Mockingbird Marketing should be ashamed.
People can think lawyers are scumbags all they want. Certainly, some of my colleagues are dirtbags. As a whole, though, I think lawyers are cut from the same cloth as the general public- 95% of lawyers are more worried about running an ethical practice than they are making as much money as possible.
I wish I could say that for legal marketing agencies. If you’re unaware, there is no shortage of vultures constantly calling and emailing law firms in hopes of gaining marketing contracts. They’ll sell everything- from writing and creating ads, putting you up a web page, and even ghost-writing blog posts for a generous monthly fee.
If you want a sample of some of the boring, ridiculous, or generally ineffective drivel they post, just do a google search for “lawyer blog.” If the first few links are worth reading, keep clicking. It won’t take long.
Some of them are even willing to put the unsuspecting lawyer’s money into programs that blatantly violate (and eventually get their client’s web presence banned or penalized) google’s terms of service policy.
When you’re a lawyer, if somebody else is publishing words on your account, you better make damn sure you know what they’re doing. Because, as Popehat famously writes, especially in the law, “when you outsource your marketing, you outsource your reputation and ethics.”
A few months back I started to follow the blog of Mockingbird Marketing. Even though, obviously, I try to avoid these people, the blog had some interesting information. Despite his obsessive (but, seemingly justified) attacks on Findlaw he seemed to be trying to do things the “right way.” At least that’s how his “Mockingbird Marketing 10 Commandments” made it sound. Number 5 was refreshing:
5. White Hat to a Fault
Don’t engage in unethical marketing – we are in business for the long term, as are our clients.
As the Bishop, and reformed pimp, Don “Magic” Juan has remarked, though, “The game is to be sold, not told.” Mockingbird Marketing’s “Commandant #5″ is a much sales bullshit as… probably the rest of his commandments. Last weekend he posted something called, “I Lied to Get mockingbirdmarketing.com.” He is an admitted liar.
The short version is that he schemed up some ridiculous story about a band in London needing the domain name, and had some sort of straw purchaser email the owner with a sob story. You can read her (the original owner’s) version to get the important details.
Various comments on the Mockingbird Marketing site are defensive of the deceptive tactic. They echo his original response to the allegations of unethical marketing in that, “it’s all business.” In a strict business sense, that’s true. If this was a dispute between Coke and Pepsi, the tactic would likely be a good one.
Despite what the general public thinks, however, attorneys have to live to a heightened standard that leaves no room for this sort of dishonesty.
That’s where there is no escaping the Popehat quote. When you outsource your marketing to Mockingbird, you’re outsourcing your ethics to an agency founded on lies about a band in London. You go ahead and do that. I don’t want any part of it.
Matt Haiduk is a criminal defense lawyer who practices in the greater Chicago metro area.