Halloween Podcast Series Episode 9 – The “Lowball leech” and the “Omnipresent Omnivore”

Halloween Podcast Series <span>Episode 9 &#8211; The &#8220;Lowball leech&#8221; and the &#8220;Omnipresent Omnivore&#8221;</span>

Hello, this is Richard Jacobs with Speakeasy Authority Marketing and Jacobs & Whitehall. We’re up to day nine of the monsters that are there to feed off of and devour and destroy your law firm. You’ve got to get rid of these guys. They’re bad news and there are a lot of them. I’ve identified 26 of them, which is why we have 13 unlucky days, where I describe two monsters per day.

We’re getting close to the end of the marketing monsters. So far, we’ve talked about the branding barbarian, the social media serpent, the Rip Van Winkle of referrals, the follow-up fumbler, the SEO siren, the paid leads pusher, and the new client hopium dealer. Today, we’re going to talk about the lowball leech and the omnipresent omnivore.

These two monsters are interesting because they are attorneys themselves. Let me describe this to you. The lowball leech…you know who this person is. They feed off all the marketing and all the experience and the 30 years of hard work you and everyone else has put into your practice. Do you know why? Because you’ll talk to the clients, you’ll do the advertising, you’ll really get it in clients’ minds that they need legal help with whatever their problem is, and then the lowball leech will come in and say, “Hey, you don’t need to pay that money; I’ll do it for a third of the price. Call me.” You hate these people and I hate them too. What clients don’t know about them is something you can use to fight back against these lowball leeches.

It is a three-part way of positioning your price and your services. This is critical because no attorney wants to do a new client intake or new client consult only to hear at the end, “This sounds good, but I talked to someone else and they’ll do it for $1,500 and you’re asking me for $4000.” Then you think, “What am I going to say to this person?” At that point, you’re on the defensive. To get rid of these lowball leeches who are ruining the attorney profession and are only going to put themselves in bankruptcy court, you’ve got to be preemptive and defend against them. Here’s how you do it.

When you do a consult and you’re ready to position price, I need you to do what I call the sandwich: you go low, go high, and then right in the middle. We can call it Goldilocks. What you want to say to clients is this: “I’m going to talk to you about price and your case. I’m sure you know that there are people out there, the low ballers, we all know them in this industry, and they’ll do it for about $1,000. Those people are charging bare bones retainers, so guess what? The second they take your case, they’re on to the next one.

They have to get as many cases as possible, because they make so little money representing people. They’re constantly on this treadmill to get new clients, so they won’t have very much time for your case. They have huge caseloads because everyone’s attracted to them because they’re so cheap, and they have to spend all this time on those cases.”

Tell your clients that it’s like having a public defender (if that’s relevant to the kind of case it is) and if they need to do multiple hearings, they can’t show up. They’re much more likely to plead them out. If it’s a criminal case, they’re much more likely to cave in.

If it’s a family law case and if the client has kids and a business and a lot of assets at stake, tell them good luck, because the attorney won’t adequately defend them. If it’s estate planning, they may do an off-the-shelf estate plan that really isn’t tailored to their needs. If it’s an auto accident, they won’t really have time to fight back and forth with the insurance companies and get a proper settlement.

Say to them, “Your case may need one of those people, that’s fine. They’re about $1,000. You’re also going to see these other guys, the big fancy firms. They’re marketing everywhere, they’ve got a big monthly net and they show that real high price for good reason, partly to show off and party because they want clients to think, ‘Wow, this firm is expensive. They must be good.’ Sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not. There are mills that charge a big price and have a big name, but they’ll put you with a paralegal or a low-end attorney. That’s the bad side of it, and you’re paying a ton of money just for the name.

They don’t really have any pull with the court, judges, prosecutors, or opposing counsel; they’re just a big name and sometimes that actually hurts them. The court personnel and the prosecutor or the opposing attorneys look down on them because they know they’re just a chop shop. Depending on who comes out of that chop shop to represent you, they may say, ‘This will be an easy one, I’m going to steamroll these guys,’ or ‘They’ve got lots of money, I’m going to milk them and then they’re going to pass that along to you, the client, because they know they charge a lot.’ They’re usually not good firms to work with.

If you pay something like $10,000 on a case and the low-ballers charge $1,000 and there is a lot at stake and you hire someone who is justifiably expensive, that makes sense. They can go to court for you, they can file motions, they can hire expert witnesses, and they can really go to the wall and beyond for your case; that’s what money can help you do. I want to give you some good news. My fees are in the middle. They’re not even close to the highest. I charge $3,500 for cases like yours.”

That’s what you say, that’s how you end it; this is the meat, the middle of the sandwich. Now you’ve anchored it low and you’ve anchored it high. You can say, “Look, I’m not the cheapest because I do a lot more work than cheap guys and I don’t want to have to go chase clients. I want to keep a limited caseload. I want to work the cases really hard and get to know your situation intimately so I can get you the best results I absolutely can. That’s why I charge what I charge. It allows me, in some cases, to get an expert witness. It allows me to file multiple motions, and go to court four, five, six, seven, or even eight times if I need to. It really allows me to get into the nitty-gritty of your case and still make money because I am a business.”

Then you can ask, “Given these three levels, the low-baller, the real high fancy one, and my price, which one do you think your case deserves?” Then, you shut up and let the client tell you. Most of the time, they’ll say, “You know what? It makes sense to go with you.” Sometimes they’ll want to go to the high end. Sometimes they’ll still want to go to the low-baller. But this is a great way to position yourself before they ask you that dreaded question and tell you someone else down the street charges a third of what you do. Don’t let it get there. You’ve got to preempt these lowball leeches and stop them, and this is how you do it.

Let’s talk about the omnipresent omnivore. An omnivore is a creature that eats everything. These especially occur in PI and the big firms that are on billboards, bus stops, and TV. They’re just all over the freaking place, and a lot of attorneys are scared of them. They think, “How can I compete with these guys, they’re everywhere.” Well, I have good news for you: you can compete, because not even half of all the cases in your metro area go to these people. I guarantee you. Some people don’t like these places and they shy away from them. To them, it’s garish and they think, “Oh, man, these guys are going to be really expensive because they advertise everywhere.”

I call places like this for bankruptcy and different areas of law when I do mystery shopping, and a lot of times, they’ll put you with a paralegal or a low-end attorney on their staff. What good is that? You are paying for a name; it really doesn’t do anything. These firms are not able to promise clients that they can get better results than other firms because that’s unethical.

They can’t say, “Oh, don’t worry. We know the judge, we know the prosecutor, they treat us really well, and we’ll get you special favors.” They can’t say that. Some do, and they can get in a lot of trouble for it, and they eventually will. Again, a lot of attorneys are so scared of these firms that they don’t even market. They just give up and say, “Please give me my crusts of stale bread and water and I’ll live off that. Thank you, sir.”

You can never be like that. There are many niches within niches. Let’s take auto accidents as an example. There are auto accidents with uninsured drivers, luxury vehicles, trucks, motorcycles, manslaughter, catastrophic injury, etc. There are many aspects and many sub-niches of every niche you’re in.

If you’re in family law, there’s the 25-year-old who has been married for two years with no assets and no kids and who just wants to annul a marriage, and there’s the married 32 years with three teenage kids, a business, three houses, and motorcycles and boats and all that. These two cases are very different and one will make you a lot more money than the other. Just because someone advertises everywhere, it doesn’t mean they’re going to get the juicy cases and only the crappy ones will come to you. In every single law practice area, there are many sub-niches.

If you’re in DUI law, there are DUIs under 21, DUIs under 18, DUI due to prescription drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol, second, third, fourth, and fifth DUIs, high BAC DUIs, DUIs with breath test refusal, DUI with a commercial driver’s license, DUI with an out-of-state driver’s license, and on and on. Every niche has a lot of sub-niches. Do not be afraid of these omnipresent omnivores, because when the chips are down like they were this year in 2020 with COVID, those guys and gals get killed, because they’re spending $100,000 a month on advertising and if the clients dry up, they’re dead.

That amount of debt service comes like a tsunami to wipe them out. You’re probably in a very good position, you’d be surprised. Keep your debts low. Keep yourself lean and mean and hungry, you can still get great cases, and you can survive perfectly well and miss these omnipresent omnivores. I hope this helps. These are two more of the marketing monsters.

Tomorrow, we have one more marketing monster, and a staff, family, and friend monster. We’re getting there.

Richard Jacobs

About Richard Jacobs

My name is Richard Jacobs, and I've discovered quite a bit about the plight of solo practitioners and small, 2-5 attorney firms like yours these past 12 years.

I've come to understand the unique challenges in marketing ethically and effectively that attorneys face because I have:

  • Helped over 180 attorneys author their own practice area book and become the 'implied expert' in their practice area
  • Helped hundreds of attorneys successfully navigate Google's search algorithm changes, growing their websites from 2 potential clients calling a month to 4+ calls per DAY for some clients.
  • Interviewed and promoted over 507 attorneys nationwide, in practice areas such as:
  • DUI / DWI
  • Family Law
  • Criminal Defense
  • Bankruptcy
  • Auto Accidents
  • Social Security Disability
  • Slip & Falls (Premises Liability)
  • Real Estate
  • Estate Planning / Probate
  • Wage and Hour Claims
  • Expungements / Post Conviction Relief

Before you decide to invest in your marketing, it makes sense to first request your complimentary, custom, no obligation video website review.

Richard is the author of 6 books published on Amazon, Kindle and Audible.com

Richard is available for speaking engagements on direct marketing for attorneys and has recently spoken at the following legal conferences:

  • PILMMA (Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing & Management Association)
  • Las Vegas DUI Summit – Private event for DUI attorneys
  • New York Boutique Lawyers Association
  • Perry Marshall & Associates Marketing Academy (Marina Del Rey, CA)
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)