Attorney Morris Lilienthal grew up in a small town in Alabama in humble circumstances. There was no movie theater, no mall in the entire county, not even a Walmart. There wasn’t much to do. However, his mother did work at the courthouse which was only a few blocks from his house, so that courthouse became the place where he spent most of his time. That is where he began to cultivate his love of law. It also shaped his understanding of how community is important no matter what profession you are in. Eventually, Morris went to law school at Samford University in Alabama where he had the opportunity to intern at several different law firms and develop a passion for civil litigation and trial work for plaintiffs.
“In my second summer and then into my third year I clerked at a very prominent personal injury plaintiff’s firm. It was a very old or established firm,” Morris said. “And that’s really where my passion and interest for doing trial work on the plaintiff side came from. Since the day I stepped out of law school in 2003, I have done nothing but trial work for plaintiffs.”
Success Takes Effort
Never the best athlete in college, Morris still credits his involvement in sports for giving him an understanding of just how much work goes into being successful at anything.
“I think one of the things that really shaped and molded me is my sports background,” Morris said. “I was not the best athlete by any means, but I learned in high school and playing college football that there’s a lot of work and a lot of discipline that goes into having success on Friday Nights and Saturdays. The same thing is very true in our profession—there’s a lot of work. There is a lot of effort behind-the-scenes that people don’t see that goes into getting a positive result for a client.”
Having a healthy sense of competition with yourself and between the members of your law firm team is important if you want to take care of your client and produce the best outcomes for their case, according to Morris. And it’s this sense of healthy competition that keeps Morris on top of his lawyer game. He works to constantly improve the skills he’s bringing to the table so that at the conclusion of the case, Morris can feel confident that he delivered the best results.
Building A Tribe Begins with Trust
People don’t trust lawyers. Unfortunately, it’s true that there are very negative stereotypes about lawyers (and really any corporate entity) that every lawyer must overcome if they want to be successful. Morris understands this reality instinctively and advises his fellow attorneys to face this distrust head-on by focusing on how they can earn the trust of clients and the community as a whole.
“People want to know the person behind the law firm,” Morris said. “They need to be able to connect with you on a humanistic level. They need to know who you are. They need to know your ‘why.’ Why should they hire you?”
The old way of getting attention consisted of an ad in the Yellow Pages or a billboard with a photo of a serious looking attorney promising to fix some legal problem. But Morris says these methods are a lot less effective than building trust with the community where you’re selling your legal services. That’s the type of behind-the-scenes hard work that many attorneys simply don’t consider. Morris is no stranger to community building. He has spent significant and intentional time and effort using social media to establish his law firm brand. He establishes this by sharing intimate parts of his life so that his community can get to know him on a human level not just as the lawyer who can solve their legal problems.
Most notably, Morris has shared with his community the emotional turmoil that losing a son caused him and his family. He has also invited his community to join him on his weight loss journey. Morris understands that sharing these personal experiences can feel scary. However, he says that the intimacy, connection, and trust this type of sharing has created is something that simply cannot be duplicated by cold, generic, and distant social media posts about legal opinions or facts. It’s only this type of personal sharing that helps to build connections where true trust can be cultivated.
“I’m getting people stopping me on the street,” Morris said. “People see me on Facebook Live and Instagram and they’re telling me, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe it. I’m struggling with the same thing. You know, I’m seeing you working out every day and posting a video or a picture is motivating me.’ Because I’ve connected with that person on a humanistic level now, in six weeks or six months if they or a loved one has a legal need, they’re going to think of me because they’ve related to me. They relate to me on that human level and they know I’m a lawyer and a real person as opposed to the guy that’s on the billboard or just somebody that’s sitting in a picture on their website, stiff and behind a stack of law books.”
After losing his first son, Morris started a Family Team for the March of Dimes (this is his sixth year). By sharing his very personal story about the loss of his son, Morris was able to use social media to champion March of Dimes which is a cause that’s very important to him. He’s gone on to give talks about his experience which has further expanded the number of people who have heard of him not necessarily as a lawyer but as a man who is passionate about prenatal care and women’s health.
Building A Tribe Takes A Village
Morris does a lot of work building community and finding his tribe but he doesn’t do it alone. He knows that working alone he would be able to get some basic things done but that it would be impossible to attain the type of reach he needs. That’s why he began working with Get Noticed Get Found (GNGF) five years ago—he needed to focus on the things he was good at and let GNGF do the things he wasn’t so good at.
“There is no way I can do the things that the folks at GNGF do,” Morris said. “The SEO optimization and all the back end stuff that they do…I don’t know that and don’t want to know that. But I know enough that I can stay interactive with them and I know enough that if I’ve got questions or I need to do something I can ask them.”
GNGF – Legal Niche Marketing
When it comes to Morris’ team at GNGF, he likes the fact that he can focus on the things that he’s best at doing but also that GNGF focuses exclusively on marketing for the legal industry. Having a deep understanding of the legal industry has made it easy for GNGF and Morris to communicate. The marketing team understands the needs of law firms and they understand the legal industry market which is a rare combination. Also, GNGF provides each customer with an account manager who can handle all of their needs, concerns, and questions. When Morris has a specific need such as graphics or copywriting for marketing materials, he only needs to contact one person who will farm out the assignments to the appropriate person. Since GNGF is a full-service marketing firm, Morris can handle what he wants in-house and hand over the rest to GNGF without needing to juggle multiple vendor relationships.
Morris and GNGF a Powerful Synergy
Morris has found that GNGF’s flexible and interactive working processes make it easy to get specific jobs done and it creates a powerful amount of synergy on projects. Morris has come up with very basic ideas for marketing his law firm and building community but GNGF helped propel those ideas to the next level by tapping into their vast knowledge base and understanding of today’s marketing tools.
“We wanted to do an Alabama football ticket giveaway on social media, that was our idea,” Morris said. “But where it became a great idea is when we came to GNGF and we told them that we wanted to turn it into a wildfire — we wanted it to catch fire. Brainstorming that idea with GNGF allowed us to say, okay, well let’s create a landing page just for the contest, let’s create an ad targeting just Alabama people who have an interest in football…and in that campaign we were able to capture between 12,000 to 13,000 people just from them sharing their contact information to enter the contest. We built our tribe.”
While Morris provided the basic content ideas, it was GNGF that understood what was possible and created the ads, a landing page and other technical materials to make the contest a viable reality. And it’s that type of synergy that simply isn’t created alone or without a team that has a full understanding of what is possible when it comes to marketing a law firm.
Morris has a few words of wisdom for law firms who want to market their legal services better:
- Be consistent.
- Have a system.
- Get a team.
“Be consistent about following your marketing system,” Morris said. “You have goals that you want to do, whether it’s social media or whatever you want to do. Set it up and be consistent about it and continue to do it and repeat it until you get it refined because what I have found is that people will start and stop marketing. They may not follow through with their marketing efforts or they’re apprehensive about it and they only try it once or twice. What happens is they don’t see any instant success. They don’t see that instant ROI. Results aren’t going to come the first week, the first month and maybe even the first two or three months. It’s taken me a year and a half to really start seeing some great success with some of the social media things that I’m doing. Stick with it.”
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