfully build a brand on social media. Usually the ones that are hiding behind a firm name don’t perform as well. I do think leadership should be involved. If you have partners and all of them are popular, then lean into that.”
“I don’t think employees should be advertised. They could become your competition. Unless they are family and not going anywhere. The best example I can think of is Morgan & Morgan in Florida. He advertised Dan Newland for many years, and he made Dan the face of their billboards. They had a falling out and Dan opened his own firm. Now Dan has one of the top 5 personal injury firms in Florida. So now Morgan & Morgan doesn’t promote any of their other lawyers.”
Nima Etemadian: “Do some planning at the beginning. Do you want your personal page to promote your practice? Some people don’t. I love what I do, so I made the decision to merge the two. Having the right mindset before you begin is important.
Darryl Isaacs: “In the last year we have upped our social media presence, and we now are getting better-quality cases.”
“Social media right now is what I am going to call a blue ocean. I see a window of about a year, year and a half, before it is going to become crowded. Social media is so important.”
I went big on TikTok 6 weeks ago. An attorney from Atlanta who is killing it said I have to start doing video. So I shot some, and my first only got 1500 views. I was so disappointed. But last week I did 2 that got over 150,000 views.”
“I think a lot of them are so stupid, but that it what the public wants. An expert I recently heard at a conference said, ‘It’s not our job to question the customer. It’s our job to give the customer what they want.’ I totally agree with that.”
“People want to see me on TikTok. None of us want to do it, but you have to do it.”
Jason Melton: “From day one I’ve never spent a dollar on TV. Because of what I’ve learned about social media in the past year, I may continue to not advertise on TV. I’m 47, and it never dawned on me that some people don’t watch TV. They use their televisions, but they don’t watch TV. I didn’t realize there is a whole swath of people, most everyone under 30, who don’t watch TV anymore.”
“That triggered my sea change with Instagram. I started posting videos in July 2021, mostly during a family road trip, which we also put on YouTube. It clicked for me when I received a call from a now-client who said, ‘I see your stuff on TV all the time.’ It dawned on me that people don’t distinguish where they watch. It doesn’t matter whether they saw you on their phone, laptop, or TV screen.”
“For me social media is a way to market to people who we weren’t servicing. The bulk of our clients are older than I am. Social media is an opportunity for me to appeal to a new demographic.
Mike Morse: “You spend time on social platforms for branding. It enhances your billboard and TV presence. It targets a younger audience. I know some lawyers with 5, 6, 7 million followers. I don’t know what business is coming into the firm from those followers, however. The lawyers don’t share that information. But that is a lot of eyeballs, and they are free. I don’t know if it is starting to level the playing field with TV lawyers who spend millions annually, but it could. I don’t see why it couldn’t.”
Tina Odjaghian: “It occurred to me early on that people don’t want to see a generic business page. They want to see a person who they can relate with. To the extent I was strategizing, I didn’t know it. I was just doing what felt right at the time. I saw it working, so did more.”
Narimon Pishnamaz: “I usually test my content out on TikTok. It is like a free analysis tool. If it works on TikTok, it is going to work on Instagram Reels. TikTok will literally show you the data on the video. It will say, ‘40% of people watched your video all the way through.’ ‘The average watch time on a 20-second video you posted is only 5 seconds.’ That is not a good video.
“You can use that information in your ads, too. Your cost-per-click is going to be a lot lower if your video performed well on Tiktok.”
Brett Sachs: “We use social media not just for leads. We have gained a lot of our talent through social media. One of our top trial lawyers has a background in toxic and complex torts. The second he wanted to go into general p.i., he called us. ‘I’ve been following you guys forever, and you fit my mold. Do you have a spot for me?’”
“We do a lot of intentional hiring here. We have a culture we need to maintain, which is shown through our brand and through social. Finding attorneys who have that light-hearted and fun nature is difficult, so we use social to get case managers, attorneys, support staff, and other people in the industry who trust us.”
Robert Simon: “If you want to go direct to consumer, and do the educational route, I think TikTok is a very good value. However, don’t skimp on Facebook; Facebook still has the highest bargain. It has a bit of an older demographic. Get into the chat rooms and start answering questions. You can go to TikTok and do informational stuff. You have a younger demographic, but they will be reaching out to you. I know a lot of younger lawyers who have gone viral on TikTok. They’re getting cases and referring them out. It is very smart. They act as general counsel for that client.”
“Be cognizant of what you’re trying to market for. Pick a niche. Why not be, say, the construction work injury lawyer? You’re picking a demographic so if you ever want to do an ad spend on social media you will know how to target it better, and then pick the cases that either you have good knowledge in or that you think will be the most profitable and enjoyable for you.
Marc Wasserman: “In 2007-08 I was getting a lot of cannabis cases, so I made business cards with the name ‘Pot Brothers at Law’ as a joke and started handing them out. Fast forward to 2015, and we again started using that name. We unwittingly, unknowingly created a brand.”
“You have to engage. It is about engaging back. I still do.”
3. Effective Content
Ali Awad: “Instagram recently changed its algorithm so the playing field is more level. New creators are now more on par with those who have large followings. Why? Instagram wants to compete with TikTok so new people will join the platform. Instagram realized there was a plateau in new people joining.”
“When I used to get 20, 30, or even 50,000 views on my videos, now I’ll get only thousands. What is the point of having a million followers if you are only getting a couple thousand views? But if you scroll down a bit you will see that one of my videos recently hit over 1 million views on Instagram.”
“The reason I talk a lot about TikTok is because it is still easy to go viral there. On Instagram it is a lot harder. Car crash videos have a voyeuristic element, so we create a lot of them. The more they have a live dashcam view, the higher the likelihood that people are going to engage. The videos on my page that are getting a million-plus views are usually those car crash videos. The views are completely organic.”
“You run that car crash video as an ad, and let the algorithm pick who wants to see it. You don’t have to target a specific audience so long as it is within a demographic or geographic location. Target that video to a specific subset of audience within a geographic location, let Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok decide who they want to see that video, because they are motivated to have more people see it so you spend ad money. Have the call-to-action be to follow your page. That is how you get new followers and how you retarget them with new content.”
“Let me give you some strategies you can implement right now. The easiest way to create viral legal videos is talking about criminal defense, and specifically DUI. You might be a personal injury lawyer, but I promise your DUI checkpoint videos are going to get hundreds of thousands more impressions than your personal injury videos. Why? Personal injury is boring. People don’t care about car accidents until they’re in one. I dangle that carrot with criminal defense and DUI content, and then retarget them with personal injury content.”
“So start a video with, ‘Here’s what you need to do if the police pull you over. Then list your 3 points. Do that video 10 times, with varying content, and I promise that one of them will go viral. I’ll pay you if it doesn’t go viral.”
“I have a tax lawyer in my academy. She is crushing it. All she is doing is educating people on how to use different strategies to pay lower taxes.”
“Here is my problem with bankruptcy. The lawyers are advertising it as debt relief … like they are scared to talk about it as bankruptcy. Why not lean into it using the opposite direction: ‘Here is how you can use bankruptcy to your advantage. You should not be scared of bankruptcy. Here is why: boom, boom, boom.’”
“I think you can create a ton of content around whatever is your practice area. I don’t do as much content in bankruptcy, tax, or credit repair. I’ll touch on them from time to time. I’ve found after doing thousands of videos that criminal defense, specifically with DUI and dealing with police, especially with our heightened political atmosphere, those videos go crazy. So I stick to those.”
Nima Etemadian: “I think about simple topics that are very easy for lay people to understand and digest. I also look at other attorneys’ pages and see what they are talking about. Narimon Pishnamaz does a great job.”
“Items in the news, like the Johnny Depp trial, Dave Chappelle being attacked on stage, or Chris Rock being slapped, are great topics. If you can put stuff out the moment it happens and hashtag it, you will get a lot of traffic and a ton of eyes on it.
Justin Lovely: “My podcast has really taken off since we started newsjacking, giving our perspective on current issues. Today we dropped our Johnny Depp trial. I don’t know if you are keeping up with the Murtaugh murders; we’ve been commenting on that. Giving our spin on current events, we can say, ‘If this happened in South Carolina, this is the legal issue.”
“Listicles perform. For example, ‘My top 3 ways to increase your settlement,’ or ‘Top 5 mistakes to avoid.’ I try to answer simple questions like, ‘How much does a lawyer cost?’ Those get some traffic, but my goal for those is to appear for a search.”
“We research what is trending on Google. My paralegals record questions frequently asked by prospects and clients. If something appears which I haven’t covered, I will shoot a video on it.”
“We are going to start talking about what is happening on the local news – a local car wreck or tragedy or motorcycle accident. We can go live immediately after it happens.”
Jason Melton: “Privately, I can be funny. But I don’t often act that way on my videos, which may stunt my Instagram’s growth at some point. The most successful Instagrams are the ones who are super entertaining, which makes sense because I don’t want to watch boring stuff either.”
“I love to travel, and love the idea of sharing that with people. I strongly believe that when people travel, they become nicer. Travel breaks down stereotypes and barriers. Travel allows the mind to be curious rather than afraid. I’ve used my travels as posts, and I hope people like that. I like sports and food and use them, too, but I find travel is a nice way to merge in legal concepts.”
“Sometimes my videos are simply, ‘Here are 3 things not to say in your deposition.’ But for people just getting started, try to find a way to be entertaining.”
Mike Morse: “One of the big-firm lawyers asked me how do you know what good content is? I replied, ‘Content that makes you stop scrolling.’ It’s not that hard.”
Kyle Newman: “The big thing for when you become a creator in this space is that you get inspiration through everything you do. I could be listening to the radio and get an idea for a video that ties into personal injury or trial practice. Last night I was home with my wife and got an idea for a video that involves a Miley Cyrus song which I shot today that I will probably put out tomorrow. We were watching Pitch Perfect and that song came on. That one is probably funny.”
“You draw inspiration from your work, too. Yesterday I was hating on defense attorneys. I did a post on how you can never trust them. That was based on an experience I had two days ago. ‘You’re wrong, your case is crap,’ he was saying and the guy ended up being full of it. That was a lesson for young attorneys that I thought they should know. There is an endless amount of content and inspiration right in front of you on all these platforms.”
“I try when home with my family to put my phone away completely. But every night before bed I’ll scroll through, for instance, Instagram Reels feed. Every night I find inspiration and place it in my saved reels. People see what is working on social and in marketing, and then give it their own twist.”
Tina Odjaghian: “I would post about fashion because it is something I’m passionate about. I post about my family because they are a key part of my life. I knew early on that what I was doing was unconventional, so in order to obtain the respect of my colleagues I needed to pepper my posts with real-life results and successes in my firm so I’m taken seriously as an attorney.”
“I caution new attorneys, the ones who are on TikTok doing cutesy social videos, to be careful. Make sure that you are also representing what you are doing in the legal field. People want to know that you have seen the inside of a courtroom, if you want to be viewed as an authority. Make sure that you are balancing your content appropriately. It cannot all be gimmicks.”
“Every 3 or 4 posts I would post something about a 7-figure result we hit. That way, if there is any doubt about whether we are real attorneys doing real work, those posts speak for themselves. When we are published, which happens often because we try cases of first impression, we post about it.”
“If I’m speaking at a conference, whether it is my own or someone else’s, I make sure to post about that. I make it a point to integrate all aspects of my life so it is as accurate a representation as you can get on social media.
Narimon Pishnamaz: “Criminal content is the number one content category for legal. Even if you’re an injury lawyer, throw some criminal content out there. Tell people what they can do if the police knock on their door and what to do in a DUI situation. Everybody can relate to these.”
“In personal injury, you can make videos about Uber cases, Lyft cases, trucking cases, any car accident. But they have to be 10 times more engaging than criminal content in order to do well. No one thinks they will be in a vehicle accident, while they do think about police encounters and drunk driving.”
“Lawyers can be too stationary when shooting. Walk when shooting some of your videos. The movement helps keep eyes on the video.”
Brett Sachs: “I’m much more into the business of law rather than the practice of law. I don’t want people to think when they are hiring the firm that they’re going to get me. I hire attorneys who are way more skillful than I am, so I want to brand the firm around our core values versus one individual. As a result, our social media presence is capturing who we are behind the scenes.”
“We like to educate and excite people, so most of our content revolves around having fun while producing an educational piece. Some of it is just fun so people get to know us. Clients don’t always come to our office or see us, but I want them to know that we are good, genuine people who care.”
“We filmed something yesterday that makes fun of social norms in our profession. We show me going around the office and I’m doing everything, from taking all the phone calls, talking to all the clients, doing all the settlements, and trying every case. Behind me are our fans, who are our team members, laughing and saying, ‘Wait, that is not true.’”
“We try to give a light-hearted nature to our presence, but also try to educate as well.”
Robert Simon: “Be original, but you don’t have to be your firm’s spokesperson. I know one guy who does everything in cartoon fashion so that it looks like a Farmville video. Look at the meme lawyer accounts. They’re super funny, and they’re just memes. They’re never in it, but they get a ton of traffic and views, and now they’re starting to monetize those views. They’re setting up law firm stores. You just need to do stuff you think is funny; that’s what I do. Don’t be too polished or you will come across as impersonable.”
“Some of the highest-performing videos I have are with my kids. Those are the ones that get the most views. Also whenever there is something controversial. I had to sue Tom Girardi, a well-known lawyer out here, when I was a baby lawyer. I received a letter from him which I posted. It said something like, ‘You have until Monday to do X or you will never work again in this town.’ He just got disbarred. He’s been stealing for years. I took a clip of Matt Damon where he says, “How do you like them apples?’ and combined it with the letter. That was my highest-view video.”
Marc Wasserman: “For the majority of my content, I am flying by the seat of my pants … because that is all I have time for. We just stayed true to who we are and the followers came organically. We had no master plan. We simply set out to get a few clients for free and give out free information. And what we provided was not readily available. ‘What do I do when the cops ______?’ ‘Check out pot brothers, they have the answer.’”
4. Allocating Time
Ali Awad: “Don’t tell me you don’t have time to create videos. Everyone has one minute per day. And if you have a face for radio, you don’t have to do video. You can create content with just the captions. Have a picture of you standing outside or with a client, or a picture of a settlement check … covering the checking account number … and then have a beautiful caption underneath saying, ‘To you this might look like a normal check, but to me, this was the proudest moment of my career. And here is why….’”
Tina Odjaghian: “I’d say I spend 15-20% of my workweek is spent on marketing efforts, including social media. On top of that, I go to a lot of social functions. I do a lot of meet and greets, and speaking at conferences. Educating is a huge marketing tool for me. I enjoy it and am passionate about it. I’m big on raising the bar industry-wide. As it turns out, those efforts are very fruitful in getting referrals.”
“Once you put it all together, I’d say 40-45% of my time is spent marketing myself and my firm, with social media being a part of that.”
Robert Simon: “I spend 20% of my time on social media, maybe more. It is sometimes higher and sometimes lower. I get a lot of business from it, a lot of notoriety, and help a lot of folks. When I’m in trial, some of which have lasted 6 to 8 weeks, I’m still producing content. When I’m on lunch break, I’ll explain what just happened. People want to learn what is going on in the trenches. When I get into trial, I’m so uber-prepared that it is fun by the time I get to trial.”
5. Efficient Production
Nima Etemadian: “The videos don’t have to be polished. I shoot on my iPhone and edit quickly. If you look closely, the transitions are frequently messed up. Too many lawyers think it needs to be perfect. ‘I’m a lawyer; people are expecting perfection.’ It doesn’t have to be that way.”
“I went to a seminar and chatted with a guy, Law by Mike is his Instagram, who recommended: ‘Get stuff out there, it doesn’t have to be polished, and produce consistently’ … which is something I have been lacking. He said, ‘If you’re going to do it, create a system and a process.’ Narimon is good at this; he shoots a bunch of videos one day a week and then progressively posts them.”
“If you produce four videos each month, then post one a week. If you have more, post twice a week. But don’t fall off a regular schedule; the algorithm doesn’t like that and you won’t get as many views.”
Justin Lovely: “I have a podcast called Carolina Justice Report. We’ve repurposed the podcast into short clips for Instagram Reels and TikTok.”
“When I go to repurpose it, shooting one time I’ve got the podcast, the videocast, a Reel, a TikTok, and a YouTube video. I can crank out a lot of content from the podcast. The podcast drops every Tuesday on Apple iTunes. The videocast drops on Facebook and YouTube.”
“We plan to start getting hyperlocal with it. We’re going to do one hour every morning as soon as my studio is built. Our marketing director will interview me, and we will hit topics as they occur. That is how people are consuming their news now. Hopefully that will lead to more authority in the Myrtle Beach and Charleston market, and people will call us.”
Kyle Newman: “If I have a long engagement like a trial I will try to get a bunch of videos done beforehand. There are times when you get a writer’s block with this. For me what works is devoting a few hours in the afternoon. I’ll write a script, try to film it, and post it on YouTube. With all of this, you get better as time goes on.”
“You can learn about videography on YouTube. I built an entire video setup on my desk so I don’t need anyone’s help. I just flip on my camera and I’m ready to go.”
“I do everything on my own, but I do have an assistant in India who does all my video editing and all my graphic work. That I would never suggest anyone do on their own because it is so time consuming.”
“Harnessing overseas work is powerful. The quality is high and the cost low. If you’re just starting out, Fiverr is great. But it is better for project work. For me, as I’ve been doing this for three years now, I find Upwork is great. I want to work with someone for an extended time period.”
Tina Odjaghian: “I wish I had a media team, but I’m such a control freak that I want to maintain control over my content. I worry that it will lose authenticity or get watered down. I make a lot of my videos with the help of my amazing assistant, or my 7-year old, who takes a lot of my photos.”
“As far as the quotes and motivational stuff, I bank things I see. My assistant helps me put it together. I bank a lot of content, because when I’m in trial there is no way I can find the time to do it every day. I tell new attorneys that if you’re not going to post consistently, don’t begin. So I make sure to bank enough content so I can post on a regular schedule.”
Narimon Pishnamaz: “On the night before a shoot, I take 4 hours or so to make 15 to 20 scripts. On the filming day I get 2 or 3 suits and 4 or 5 ties ready. We shoot 2 and sometimes 3 times per month, devoting 4 or 5 hours to each shoot. Usually I shoot on Saturday, but also sometimes in the evening from 5:00 to 10:00.
“We shoot the videos one after another after another using different scenes and making it engaging. I try not to shoot more than twice a month due to trial demands. Even though I have a trial in two weeks, tomorrow Saturday I plan to shoot 17 or 18 videos. I wrote those scripts today.”
“When I started, I was shooting every week. But that proved unsustainable because I was so busy at the office. It is more tiring to shoot so many videos at once as I now, but it is way more time efficient and gets way more content out.”
“I have one guy filming, editing, and every day posting my videos. He uses a phone, not a high-def camera, to record the videos. We use 4k, 60 frames/second on the iPhone, and we have good lighting. We produce 25-30 videos/month, and we post almost every day. Every day when he posts he will send me the final copy of the video, asking if it is right. I’ll approve it and then he uploads it onto Instagram and TikTok, and we just started using YouTube. YouTube has been doing pretty well for us also.”
Robert Simon: “I have the luxury now of having a social media team, who I talk to daily to make sure we get things right, and to make sure we have funny videos. Anytime I have something highly produced I use Outlier Creative, founded by my JusticeHQ partner. A lot of times it is just me doing something with my iPhone that I think is funny, informative, or educational, and I throw it up there.”
“Realistically, the best way to go about this is to do it yourself. The best lawyers do on TikTok using Canva or go directly to the app on Instagram. I do, too. It is pretty easy to do. But it’s a time thing. Having started my firm over 10 years ago, I get to pick where I spend my time. If you don’t have that luxury, get somebody in college to handle your social media for you. It’s not that complicated.
Ali Awad: “In 2018, my first full year in business, I spent $6,698 on social media ads and generated $3.2 million in settlements for my firm, which resulted in over $1 million in attorney’s fees. That ROI was wonderful, but is obviously not sustainable as you grow your business and realize there are ceilings to advertising.”
“Keep in mind as you are growing your business that the clients who say, ‘I saw your ad on Facebook, or I saw you on Instagram or TikTok,’ that doesn’t take into consideration that other people who are following your page may have recommended you to a friend or family member. Look for the long-term play in branding and building your reputation online instead of just a dollar-for-dollar case acquisition cost – cost per lead and cost per case.”
“My cost per case on Facebook right now is $3,000. That includes the cost of our intake department – we have 6 full-time people there, we have 2 virtual assistants handling my social media, we have another two VAs handling reception, plus two office assistants for backup calls. And our media team is included in that mix.”
“Most lawyers would say $3,000 per case is a ripoff. Don’t do it. But you need to go deeper into your data. For example, I got 17 new referrals last month. The same month last year I received 9 referrals. The people following me are now recommending me to other people. My branding is building an ecosystem of word-of-mouth referrals.”
“Answering your question, when did I start seeing leads … immediately. I started seeing cases and clients immediately, but that wasn’t my intention. My intention was to build a brand and educate people. That is what I am continuously doing now.”
Nima Etemadian: “The majority of referrals through social media have come from friends, family, and acquaintances who now follow me. Rarely a random person will reach out through social media with a case.”
“Nowadays your real estate is online. When someone finds your website, they are also going to look on social media. Now they’re looking at your reviews on Yelp, checking out your website, seeing your Google My Business, oh my you’re on TikTok as well, plus Instagram and Facebook. Now they’ve seen you five or six times. You’re building a connection before they even call you.”
Kyle Newman: “Leads started coming within the first few months. You’re going to get a lot of people reaching out to you who don’t have real cases, or who have questions about things that are outside your practice area. After I took Andy’s course we put in place a strategy using ClickFunnels and Active Campaigns, and I set up Facebook Groups. We did that for awhile and it worked well. Some of the biggest cases we’ve gotten, and some of the biggest verdicts and settlements we have gotten in the last 3 years have been leads from social media. All it takes in personal injury is one big case to justify this. Early on we did get one big case from this, and then we said, ‘Yes, this is working.’ There might be times when you don’t get hits, but you need to keep pushing. You will get there.”
“I’m lucky that we already had a nice client base. For the most part, our clients come from word of mouth because we have been in the area for so long and my dad has a great reputation and a great connection with the local community in the Bronx, but I’d say right now probably about 25% of our cases come from social media.”
“Last year I got into YouTube, which I’m trying to do more of now. It is different from Facebook and Instagram because it is a search engine. People using it are searching for information and that will bring them to you, as opposed to Facebook and Instagram where you are trying to net people using a big net. Last year we put out a video for a new mass tort regarding an ultrasound gel that had been recalled. It was contaminated with bacteria and had caused all these horrific infections, and last year alone we got 45 cases just from that video. And they were serious cases.”
“On YouTube the quality of the leads is a bit higher. There people are searching for information, maybe about a car accident, or a slip and fall, or how to sue their landlord, so they already have an issue they want an answer for. None of the stuff we put out on YouTube is like a traditional attorney ad. This modern view of advertising is really just to put out useful information and establish yourself as an expert. That is more than enough for people to seek your services. The days are over for ‘I’m the best attorney, I’ve won $100 million.’ What works for us as a smaller law firm trying to keep costs as lean as possible is to seek organic reach. Then you can advertise things that are working for you based on what is getting the most engagement, what type of questions the audience is asking.”
“If you keep it as a social interaction and humanize yourself and what you do, as a real person and a real expert in your field, then I think it will go a lot further.”
Narimon Pishnamaz: “30-40% of my new intake is from social media. Within a month of going viral on TikTok, people started texting me. I obtained a good dog bite case early on, so I doubled down on social. I reply immediately to the texts, and I also have my office staff reply if I’m in a deposition or arbitration.”
“Even though I have 127,000 followers on TikTok, the best quality leads are coming from Instagram, not TikTok. TikTok is a really good app for exposure and going viral, but the quality of leads coming from Instagram are much better. Instagram Reels is the best way to pursue leads. Instagram people are much more engaged for the long term. TikTok won’t push your videos unless people interact in the first few seconds. The Instagram Reels algorithm has been more beneficial for me. My Instagram leads are usually aged 25-35, and highly engaged with my content, commenting on my stories, and replying.”
“I’ve gone to about 50-70 million views across all platforms in the last 10 months, maybe more. People are coming to me from all over. Instagram lets you see location: ‘10% of your followers are in Los Angeles, 10% are in New York.’ I get a lead for a car accident in Manhattan. Obviously I cannot take that case, so I regularly refer those cases out. In turn, I’m hoping if they get a lead in California they will send it to me.”
“I get all types of leads. Sometimes it is a personal injury case, but it may also be a DUI or landlord-tenant. When you are doing 360-degree coverage in your videos of all types of law, you will receive leads for all types of cases. You have to know how to manage those leads.”
Marc Wasserman: “Leads began flowing immediately.”
7. Top Recommendations
Ali Awad: “The easiest way is to get organic followers by giving them viral content like how to deal with tax issues, what you can do to maximize the benefits of your bankruptcy, and how to deal with police officers at a DUI checkpoint. These are topics that have consistently performed well on social media, and they will outperform buying followers or influencer shout-outs 100% of the time.”
Darryl Isaacs: “You need to get somebody who knows what they’re doing, which means hiring a young person. I ran an ad, but didn’t get much response. Then I did a TikTok video in which I wore a Christmas sweater and said, ‘Come work for me doing social media and it will be like Christmas every day.’ I received responses from influencers; one had 30 million followers. We hired one who has had millions of views and has hundreds of thousands of followers.”
“She films videos for us. She also stars in them, and I am in hers. We are inter-changing followings.”
“Anybody can start doing this, but I would try to get local influencers to help. We formed an alliance with a local realtor who has a hundred thousand followers and posts 2-3 videos a day. Once or twice a month we will get together and shoot 3 or 4 videos.”
Justin Lovely: “Video. Just get started. You will be surprised how many people say they saw you.”
Jason Melton: “The first thing I tell young lawyers is don’t do marketing unless you can really splash whatever space you’re in. If you’re going to do bus stops, do a lot of them and be the bus stop guy. Don’t do 3 bus stops, 1 billboard, and 1 newspaper. It is just not memorable, for people’s brains don’t work that way. Really work a channel.”
“For social, pick one channel, whether it is Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or YouTube, and then drive real fast in that lane. Otherwise you will end up with four bad channels. It is the same with other marketing. Pick one and really kill it before you do other stuff.”
Mike Morse: “It is not necessarily the technique, it is the message that is important. I see such terrible messaging in ads. The typical legal ad is garbage. It’s boring. But I can’t walk 10’ out of my building without someone coming up to me and saying, ‘I love your commercials.’ ‘I love your Mom.’ ‘I love what you do for our community.’ I know that my competitors aren’t hearing that. We decided to do it differently, and it works.”
“You have to find your voice, and what works for you. Not everybody can adopt my schtick. I use my Mom and my dog and make fun of myself in the ads. That’s me. It won’t work for everybody. You have to be different and shake it up a bit. Once you have the message, you will learn how to get it out.”
Kyle Newman: “The main thing is to stay authentic. Whatever your personality, there will be viewers who are into it. In this crazy world, maybe the weirder you are, the more outside the norm you are, the better for you. People are drawn to that.”
“There is a natural tendency to act like a lawyer and not like yourself. As long as you are providing valuable information, people will be drawn to it. People can tell if you are half-assing it, but if you put a lot of work into it, viewers will appreciate it.”
Tina Odjaghian: “Be authentic. People have a bullshit detector. Even if you like something, don’t try to emulate it. Do your own thing. You’ve got what it takes. Just do you.”
“Work on yourself. That doesn’t have to be within the confines of our legal profession. Maybe you’re struggling with limiting beliefs, self-confidence issues, or the ability to assert yourself in a room. Or perhaps there are trial techniques that you need help with … or even interpersonal skills. Read books, do progattend retreats – anything that nourishes your soul.”
“Once you become a more content and happy and positive person, that will resonate with people around you. Then whatever you are approaching becomes more successful. Invest in yourself, and make yourself a priority. Trust that that process will materialize in a way that serves you and your business.”
Narimon Pishnamaz: “The best advice I can give everybody is don’t come into this thinking you are going to create 2-3 videos and results are going to happen. Progress will occur gradually. If you want to succeed, you need to commit 2 days a month to writing scripts and shooting videos. You have to post consistently.”
“Start small. The first month post 10 videos, but be consistent. Every month post 10 videos and I can guarantee somebody is going to like your content and share it, and more and more followers will gradually come.”
Brett Sachs: “Develop a cheap, easy way to market yourself. You can do it on Instagram. A lot of my friends do that. They put all their efforts into free social media, do their own filming and editing. Market yourself as who you are, and do it for as little cost as possible.
Robert Simon: “Have a plan, an audience, a plan of attack, and then be consistent with it. If you’re going to be in social media, you have to realize that you’re going to be more visible in how active you’re using their app, whatever platform you’re on. If you are posting more on Instagram, and people are doing more DMs, you will show higher on people’s feeds.”
“Have a brand identity. Have a handle that is easy to remember. You can create a new handle. I know a lady who calls herself @TheBreakupLawyer. She does family law. Genius! Another lawyer is named @NewJerseyTrialLawyer. Whenever I have a case to refer in New Jersey I go right to her because I remember the name. My name is @PlanetFunBob, because that has been my name since I was a little kid because I am always laughing and having a good time.”
“Lawyers, you are in the business of sales. It doesn’t matter if you are selling your case to 12 jurors, selling yourself to the client who walks in the door, or selling to person who is watching your video, you have to know who you are selling to, what they like, and make yourself relatable to them.”
Marc Wasserman: “If you’re just starting out, whatever your thing is, bring it simplistically to your audience together with a large piece of yourself … if not all of yourself. Granted, not everyone is willing to do this. My brother was not near as comfortable as I was. I’m an actor and filmmaker.”
I hope you pulled several use-it-today suggestions from this collection of social media marketing tips from experts. I especially liked these lessons:
- Getting Started
– Tina Odjaghian: “I just wanted a creative outlet to post about my family, fun, and fashion, which I’m super passionate about. Now everyone is coming around, and talking about their hobbies and personal interests.”
– Narimon Pishnamaz: “ You cannot just make personal injury videos if you want to have a huge following on social media.”
- Strategy and Planning
– Ali Awad: “To recap, first I invite my friends and family to my business page, second I test a lot of different content to see what goes viral, and third I put ad dollars behind the content that goes viral. That is how I grow my brand.”
– Narimon Pishnamaz: “I usually test my content out on TikTok. If it works on TikTok, it is going to work on Instagram Reels. TikTok will literally show you the data on the video: ‘The average watch time on a 20-second video you posted is only 5 seconds.’ That is not a good video.
– Marc Wasserman: “You have to engage. It is about engaging back. I still do.”
- Effective Content
– Ali Awad: The videos on my page that are getting a million-plus views are usually those car crash videos. The views are completely organic.”
– Justin Lovely: “Listicles perform. For example, ‘My top 3 ways to increase your settlement,’ or ‘Top 5 mistakes to avoid.’ I try to answer simple questions like, ‘How much does a lawyer cost?’ Those get some traffic, but my goal for those is to appear for a search.”
- Allocating Time
– Tina Odjaghian: “I’d say I spend 15-20% of my workweek is spent on marketing efforts, including social media. Educating is a huge marketing tool for me. I enjoy it and am passionate about it.”
– Robert Simon: “I spend 20% of my time on social media, maybe more. It is sometimes higher and sometimes lower. I get a lot of business from it, a lot of notoriety, and help a lot of folks.
- Efficient Production
– Nima Etemadian: “The videos don’t have to be polished. I shoot on my iPhone and edit quickly. If you look closely, the transitions are frequently messed up. Too many lawyers think it needs to be perfect.”
– Justin Lovely: “I have a podcast called Carolina Justice Report. When I go to repurpose it, shooting one time I’ve got the podcast, the videocast, a Reel, a TikTok, and a YouTube video. I can crank out a lot of content from the podcast.”
– Kyle Newman: “Harnessing overseas work is powerful. The quality is high and the cost low. If you’re just starting out, Fiverr is great. But it is better for project work. I find Upwork is great. I want to work with someone for an extended time period.”
– Ali Awad: “Answering your question, when did I start seeing leads … immediately. I started seeing cases and clients immediately, but that wasn’t my intention. My intention was to build a brand and educate people. That is what I am continuously doing now.
– Kyle Newman: “Leads started coming within the first few months. Some of the biggest cases we’ve gotten, and some of the biggest verdicts and settlements we have gotten in the last 3 years have been leads from social media.”
- Top Recommendations
– Mike Morse: “It is not necessarily the technique, it is the message that is important. I see such terrible messaging in ads. The typical legal ad is garbage. It’s boring. We decided to do it differently, and it works. You have to find your voice, and what works for you.”
– Robert Simon: “Have a brand identity. Have a handle that is easy to remember. You can create a new handle. I know a lady who calls herself @TheBreakupLawyer. She does family law. Genius!
If after reading this article you have implementation questions, contact me anytime. I am always happy to talk with marketing-oriented law firms.
These attorneys are a wonderful source of social media marketing guidance, so I hope to continue having them update us on their social media strategies through my GrowWithKara show.
In the meantime, if you need help with your social media marketing, know that we have scripted, remotely shot, edited, captioned, and posted hundreds of social videos for lawyers and can do the same for you. Our done-for-you program is described here and below..
Kara Prior, Founder
BUILD A ROBUST SOCIAL PRESENCE FOR YOU AND YOUR LAW PRACTICE
Roughly a third of the successful attorney-marketers I interview on my GrowWithKara show are obtaining many-to-most of their new clients from social media – primarily Instagram and Facebook.
Even better, they are spending small dollars to obtain those clients. But these attorneys and their assistants are devoting substantial hours to choosing topics, writing scripts, shooting videos, adding captions, boosting the best performers, and running ads.
Are you interested in building a robust social presence but short of time?
ONE HOUR A MONTH
After remotely shooting hundreds of lawyer videos, we have the process streamlined into an effective process that only requires you to once-a-month:
- Take 15 minutes to review our scripts and practice reading them aloud before our shoot
- Spend 45 minutes reading the scripts from our teleprompter while we virtually record
That’s it. You give us one hour/month and we will create a major social presence for you on multiple social platforms that includes:
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– 100% supported. We mail you a ring light and phone stand. We then match you with a dedicated video director who will walk you through setup for your first shoot, send you scripts in advance, answer questions, and lead each subsequent monthly shoot.
– 4-5 weekly posts. Depending on your initial proficiency, each month we will shoot enough footage to post four or five videos every week. By your third or fourth shoot you should be able to sail through all the scripts and produce all the footage we need to post five days/week.
– Videos, not photos. Videos are more effective at driving views, likes, and comments than photos, so that is what we create for you. As you get more comfortable in front of the camera, your videos will become more varied.
– 4 major social platforms. We begin with Instagram and Facebook, and then add YouTube and TikTok. We stagger their addition so we can use previously-shot videos for most of the posts, while also custom-creating some tailored ones.
– Lead magnets plus. We periodically post ads offering educational booklets branded with your name and contact information. Clicking the ads takes viewers to tailored sales funnels which, after providing the booklets, suggest calling your firm and follows up with nurturing emails.
– Boosting on us. After a couple shoots, several of your videos should have generated substantial views. We put some of our money behind the popular ones, targeting the geographic areas you serve. This paid advertising will materially increase your follower count.
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Marketing Amplifier costs $1,495/month. There are no setup fees or other charges. You may cancel anytime after 3 months, which we need to show you the robust social presence we can deliver.
To learn more, watch my short video.