In December of 2011, Business Unconventional talk show hosts Dean Rotbart and David Biondo sat down with Colorado’s bike accident attorney, D.J. Banovitz to discuss their mutual alarm over the tactics employed by some – but not all – injury attorneys and injury firms.
Mr. Banovitz shared his thoughts on the ethics of legal advertising and summarized some of the findings of his consumer book, “Legal Advertising Exposed: A Consumer’s Guide to Finding the Right Lawyer,” which is available for FREE download .
Business Unconventional Interview Transcript with co-hosts David Biondo and Dean Rotbart.
DEAN ROTBART: David, have you ever been injured in a car accident or any other type of accident?
DAVID BIOINDO: Yes it was a minor thing where I was coming into an intersection in Colorado Springs and this guy pulled in front of me and I hit him broadside doing about 50.
DR: We have with us D.J. Banovitz, who is a well-respected Colorado personal injury attorney who has some strong opinions about marketing of the legal profession, particularly personal injury attorneys, and D.J., part of what we want to talk to you about is not just attorneys, but I want to point out that although we’re talking to you as an attorney, we could be talking about a physician or any other person who provides professional services in terms of trying to determine where that careful line is between underselling yourself and perhaps overselling yourself.
And so, let’s start, D.J., by welcoming you to Business Unconventional, good to have you with us.
D.J. Banovitz: Thanks for having me gentlemen, good to meet you both.
DR: I spotted you because I was at Tattered Cover, our preferred bookstore, and came across a spin book, but a good book, called Legal Advertising Exposed, which you wrote. It’s a consumer’s guide to finding the right lawyer. And so you’ve certainly been giving some thought from the consumer’s perspective of how to pick an attorney, but let’s flip the coin over and talk about the attorney’s perspective.
In your professional opinion, help us begin to define where the line is between marketing yourself properly and marketing yourself in a way that violates your own sensibilities.
D.J.: That’s a really large question because there’s obviously different ways of marketing, and how I choose to market my practice is that I want to engage the potential client or the consumer, and really as an attorney, entrepreneur and businessman, I look at running a law firm no different than someone who is running a plumbing business in terms of marketing and attracting clients.
There are a fixed set of rules that attorneys have that govern how they’re able to do that, but basically how I approach it is I want to engage the potential client in the conversation that is running through their mind if they’ve been involved in an auto collision or if they’ve slipped and fallen.
You know, what questions are running through their head. I approach it as trying to provide as much information as I can, answering those questions that are running through their head, rather than “Here I am, I’ve settled millions of dollars’ worth of cases, I’m aggressive, I care.” Those are some of the generic things that personal injury attorneys market in the personal injury arena.
DB: Years ago, I think, the truth is that most well-educated men and women would hold their noses and say that any attorney advertising, particularly television or radio, was odious. Has it become so commonplace that it’s no longer frowned upon by other attorneys or by people at large? Or is it really just attracting a specific kind of client that might be the same kind of client attracted to somebody hawking consumer electronics, sort of like the way Crazy Eddie used to do in New York, you know the “Come on down, we’ve got sales, you want sales, we’ll give you a washer and dryer, we’ll give you a personal injury lawsuit.”
D.J.: I think it initiates contact with a lot of potential consumers, simply having that 30-second ad out on there on TV, you know, we care, free consultation, call me, but it’s just not useful information, and that’s 1 of the reasons that I wrote the book, because I want to give consumers a guide, put some ideas in their heads about how you find the right attorney for your case.
In terms of being odious, certainly the volume of marketing, I don’t sit around watching too much daytime TV, but once in a while I am home during the day and I do see a little TV, and it’s frankly shocking.
DR: You should try watching more daytime TV; it qualifies you to be a radio co-host.
DR: OK, so if I’m an attorney starting out in Colorado in personal injury and I want to do my own practice, how do I ethically, by your standards of ethics, how do I ethically compete with those people who just have large amounts of money to spend in marketing themselves as though they were some consumer electronics or the local plumber — how do you, in a dignified way, compete with that?
D.J.: Well, in my opinion, the best and most effective and ethical way to advertise and market is by providing information to the potential client. For instance, earlier this year, I shot approximately 58 videos that are up on YouTube and on my website that cover a lot of topics in my books and some topics that aren’t in the books that people frequently ask about.
DR: Go ahead and give out the URL for your website.
D.J.: My website is coloradoinjuryfirm.com; it’s all 1 word.
DB: And if they want to see your videos, they can find the link to your videos; they can find them on that website?
D.J.: They’re all on my website. Also, I have a YouTube channel, so back to your question about how do they get going, a great number of cases come organically through the website where somebody does a Google search, and YouTube is an enormous resource, and people are searching more and more on YouTube, which is why I have those videos up there on YouTube.
DR: I invited you on the program because I respect what you do. There’s no “but” coming, and I take you to be a serious, dignified attorney, doing a serious, dignified job.
I have to say that sitting here and listening to you, the businessperson in the back of my head says, “Who wants to be the serious and dignified, get an ad budget, get on television, be the Crazy Eddie of personal injury law cases, and you’re gonna just kill D.J. here in the number of leads you get, because D.J. is going about this as this dignified, well-respected sort of way.”
I know you have a successful practice; it’s not like you’re starving out there, but comparatively speaking, you know, to some degree, the thought must go through your head that “Gosh, darnit, I’m a good attorney, I represent my clients well, what you see is what you get, you know, you come in and you get me, my name on the door versus these mass-marketing advertisers who, to some degree, it’s an attorney bait-and-switch.” Why aren’t you angrier about those people who must steal a huge share of the business and in some ways screw – excuse the word – but screw their clients because their clients are buying legal representation like you’d buy soap?
D.J.: Well, I have stuck my head out the window and shouted “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
DR: Felt good, I bet.
D.J.: Yeah, and gnashed some teeth and beat my chest, but seriously, I do find that kind of advertising, the Crazy Eddie advertising, as long as it’s not dishonest, you really can do that type of advertising, and it is effective with a particular type of client who wants to go in for that. I designed my marketing campaign to attract a particular type of client, and I remember growing up there was this clothing store where this guy used to say “an educated consumer is our best customer.”
DB: Still does.
D.J.: Cy Sims. He must be like 150 years old by now.
DB: I don’t know if he’s still there, but it still says it in there.
D.J.: Right. And that’s how I kind of do my marketing. I want, through the use of the videos and the books and the website, that when somebody comes in, they’ve already qualified themselves. They look through the materials, and they see what type of client I accept. I don’t handle a large volume of cases.
DR: Since you’re an attorney, I can put you in a corner. Does that mean that the people who would be seduced by the kind of Crazy Eddie marketing, does that mean that’s not the type of client you want?
D.J.: You’re putting me on the spot.
DR: You’re a lawyer, come on. This is intellectual.
DB: We know that you are the specialist, and if someone as a heart problem they’re not going to go a general practitioner.
DR: But he’s not a specialist. I mean, well he is.
D.J.: Well, I confine myself to just a few areas of personal injury rather than the entire gamut of what is out there.
DB: David, we’re out of time with D.J., so the next time you’re in a car accident, you know who to call.
DR: Absolutely, I wouldn’t go anywhere else.
DB: And D.J., again, tell us your website so that people who want to read more about this, they can get copies of your book there too.
D.J.: Yeah, they can get copies of my book through my website, which is coloradoinjuryfirm.com, or thecoloradoaccidentbook.com.
DB: Well thanks for being with us; we hope to have you back.
D.J.: Thank you.
After Denver Car Accidents, Victims Turn to D.J. Banovitz for Answers
If you or your loved ones have been seriously injured or killed in a car accident in Denver, D.J. Banovitz Personal Injury Law can help. Call us at 303-300-5060 or fill out our online contact form for a free, no pressure, no-obligation consultation and get honest, compassionate answers to your questions.