Oct 13, 2015 Why would a lawyer send direct mail to a married prostitution defendant? How to get clients without sending direct mail
My law firm does not send direct mail. Such marketing is protected by the First Amendment, and I want robust First Amendment protection of such activity and all other expressive activity. Nevertheless, having a right does not necessitate exercising the right, just as I believe in robust Second Amendment protection while that amendment continues to exist, but have no interest in owning firearms (although I enjoyed firing rifles in summer camp).
Many of my potential and actual criminal defense clients experience discomfort at best, and heavy irritation in many instances, each time they receive a lawyer’s direct marketing mail. The letters can pour salt in their wounds, and can reopen the divide they already are experiencing between themselves and their household family members. Some clients do not want their household members to know about their cases, but the direct mails make that goal a challenge.
Clients charged with soliciting or providing prostitution services justifiably fear that such direct marketing letters will harm or even destroy their marriages or non-marriage romantic relationships.
At least the direct marketing letters in envelopes do not immediately reveal their contents before being opened. However, a portion of lawyers’ direct marketing correspondence comes in the form of a postcard, laying bare its message. Apparently these postcards are favored by some lawyers for presenting a message before possibly being thrown into the circular file cabinet, for standing out from mail cloaked in envelopes, for presenting a thicker and more noticeable paper stock, for saving on cost of stuffing an envelope and printing its contents, and apparently in Virginia for avoiding needing to say that the material is advertising material.
Plenty of good lawyers send direct marketing letters, which letters run from circus barker tones of voice to more subdued and respectable messages. Some direct mail lawyers possibly say that they feel that such marketing is needed to keep up with their competition, and some perhaps prefer the days decades ago before the United States Supreme Court and other appellate courts underlined the extensive First Amendment protections afforded to lawyer marketing.
Where do lawyers draw the line at direct mail? Recently I spoke with a lawyer who promotes and sells direct mail marketing service to his colleagues. I asked about at least drawing the line at sending direct mails to those prosecuted for alleged prostitution solicitation and alleged provision of prostitution services. This lawyer told me he knows lawyers who send direct mail for such cases. I responded with my opposing direct mail for such cases, because but for such direct mails, the non-defendant spouse or significant other might not know about the prostitution case and therefore might not lead the way to the destruction of the relationship.
How do I get clients? I have done so with barely a marketing budget except for the modest cost of my former law firm’s weekly radio show (addressed below), other than paying for Internet space for my website, and only this year hiring a great web designer to bring my by-then dinosaur website into the twenty-first century. I bust my butt for my clients, and mainly get clients from referrals by clients, fellow lawyers, and others; repeat work for clients who need it; and my presence and performance in court, activity with lawyer organizations, and presence in the news media, in the local world and in the Internet world.
Getting clients does not start overnight. Working somewhat chronologically, early on I had axes to grind with teachers who tried to discipline me, and in support of human rights, civil liberties and other social justice causes, so by the age of nine I already had the venom and drive to advocate as a lawyer and on the side of justice as I define it. I have repeatedly ignored the naysayers on my road to success.
I got great work experience before law school, during law school, and after law school. I insisted on working part time in high school, college, and of course law school, and full-time for a year with a Wall Street bank before law school, preferring to spend money I had earned for myself than money offered me to simply focus on my studies. I learned to feel comfortable on stage, before judges, and on camera and the microphone by performing trumpet during school through written compositions and improvisation with school bands and a folk rock band, performing magic shows for children’s birthday parties while in school (and now doing magic with my son), and regularly getting behind the microphone with my former law partner Jay Marks for over a year on the weekly one-hour Spanish radio show that Jay started before our partnership and that we sponsored when our law firm opened in 1998.
I learned to enjoy rubbing elbows with and hobnobbing with people from all different backgrounds, whether college educated or not, including many clients and before that sipping moonshine and singing with pre-wedding revelers after sticking my head into a cabin where I heard revelers in a remote Karen village during a post-bar exam trek in northern Thailand.
Before finishing law school, I worked as a law clerk with a federal bank regulator and then with the law firm that I joined after law school. With my law school’s immigration law clinic, I handled two deportation hearings and other advocacy matters with my law school’s immigration law clinic, learning early on the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in the legal arena.
I found great teachers — while finding and pursuing my own style — with only a sampling of my best teachers including Steve Rench, SunWolf, Julian Chu, Ben Lo, Jun Yasuda, Bob Hilliard, Irv Margulies, Randy Shields, and Paul Grussendorf.
I busted my butt for my clients before ever becoming my own boss. My former and only law partner Jay Marks and I helped give each other the push to leave our salaried trial lawyer jobs to becoming our own bosses. We continued the weekly Spanish radio hour-long call in show that he had begun, for over the first two years of our firm, with my improving my Spanish tremendously both by being on the radio show and by having so many Spanish speaking clients with a Spanish speaking staff.
A year into our two-lawyer practice I hit on the idea of expanding my client base by doing adult entertainment defense, which includes criminal defense (for instance representing escorts, strip clubs accused of running afoul of nudity and other laws), First Amendment civil litigation (for instance keeping strip clubs and adult merchandise stores open), and First Amendment and criminal law advice (for instance to adult webmasters and adult websites on such matters as avoiding running afoul of obscenity and child pornography laws). The First Amendment defense includes libel defense and defense of political activists.
Within seconds of my mentioning the adult entertainment representation idea, Jay hit on a simple starting point of calling a local weekly paper-profiled provider of female talent for bachelor parties, who connected me to a member of the Free Speech Coalition board, and less than two years later I became founding president of the FSC’s first state chapter (for the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia). Then the Free Speech Coalition and my presidency of the chapter led to my being interviewed on television, radio and in print about some of the key First Amendment issues of the day. All along the way, I applied myself fully to learning new skills and legal strategies, and to finding new teachers to learn and brainstorm with.
My many media interviews — which I also benefited from executing with sage advice from Jay and other colleagues — about First Amendment issues led to many news media interviews about criminal defense, giving me a further chance to spread the word of civil liberties to the world at large.
As enjoyable as First Amendment defense is, I love criminal defense, and for over a decade have had criminal defense as my main practice area.
No quick fix exists to becoming a successful lawyer. A heavy marketing budget by itself neither detracts from a lawyer’s quality nor enhances the lawyer’s quality, except to the extent that marketing can lead to more clients and more experience, or, on the opposite end, to having too high a volume of work thus diminishing the quality of service.
Watch the magic that happens when you are simply there for your customer or potential customer, without a big marketing spiel. Watch what happens when you fully listen to your clients and potential clients and give them your full presence. Watch what happens when you let your guard down and proverbial lawyer suit off, to simply enjoy some moments with your client when their cases are not discussed and when you are no longer in your rolls of lawyer and client.
My law firm is about representing my constituency of fellow humans, alleged ne’er do wells, alleged misfits, and alleged and actual boat rockers. This work constantly invigorates me.