Don’t Commit Marketing Malpractice

Computer with bullhorn on it
Why Working with a Marketing Consultant is Beneficial for Solos

By: Daniel Anzanello and Charlie Goldstein

Solo and small-firm attorneys may not think they can compete with firms that have more resources. In this conversation, Charlie Goldstein, a solo, and Daniel Anzanello, a marketing professional, share how they overcame that misconception and helped rebrand Goldstein’s practice after three decades as an attorney.  

Charlie Goldstein has been practicing law since 1987 after Goldstein_150graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School. His employment law practice consists of representing employees in a variety of matters, with special emphasis on discrimination, terminations, severance packages, non-competition agreements, and age-related issues in the employment arena. He focuses on facilitating resolutions that are employee-focused. His website is

HeadshotDaniel Anzanello is a top performing, results-driven and energetic Marketing professional with 20+ years of experience planning, managing, and executing marketing projects that enable profitable business growth. He is currently the Co-Founder and VP of Marketing for ThinkOneThing Strategic Marketing Group, which specializes in marketing for attorneys and law firms.

Charlie: I first reached out to you because I had retooled myself to practice exclusively in employment law, which had previously only been a portion of my practice. I needed a rebranding and marketing strategy to suit those needs. How did you first get involved in marketing for attorneys?

Dan: My agency started as an e-commerce agency. While we were focused on ecommerce and building campaigns which facilitated conversions, there was a very real lifestyle problem for me and my staff. During Black Friday and the holidays, those businesses needed a lot of extra attention on evenings and weekends, while our attorneys did not. 

We saw an opportunity in that legal marketing is a specialty in which most agencies will commit ‘marketing malpractice.’ The rules and regulations for attorneys vary state to state and can be surprisingly restrictive. We made the strategic shift to become experts on law firm marketing. We’ve spent countless hours researching professional responsibility, FTC rules and other regulations to protect our client firms from ethical problems in their marketing.

Most attorneys are aware that Chapters 4 and 7 of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct are the ethical rules that an attorney must follow in regards to communications, advertising and solicitation. What they may not be aware of is that they are responsible for making sure that anyone who handles these functions on their behalf—employees and those outside of the firm—must follow the same rules. Failure to do so may mean that supervisory lawyer has violated Rules 5.3(b) and (c) and has also engaged in misconduct Rule 8.4(a)

Further, Minn.  Stat.  §§  481.03  and  481.05 provide that payments by lawyers to anyone other than another lawyer for securing or soliciting clients  is  a  misdemeanor  punishable  by  a  fine  and  90  days  in  jail. It’s much easier for a supervisory lawyer to work with a firm that has taken the time to review and understand these rules.

Charlie: What do you find are helpful strategies for attorneys seeking to venture out with their own practice? 

Dan: Except for a couple of practice areas, most firms we work with rely upon word of mouth and referrals for new business/cases. What they often miss is that the client will do a bit of research before they reach out; yes, even if they are a referral. This is, unfortunately, where a lot of smaller firms fall flat by having an outdated website, using a personal email address (like gmail) or having bad reviews or an online reputation that is lacking. 

A good marketing agent works with firms to audit their online presence through the lens of a potential client and implement a plan to make sure they have an online reputation that matches their aspirations for growth. Once those ‘assets’ are in place, the next step is a custom marketing strategy that fits the firm’s needs and competitive realities of their practice areas. 

 Every time there is a change in social media marketing and dynamics, there is a new opportunity.

What works for me—to keep me motivated and sharp—is the realization that every time there is a change in social media marketing and dynamics, there is a new opportunity. For those of us who remember telephone books, there was very often a lawyer advertising on the front or back cover. The cost to be on that cover was prohibitive for most firms, as well as it was impossible to obtain, to the point that alternatives to telephone books eventually were published. That new telephone book was an opportunity. 

Every time there is novel digital property, technology or experience, there is a new opportunity. The key is to identify the opportunities that reach enough of your prospective clients to make it worth your time, money, and resources to be present there. 

Charlie: Are you still finding some attorneys are being left behind by the constant flux in the theory and practice of online marketing?

Dan: I think even most marketers are being left behind! There are so many new innovations out there that no single person can keep up. 

In general, the most successful attorneys we work with tend to acknowledge, even if begrudgingly, that there is a necessary division of expertise between practicing law and the business of marketing a law firm. 

In the same way that it makes zero sense for me to do the books for my agency (or certainly my own taxes) it also makes zero sense for most attorneys to do their own reputation management or marketing. As a rule of thumb and casually speaking, it is best to hire people who ‘play’ in what would be ‘work’ for you.

Charlie:  Dan, how much study do you suggest an attorney do of the whole social media structure before engaging in it? 

A few years ago, I purchased "Social Media Marketing for Dummies." I have been told it has become totally antiquated in a few short years. In fact, you even told me that by the time a book on social media goes to press, the marketing processes and strategies in it have likely evolved enough to make the strategies suggested nearly obsolete!

Dan: For the most part, I worry about attorneys that try to be experts at marketing. They can certainly figure it out if they make the mistake of diverting substantial attention away from their day-to-day law practice, but it’s rarely the best use of their time.

But, to answer your question, I think the attorney would do best to understand the fundamentals of marketing before they point their attention to social media, SEO, or anything else.

The marketing fundamentals are understanding who your ideal client is and where they are both geographically as well as in their life experience. This is so that you can create content that is valuable to them. One of the keys is to create a budget and a funnel—‘customer journey’ as we marketing gurus like to call it—based on what the average case value is, so that you can track the profitability and success of your efforts. Once you have this in place you can move on to spend time on other tactics. 

Charlie: In your opinion, does an attorney later in their career have a chance in the social media world if they have been captive in a firm and wish to venture out into solo practice?

Dan: I do! I feel an attorney has a better opportunity than they did 20 years ago because there are so many more ways to reach potential clients. There is certainly a learning curve, but that is where partnering with a specialist makes sense. Charlie, you’ve become a prime example. I am very proud of how your firm is taking off in the social media world now.1

The younger generation of clients weigh reviews and your social presence as much as a word-of-mouth referral.

It was important for you to build your presence on social media, because the younger generation of clients weigh reviews and your social presence as much as a word-of-mouth referral. By missing out on this tactic, any attorneys will effectively ignore the under 35-year-old client.

It goes without saying that a modern website is critical to a law office brand—the absence of a modern and highly functional website is a sign to the consumer that the law office is behind the times. Right or wrong, the website creates an impression on the consumer of the firm’s sophistication and even competence.

Charlie: I’ve seen an uptick in calls since creating my social media platforms. 
It's rather uncertain and I would venture to say even scary to hang out a shingle, especially late in a career—even without all the concern with creating a social media presence. Any message for such an attorney?
Dan: Yes, but I don’t know if it is as much marketing philosophy as it is business advice. It comes back to what we were talking about before; practicing law and the business of marketing a law firm are two very different things. 

Most attorneys are pretty smart and are therefore tempted to learn and do everything themselves. This often makes them their own worst enemy in terms of growing their practice and in their overall happiness.  

My advice is to systematize everything and hire out the repetitive tasks that keep them away from the practice of law. 

Charlie: What if an attorney decides to change practice areas, like me, for reduction of stress in an area like family law and trade it in for employment law for the passion of it,  not to mention the change? Is that possible or even advisable?

Dan: It's not only possible, you've done it. Your plaintiff's employment law seems to be booming!

And your client-centered philosophy for doing employment law is now getting the traction it deserves. Your videos on YouTube and other sites are giving you a virtual presence to explain your philosophy. You focus on other elements besides the typical damage-reward focus that often breeds false hope instead of real solutions.

Charlie: It all comes down to an old-fashioned saying from a book I first read when I was getting into law practice. It said that the key to a successful law practice is two words: “Be Available.”  While us old timers have needed to get used to social media, it comes down to the same precept—it’s just being available in a different way.

I do have to give special credit to my son, Asa, at He created the website for my practice and did a great job, both in constructing the site and forming the brand for my employment practice. Just as I am proud of the site, I am proud of the employment law practice I have built—client-centered, bundled and holistic—while going for the big payouts as well, of course. All we lawyers care about is… well… the same things the clients care about.

Charlie: Dan, you’ve written a book about attorney marketing. Can you share about that?

Dan: Yes, we found that hiring a full-service agency does not make sense for all attorneys—because of cost. Further, since the marketing industry itself is largely unregulated, it’s very hard for the average attorney to know where they should focus their efforts to get the best results. I wrote a book to help both types of lawyers: The Law Firm Marketing Handbook.

Mr. Goldstein’s website and biography can be accessed at

To learn more about the marketing fundamentals for legal you can visit Dan’s website here to order your copy of The Law Firm Marketing Handbook at: 
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