At the request of a colleague out of state, I put the call out on a Texaswide criminal defense listserv for the names of some lawyers who would be good to handle a felony drug case in a faraway Texas small town.
As the “I can handle those” responses came rolling in, I realized: that’s not at all what I’m looking for. I don’t want to know who thinks he can handle the case; I want to know who other people think can handle the case. If one of the “oo-oo-pick-me-pick-me” emails had recommended someone else as well (“I handle such cases regularly; Joe Blow does an excellent job as well”) it would have had much more credibility and I would have given the out-of-state colleague both names.
Which is almost what I did: I didn’t forward any of the purely self-promoting emails, but when a Houston lawyer whom I respect responded to say that he had an office not far from the faraway small town, and that another lawyer out there was a “hard worker, smart, and not afraid to try a case,” I sent both names to our out-of-state colleague.
On the theory that other people think and respond as I do, I think there may be a lesson here about lawyers marketing themselves online: the lawyers who use online media blatantly to promote themselves get ignored, while those who provide some information get referrals.
This is true evenespecially if the information is helpful to their “competition.”
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