As most of you know, I have written extensively on the power of image in marketing law firms and other professional practices. If you are an attorney, your product — legal services — is invisible, and in marketing terms, when a product is invisible, the package becomes the product. Even more important, your potential clients are not qualified to judge your services. They would be hard put to tell the difference between a great lawyer and an average lawyer. So they must decide by other means, and nothing will affect that decision as much as appearances.
So it was with delight that I read an article by Gerry Riskin entitled Intelligent Design For Law Firms. In the article you will find the answer to the question "How is a law firm like a tin of Altoids®?" You can download it here.
Here’s a good article on the Law Marketing Portal concerning the on-going soap opera of New York’s proposed new rules governing lawyer advertising. The writer, Burkey Belser, makes the excellent point that the rules were obviously written to govern the advertising of personal injury attorneys, and specifically to restrain the most aggressive and flamboyant examples of such advertising. You know: Call Jack "THE HAMMER" Jones — And Make Them Pay!"
(Let me say that while like Voltaire, I will defend to the death the right of these attorneys to advertise as they see fit, it woud be a blessing to me, personally, if all such advertising disappeared. When I am talking to prospective clients about marketing, some recoil in distaste because when they think of marketing, they immediately think of billboards and Yellow Pages ads that scream about sharks and pit bulls.)
Nonetheless, rules that are made to address the lowest common denominator are remarkably unfair. A society that, for example, made all its laws and social customs appropriate for the worst kind of criminals (not to say PI attorneys are any such thing) would be extremely inappropriate for the rest of us. The result would be a police state where, as with the ants in The Once And Future King, everything that is not forbidden is mandatory.
It is a tribute to the U.S. economy that certain businesses stay open. A rising tide seems to keep all boats afloat, even those that by rights ought to sink.
I run a service business. As such, I have a team of highly-trained, highly-paid employees. And we still often fall short of our goal of perfect client service. How one can exist in a service business with a bunch of minimum wage employees who have obviously not been trained in anything, is beyond me.
Recently I took a large print into a arts & crafts type place (which I will not name, but its initials are Michael’s) to be framed. This place is a national chain and advertises its "knowledgeable and friendly associates."
I selected the frame, glass, mat, etc., paid in advance, and left the print. I was told they would call me when it was ready. Three weeks later, having heard nothing, I went to the store. Befuddled employees looked everywhere and couldn’t find my print. Then they explained that their manager had been out for a week. Then they searched some more and found the print. Nothing had been done. They explained that the glass hadn’t come in. Then they explained that their chief framer had been out sick for a couple of weeks. The only thing they didn’t say was that their dog ate it. If I hadn’t come in to the store, I am convinced that I never would have heard from them. They already had my money, after all.
While much of the legal profession tiptoes reluctantly into the 20th Century of marketing (psssst, fellas, it’s the 21st) , New York has actually found a way to go backward. The goofball new rules, which went into effect last month, seem to proclaim that signing your name on a piece of your letterhead is the worst kind of ambulance chasing. I mean, who are the morons who drafted these rules? Oh right, they’re lawyers. The New York Times article is here: New York Law Firms Struggle With New Restrictions on Advertising. (Registration required.)
Many of my clients are elder law attorneys, and over the past year I have had occasion to learn and value what they do first-hand. Thanks to the services of elder law attorney Valerie Peterson, my mom
is now comfortably (and affordably) installed in an assisted living
facility in Sarasota, Florida.
My mother’s health and mental capacity began slipping about a year ago and mine is a tale very typical of those in the so-called "sandwich generation" who must take care of their own children, and aging parents as well. First my mother started calling me at least once a day to tell me that she had gone out to walk her dog and had forgotten her key and would I please drop everything and come over with my spare key? Things went downhill from there. She forgot to take her (very important) medications. She left food on the stove and caused a small fire. She became incontinent and forgot to put on her special undergarments.
In the short-term, I was forced to hire in-home care (the real subject of this post). It was good, but expensive. Very expensive, over $25,000 in a few short months. I could not afford $100,000 a year for this kind of care, as I’m sure most people can’t. However, a new supply has arisen to meet what is sure, as the baby boom generation’s parents age, to be huge demand for in-home care. The New York Times reports on a new "gray market" of caregivers who are short on medical qualifications but much more affordable than the typical agency. Read about it here. (Registration may be required.) Thanks to Diedre Wachbrit for drawing my attention to this article.