• April 20, 2018

Update (April 20, 2018): Large U.S. law firms are multi-million dollar businesses, as we all know. Not one, to our knowledge, is a monarchy, a tyranny, or an institution with a single almighty decision-maker. This fact has its advantages and its drawbacks.

A single decision-maker can make decisions a lot more quickly. Sometimes, this can be an advantage. On the other hand, sometimes the more collaborative and deliberative process makes for better decisions.

This comes to mind in considering a marketing decision made by a small Minneapolis law firm that appears to be run by one decision-maker, Minneapolis civil litigator, Chris Madel.

What was he thinking?

Was a marketing consultant retained for this “branding”? 

Who is the target audience?

What consumers of legal services want to hire “gangsters”? Synonyms for “gangster” include: hoodlum, racketeer, robber, ruffian, thug, tough, villain, lawbreaker and criminal.

If your company is being investigated by the government, do you want to hire a law firm that portrays itself as a criminal enterprise? (We note that Madel PA touts its expertise in government investigations in its advertisement.)

Also, we note that Madel PA seeks to distinguish itself from other lawyers, whom they label as “every-day type pranksters.”

What, exactly, is an “every-day type prankster”? Why would Madel PA imagine that potential clients are choosing lawyers by distinguishing the “pranksters” from the “gangsters”?

And what is with the menacing and funereal plain white type on a black background?

Is Madel PA trying to conjure images of fierce loyalty that some associate with organized crime? A willingness to kill or die for their clients?

In the end, though, who’s to say? Mr. Madel is a very successful lawyer. And his advertisement is certainly catching the community’s attention. Maybe Madel PA is onto something.

“A Tough Knot to Crack” (photo by Jay Fanelli)

Marketing for legal services, as we have noted on this blog time and again, is a tough knot to crack. As for LEVENTHAL pllc, however, we can say with pride, clients looking for gangsters or every-day type pranksters will have to find them elsewhere.

LEVENTHAL pllc: Committed. Ethical. Experienced. Affordable. Successful.

[Editor’s note: A Minnesota Litigator reader points out that the Madel P.A. ad is quoting lyrics from a 1991 rap by Ice-T, called O.G.]

Original post (Sept. 12, 2014) (under the headline “A Quick Note About Lawyer Marketing”): A client of mine needed a referral this a.m. to a very narrow area of legal expertise for which I am unqualified to help. And I have no connection to any Minnesota lawyer specializing in this niche area of legal practice.

So I googled “Minnesota lawyer specializing in [EXPERTISE.]” I came up with a dizzying array of providers in both “native search” and “paid ads.” But there was no way for me to differentiate the scammers from the true specialists or to differentiate the “part-time dabbler” trying to back into an area of expertise from the true niche experts.

So I googled “Minnesota [EXPERTISE] blog.”

What kind of lunatic would blog about some narrow area of Minnesota law on a regular basis if they were not actually working regularly within that area of Minnesota law?

It is extremely easy to slap up a website saying, “Jane Lawyer, U.S. Supreme Court Appellate Guru.” It is quite another thing for Joe Attorney to maintain a blog on an on-going basis focused solely on U.S. Supreme Court Appellate Practice. It is a big investment in time, energy, and money. Of course, a regularly written blog on a narrow area of legal practice is certainly not a fail-safe metric of a lawyers’ expertise, competence, or trustworthiness.

On the other hand, a regularly maintained professional blog with thoughtful content should be considered a strong signal of credibility.

(Of course, other world-wide web rat droppings internet resources (say, this racket or this con) are worthless, at best.).

I am confident that this distinction between superficial internet presence (website) versus in-depth public commitment to an area of the law (blog) explains why there has been an explosion of law blogs under the radar in Minnesota over the past two years or so. Many Minnesota lawyers and law firms have been quietly wading into this form of marketing (rather than diving in with fanfare) so they can slowly build up a strong body of content.

It is a quiet trend, but I am seeing it and it is an excellent development for all consumers of legal services.

Seth Leventhal is a Minnesota civil litigator with nearly twenty years of experience in civil litigation in Minnesota state and federal courts. And he blogs about it from time to time.

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