Compliance and Video Marketing for Attorneys

Video is the buzz these days.  You've thought about video for promoting your practice...but, something is holding you back?  Could it be COMPLIANCE?

Business development through video may "frighten and confuse" him, but needn’t hold you back from telling your story through visual means. ~ SNL's Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer

Business development through video may "frighten and confuse" him, but needn’t hold you back from telling your story through visual means. ~ SNL's Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer

The good news:  
Treat video as you would any promotional type of communication.  If you are new to video, but have made even minor use of other online and social platforms, then consider that video is merely another tool or avenue to communicate the information you have already been sharing.  Plus, video provides you with multiple means for re-purposing content.

The Texas Law Hawk Bryan Wilson has been doing it right.  Ohhhhh – that may make some (most?) of you cringe, but like him or not -- Wilson’s campy videos are “doing well within the bar rules,” per Gene Major, State Bar of Texas Director of Advertising Review.

Attorney Shawn Tuma’s educational approach may be more to your liking and more within your grasp as you consider how to use video to communicate with clients and prospects.  Here, Shawn discusses a recent 4th Circuit case and the impact to data breach and cyber insurance.    
In this video, R. Shawn McBride demonstrates his speaking ability and range of topics, in an effort to promote and attract future speaking opportunities. 

Whether you plan to promote your firm, discuss recent decisions and trends, or highlight personal skills and knowledge, the more important point is:  it’s time to use video to tell your story and build business relationships.  

For compliance with bar rules, remember the following:

  • Seek to educate and inform;
  • Avoid misleading or false statements.

A video can be handled much as you would a blog.  Per Gene Major, a blog is not “public media advertisement,” if it qualifies as 

a)    educational or editorial;
b)    commentary on a specific area of law or development in the law.

Major emphasized that a blog helps you gain credibility, and is a “great vehicle to build a niche in the market.”  Video allows you to burgeon this by bringing prospects and clients one step closer than mere written words, enabling them to get know you better.  This is one reason many attorneys are taking advantage of YouTube and live video, such as FaceBook Live.

In this video from the SBOT Annual Meeting in June, I talk with Rocky Dhir of State Bar TV about branding and the bar rules - directly after Gene Major's presentation.  Starting about 2:30, you'll hear my explanation of how compliance applies to video.  (NOTE: I would edit the comment regarding URLs.  While you can have a unique and creative URL, I would not include the claim of "best" in that URL - could be misleading.) 


Another rule of thumb I always suggest regarding social/online tools:  use them as you would handle communication in real life.

To Tell Your Story:  It will help to have a plan in place to give you a guideline with flexibility.

For example:  you should decide the goal or purpose of a particular video and how that fits in with your overall plan for marketing and business development.  An outline for the year might include professionally-shot videos four to six months of the year, integrated with “raw” videos shot on the fly with your phone or computer – to fill in the other six months of the year. 

Professionally-shot video will convey competence and professionalism.  Raw video conveys a sense of realism and is sometimes more relatable to prospects than a polished, produced piece.  You should use them in combination to tell your story and express different aspects of your story, culture, personality.  

To succeed with either professional or raw video, script the text as well as the visuals.  Graphics (whether live-action or animated, original scenes or purchased stock images) should coordinate with the supporting text.  You’ll see in the ABA link below that “shorter is better” regarding the optimal length for your video.  I agree.  Edit your script so that you have sufficient space between concepts (rather than a script jam-packed with spoken content).  A video that describes who you are and your services should be rather short (around 1:00 minute).  Videos that discuss a case may be longer in order to sufficiently consider the topic (3:00 minutes, for example).

Consider the potential longevity of a given video, how you might re-use it for more than one purpose.  Plan ahead, also, thinking about the use of tags for the video and content – as it relates to your SEO plan (as dictated by your overall marketing strategy).

Submission for Advertising Review by SBOT:  If your video is merely a tombstone (holds mainly to contact information and type of law practiced), it does not need to be submitted for approval.  See TDRPC VII rule 7.07(e).  If the video informs/educates around a particular subject, it doesn’t need approval.  

YOUR GOAL:  demonstrate your knowledge effectively for clients and prospects who seek to research you online to aid their decision-making regarding a possible activity or potential need for legal services.

But – don’t just take it from me.  Attorney Gerry Oginski has salient points on the matter, chief of which:  the content of your video, the point of its message, the goal it should achieve – should only matter from the client’s point of view.  Not yours, your spouse’s, or your colleagues’ views.  Take a look, including the anecdote at the bottom of his lengthy, but pertinent post from March, 2015.

This post from Adam L. Stock is older (2011), yet useful for planning your approach.  It is followed by tips from Linda Orton.

Just for fun:  Here’s a clip from SNL’s Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.  Business development through video might frighten and confuse him, but it needn’t hold you back from telling your story through visual means.

Flip Cat Consulting helps clients a) determine marketing and business development strategies, b) select the tools best suited to their practices and their targeted prospects, and c) communicate effectively, in compliance with bar rules.  Initiate your strategy today: Contact us.