By Bryan Quigley
Institute for Legal Reform
Plaintiffs’ law is a big business – according to Towers Watson, the U.S. tort system cost $264.6 billion in 2010 (the most recent year for which data is available). A new study conducted by New Media Strategies and sponsored by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) analyzes the use of digital marketing by plaintiffs’ lawyers.
The study outlines the sophistication and complexity of trial lawyer advertising. A conservative estimate finds that trial lawyers spend $50 million on Google keyword advertising annually. By comparison, that’s more than triple the total amount that the 2008 Obama presidential campaign spent for all online advertising and considerably more than the keyword advertising that Apple spent on the iPad and iPhone.
From the study: “enterprising law firms sponsor a network of websites, taking different approaches to identifying and establishing a connection with potential clients … positioned as patient support groups, medical resources, official-looking government sites and even advocacy organizations.” The link to law firms may be buried deep within the site or even nonexistent. Law firms have started using these tactics to move into niche areas to optimize their web presence and target potential clients.
The study also shows that lawyers are using the burgeoning world of social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to find new clients. Per the study, “the litigation industry uses social communities to increase the reach of their own web content and online presence in an effort to encourage potential clients to share their personal contact information.”
Lisa Rickard, President of ILR, said: “This new research shows how the practice of law in the United States has gone from a noble calling to often times a large commercial enterprise, with marketing that rivals the largest industries in our society. While there is certainly nothing wrong with marketing your services, those services should be clear from the start. Sadly, some of the marketing tactics employed by some in the plaintiffs’ bar should cause the public to question: is this ‘client at any cost’-model what we want our legal system to look like?”
Click here for the full study.