Today I’m talking about buying attorney awards. Many of us are familiar with some of the big organizations that give out “awards” to attorneys. We know about Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers of America, and the growing cottage industry around different types of awards. Some awards can be bought while others cannot.
So, I’ve decided to give you some frame of reference for thinking about attorney awards and whether or not it’s worth your investment to get them.
If you do choose to get them, I’ll show you how you can use them effectively in your business.
Tune in to learn more!
In this episode we discuss:
- Different types of awards available to purchase.
- How our need for connectivity can be used effectively in marketing.
- Using awards effectively in your marketing efforts to promote your business.
- Using your website as a home base and driving people there through your marketing activity.
- Sharing news of the award whether it was purchase or bestowed upon you.
Allison Williams: [00:00:11] Hi, everybody, it’s Allison Williams here, your Law Firm Mentor. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you grow your revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money.
Allison Williams: [00:00:25] Hi, everybody, it’s Allison Williams here your Law Firm Mentor. And on this week’s episode of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast, we’re going to talk about buying attorney awards. So I know that a lot of you are familiar with some of the big organizations that give out, quote-unquote, awards to attorneys. We know about Super Lawyers, we know about Best Lawyers of America and there’s a, there’s like a now a cottage industry around different types of awards. Some of them you can buy. Some of them you can’t. And in fact, I saw a very recent Facebook thread that was really very interesting about people’s different perspectives, about Super Lawyers, and the query about how you get into Super Lawyers and how you win the award. And there was an unusual vitriol that kind of sprung up around people’s perspectives around marketing, and in particular marketing using these awards. So I wanted to give you some frame of reference for thinking about attorney awards and whether or not it’s worth your investment to get them and whether or not it’s something that if you choose to get them, how you can use them effectively in your business. So the first thing I want to make a note about is that I actually recorded a YouTube video about this, it’s on our YouTube channel, you can find it at very simple YouTube.com/LawFirmMentor.
Allison Williams: [00:01:48] But on that site, the video that I recorded is only about three minutes and I’m going to link to it in the show notes. But we talk about attorney awards and the value of attorney awards. And for those of you that have a very pejorative view around the Attorney Awards, I just want you to be thinking about this a little bit differently, not that they’re great, not that they’re awful, but just that they’re neutral. And everything in life that’s neutral has a way of being used for your greater good and so that’s what we’re always looking for. How can I use this in my business, if at all, in a way that’s going to get me more of what I desire in business and in this instance, more clients or better clients. And so, I want to think about, first of all, what some of these awards have become, right. So for those of you that are not familiar with the Attorney Awards, I want you to be thinking about companies like the top 40 Under 40 or the Top One Percent or The Best Family Law Attorney Award or the Best Criminal Defense Attorney Award or the best in show award, right? There’s all of these different organizations that are now offering a plaque for two hundred and fifty to four hundred dollars, give or take, that’s usually the range where you can buy an award and you have to confirm your quote-unquote nomination for this award.
Allison Williams: [00:03:10] Now, what’s interesting about it is that the criteria for selection are usually very vague. It’s usually like you have to have been nominated by someone in your community and you have to have the trial skills or the verdicts or the settlements or the reputation in the community or something like that that would justify you being chosen. And my very best friend, as she was in a partnership with two older gentlemen, both of whom are now deceased, and she shared with me that both of them had actually gotten the awards after they had died. So while it is not uncommon to have awards being given posthumously, this is a business these award companies that give out, quote-unquote, awards to attorneys are doing so for the purpose of generating dollars. Right? But since it’s so, they have to sell a certain number of plaques to hit their quota and they have an exclusivity of only X number of people are going to be eligible for the award, but they want you to opt into the award. And usually what we find with these awards are the those that are very heavily marketing themselves, lawyers that are proactively putting themselves out there as seeking to grow their business by virtue of having a fancy website and having a lot of, quote-unquote, awards on their website, having high credentials, having advertised in multiple publications and different bar journals. Right?
Allison Williams: [00:04:44] When they start to see that you are a marketing-minded person, all of a sudden you become one of the top 10 Travel Attorneys in your, in your state. So for that reason, a lot of lawyers see this as nothing more than a game, and the way that we gamed the system, the way that the game is played, is that you buy the awards, you stack the awards, and then you impress the clients and a lot of lawyers will talk about these awards. And this, by the way, is separate and apart from some of the award organizations that, at least on their face, do not require payment. Right? I remember I was chosen for Super Lawyer probably three or four years before I even owned the law firm and then another three or four years into owning a law firm when I finally started to advertise, but I was never required to advertise in order to receive the nomination, I simply had to have peers and colleagues that did not work in my law firm be eligible and choose to nominate me. So but people are saying it works differently in different jurisdictions and they’ve gotten kind of a shakedown on, on buying the awards, if that is, in fact, the case, that hasn’t been my personal experience, but, you know, I’m not going to negate someone else’s experience.
Allison Williams: [00:05:57] But I want to talk about how when you think about the conception of these awards, the whole idea is that you are differentiating yourself based on some extrinsic quality that a client could evaluate. Right? So a client is going to have a challenge looking at thousands of lawyers and saying, yeah this is the best criminal defense attorney for me or yeah, this is the best family law attorney for me or yeah, this is the real estate attorney I should go with. We don’t think about that because we in the profession have our own standards for evaluating what is or is not a quality lawyer. But if you think about it, then the public is not generally going to have access to the things that we have access to. They’re not generally going to know things like whether or not someone settled a case that was very complex in a shorter period of time than is customary or whether or not a verdict that may have been the subject of a substantial trial and it may have even been the trial attorney wasn’t even involved pre-litigation, right? There could be any number of things that would support or negate that someone’s skill is attributed to that quantitative value. But the quantitative value is something that a client could grasp on to a client and at least say, yeah, this person has won a million-dollar verdict or this person has settled a multimillion-dollar divorce or this person has successfully secured property rights in this contested property matter.
Allison Williams: [00:07:28] But the real challenge that a lot of people struggle with is that even once you get past that, there still is a level of question mark that the members of the public are going to have and oftentimes the need for legal services eclipses their ability to not only become conversant in how to actually hire an attorney, to then also have to go through all of those criteria and question on the various different websites of the various different lawyers that are in the marketplace, which of those criteria they should be most inclined to be persuaded by when it’s time to decide upon hiring an attorney. So for that reason, I wanted to give you a very significant strategy and it’s really, it’s foundational information that can really help you in marketing anything. But I want you to think about these attorney awards from the perspective of the human instinct in all of us to be connected with other people. OK, so when I teach, one of our Seminole retreats is called Marketing For The Masters and when we present the Marketing For The Masters signature retreat, we talk about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and for those of you that are not familiar at all with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it’s basically a pyramid and ultimately, there are five different areas where we have a, a critical, urgent desire in ourselves to be seeking out our own self-preservation.
Allison Williams: [00:09:00] And those, those come in the areas of our physiological needs, our needs for safety and security, our needs for love and connection, our desire for self-esteem, and then ultimately our self-actualization. Right? And if you look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and we think about where those needs are embedded in all of us, the one that I think most people can most ardently identify with actually touches upon what is most effectively used in marketing, which is our need for love and connection. Now, when I say love and connection, I’m not talking about sex, I’m not talking about friendship, even though those are a form of love and connection. But really what I’m talking about is the tribalism in humans in that, that will ultimately instigate us trying to be like other people. And there’s a whole cottage industry now of different people’s perspectives on how we are actually too much alike and how the strong-minded person is really different. But if you look at it, there are very few true loners in our society, and most human beings either desire to be like the masses or they create a whole separate mass of people that are unlike the masses. It’s kind of like we’re the different ones. We’re the special ones. But really what you are is the person that’s rebelling against the common thing that still makes you pretty common.
Allison Williams: [00:10:25] You’re just in a larger category of common things, right? You’re in a category of people that object to the common thing. So when we think about how, how people are drawn to want to be like other people, that is essentially what one of the very, very very strong techniques that are used in marketing is relying upon. It’s relying upon the desire to be thought of as one of the crowd being popular. In fact, I often talk about this idea of no one wants the captain of the Parcheesi Club. Everyone wants the captain of the football team right? And there’s a reason for that, the reason is that when something is perceived of as popular to others, we as humans give it more credence, right? It’s the reason why testimonial videos are so powerful, the reason why online reviews are so powerful, the reason why it is so significant that if you are in a larger firm, you are perceived as greater by many, not all. Many people recognize that more than half of the legal profession is consisting of solo and small law firm attorneys but a lot of people give esteem to big law because, wow, you have only an elite number of people that are able to get into that very exclusive club, but it must be special because there are so many people there right? It’s like both. If it’s finite, very few people can get in but it’s also massive because there are so many people there. But we still see is about the popularity of it. What does it say about you if you’re in that club?
Allison Williams: [00:12:07] So I want you to think about that in terms of how these awards are ultimately marketed. What does it say about you that you’re in the top 40, that you’re in the top 40 Under 40? What does it say about you that you’re in The Top One Percent of Attorneys right? The, The Best of the Best Lawyers or The Best Lawyers of America or Super Lawyers, whatever, whatever the organization is. The organization is appealing to elitism and it’s appealing to the idea of scarcity, the scarcity that comes with only a few people get chosen for this and you, therefore, are more special because of it. Now, you might be saying, well, if it’s about scarcity, how is it also about popularity? Well, here’s the reason why because when the public is looking at the monolith of the attorney population and they’re trying to decide how do I know if I’m choosing the best lawyer for me, what’s going to increase the likelihood of me getting a positive outcome? They oftentimes will look at the award and say this award was achieved by someone and very few other people got it right.
Allison Williams: [00:13:15] So you were already at the top of the heap, but in addition, I want to I, the client, want to be represented by someone who is respected by others. And if you are chosen, whether you’re chosen amongst your peers, like in Super Lawyers or you’re chosen amongst your peers and a panel like Best Lawyers of America or you’re chosen by some committee of esteemed people who call themselves The Esteemed, which is what gives them esteem. Right? In these awards that you can purchase, you’re respected by someone other than the client. And therefore, the client can more readily rely upon that endorsement by whomever to say that you are the person that they should choose. Right? So they are ultimately trying to gain that feeling of connectivity with the masses, right? Who would not want someone objectively who is at the top one percent? Everyone would want that and therefore I’m going to go get that. So that’s what the awards are ultimately appealing to, they’re appealing to the need for connectivity, that human instinct, and your prospects. They’re appealing to that human instinct of being connected with others by virtue of choosing someone who is not just connected with others, but someone who also has a quote-unquote, objective criteria, validating that they are in an elite category. So it’s both scarcity, the elitism, and popularity, i.e. the masses. OK, so when you think about that, I want you to think about then should you buy an award? And for you personally, that’s a question that you have to answer, right? I talked about both marketing the award and marketing the antidote to the award, i.e., hey, look, I’m so great! I have this award for hey, look, I’m so great! I don’t have to go out and buy awards like other attorneys. Right.
Allison Williams: [00:15:12] And there’s at least one attorney that I know. I won’t say the jurisdiction for this place, for this person, I don’t want this person to get bashed. But this attorney actually has on his website that he does not buy awards that are marketed to lawyers. And for anyone considering awards as a basis for hiring a lawyer, they should always ask a lawyer if they purchased the award. And he will verify that all of the awards on his website have been granted by some organization, by some objective criteria that had nothing to do with making a payment. Right? Now, that lawyer is probably not making a whole lot of friends in the legal marketplace, but he is a very successful lawyer. He has a very thriving, substantial seven-figure business.
Allison Williams: [00:15:57] So the other thing I want to talk about is the functional use of, of these awards. Right? So if you’re going to purchase an award, what do you do with that? Right? That you just stick them on your website and call it a day or do you actively promote them? And as with anything that goes up on your website, I want you to be thinking about the fact that getting traction off of what’s on your website is an active activity.
Allison Williams: [00:16:24] It is not a passive activity, it is not simply that because something lives on your website, it has value, the value of it, right? I want you to think about your website is kind of like the home base. The value of any marketing activity is to drive people to the home base, which is the place that they can get connected with you for a consultation and then ultimately hiring you. So when we think about your law firm as the home base, you have to also contemplate that that home base is going to have to have something, right? Something beyond merely data about you. It’s going to have and it’s going to have to have something that has curb appeal, something that draws in the eye, that gets people excited to reach out to you, that has people want to work with you and the way that they are, the way that your website is ultimately going to accomplish that is by having things there that will have a person be enthused about the prospect, the prospect of you representing them. But what if they don’t ultimately get to your website? How are you going to get them there? Well, there’s lots of different strategies you can employ to get people to your website.
Allison Williams: [00:17:31] But the one thing that you can use and today we’re talking about attorney awards is your award, right? Every time that you get an award of anything, you should be doing everything you can to put that information out and about in the public domain so that people are aware of it and then can be driven back to your website to make a point of contact with you so that awareness can come in the form of a press release or in the form of a social media post or multiple social media posts. You can do videos about the fact that you got an award, you can put it into email drip sequences. You can put a mailer out, into, and plaster your local community, right? There’s lots of different ways to get it out there but I just want to encourage you to not just accept the award, whether it the award is one that’s granted, bestowed by an entity without your payment or it’s one that you purchased. However, you got the award, if you have the award, you need to use it.
Allison Williams: [00:18:22] All right, everyone, I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. Today on The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast, we have been talking about buying attorney awards and why this strategy actually has some marketing appeal. I’ll see you on our next episode.
Allison Williams: [00:18:49] Thank you for tuning in to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast to learn more about today’s guests and take advantage of the resources, check out our show notes. And if you own a solo or small law firm and are looking for guidance, advice, or simply support on your journey to create a law firm that runs without you, join us in the Law Firm Mentor Movement Free Facebook group. There you can access our free trainings on improving collections in law firms, meeting billable hours, enjoying the movement of thousands of law firm owners across the country who want to crush chaos in their law firm and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. Have a great day!
Allison C. Williams, Esq., is Founder and Owner of the Williams Law Group, LLC, with offices in Short Hills and Freehold, New Jersey. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney and is the first attorney in New Jersey to become Board-Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the field of Family Law.
Ms. Williams is an accomplished businesswoman. In 2017, the Williams Law Group won the LawFirm500 award, ranking 14th of the fastest growing law firms in the nation, as Ms. Williams grew the firm 581% in three years. Ms. Williams won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. In 2018, Ms. Williams was voted as NJBIZ’s Top 50 Women in Business and was designated one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. In 2019, Ms. Williams won the Seminole 100 Award for founding one of the fastest growing companies among graduates of Florida State University.
In 2018, Ms. Williams created Law Firm Mentor, a business coaching service for lawyers. She helps solo and small law firm attorneys grow their business revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money. Through multi-day intensive business retreats, group and one-to-one coaching, and strategic planning sessions, Ms. Williams advises lawyers on all aspects of creating, sustaining and scaling a law firm business – and specifically, she teaches them the core foundational principles of marketing, sales, personnel management, communications and money management in law firms.
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00: 03: 10 (36 Seconds)
Now, what’s interesting about it is that the criteria for selection are usually very vague. It’s usually like you have to have been nominated by someone in your community and you have to have the trial skills or the verdicts or the settlements or the reputation in the community or something like that that would justify you being chosen. And my very best friend, as she was in a partnership with two older gentlemen, both of whom are now deceased, and she shared with me that both of them had actually gotten the awards after they had died.