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Atlanta Attorney at Law Magazine featuring prominent attorneys

ATLANTA | VOLUME 6 ISSUE 1

www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com

MAGAZINE

Miles Mediation

& Arbitration Services

ADR FIRM OF THE MONTH

MARKETING

SPECIAL EDITION


ATLANTA | VOLUME 6 ISSUE 1

www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com

MAGAZINE

Michael R. Braun

ATTORNEY OF THE MONTH

MARKETING

SPECIAL EDITION

2 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com


ATLANTA | VOLUME 6 ISSUE 1

www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com

MAGAZINE

HOLLY GEERDES

LAW FIRM OF THE MONTH

MARKETING

SPECIAL EDITION

VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 3


WE’VE MOVED to

WEST MIDTOWN

... AND WE’RE GROWING

INTRODUCING

Bonnie M. Youn

Sr. Legal Recruiter

Teylor Newsome

Legal Recruiter

Cleo Sloan

Legal Recruiter

The RMN Agency

The 2016 Daily Report Best Legal Recruiting Firm

981 Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard, NW

Ste. 100 • Atlanta • GA 30318

www.thermnagency.com • 678-426-3180

4 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com


Table of Contents

EDITORIAL

6 Miles Ahead in ADR

ADR Firm of the Month

By Jan Jaben-Eilon

8 Helping Your Clients With

“Peace of Mind”

By Anne Cartledge

10 A Champion for the

Underdog

Law Firm of the Month

By Yona Pesman

12 Law Office of Michael R.

Braun. PC

Attorney of the Month

By Elaine Frances

14 The Last White Fulton

County Chief Jailer

“Go Back to Canton”

By Bill McGill

17 35 Proven Tactics to

Maximize Your LinkedIn

Presence

By Magazine Staff

18 8 Stupid Social Media

Tricks to Boost SEO

“Social Channels are the

New Google.” Social Media

Today!

By Magazine Staff

Atlanta Attorney(s) at Law Magazine is

published by: Bill McGill

Bill McGill

Publisher

Jan Jaben-Eilon

Elaine Frances

Yona Pesman

Staff Writers

Scott Bagley

Graphic Design

Bonnie M. Youn

Teylor Newsome

Bill McGill

Contributing Editors

20 SEO Audit Checklist

21 Authority Leadership

Marketing. The Key to

Engagement

By Dave Murray

23 The RMN Agency:

A Legal Recruiting Agency

Dedicated to Diversity,

Inclusion and Belonging

By Bonnie Youn and Taylor Newsome

24 Linkedin Communication

Templates

25 Deal, Cagle Visit Fort

Gordon, Cybersecurity

Training Facility

26 Successful Marketing

By Larry Alton

28 10 Most Common Legal

Mistakes HR Makes

SPECIAL SECTIONS

28 Movers & Shakers

Bill Adler Photography

Jeremy Adamo Photography

Photography

Copyright c2017. Atlanta Attorney at Law

Magazine all rights reserved. Reproduction

in whole or in part of any text, photograph

or illustration without written permission

from the publisher is strictly prohibited.

Subscription rate $9 per copy. Bulk rate on

request. Mailed bulk third class standard

paid in Atlanta, Georgia. Principal office:

2221 Peachtree Road Suite D-460 Atlanta,

Georgia. Send change of address to Atlanta

Attorney at Law Magazine PO Box 14815

Atlanta, Georgia 30324.

Letter From the Publisher

BUILDING A PORTFOLIO OF

“CONTENT”

All of us have heard this expression

before, “one persons trash is another

persons treasure.” Right. Those

words lead me to answer this publishing

question. Do you have this same fleeting

feeling when you submit by-line articles to

“so – called” news organizations?

You personally spend countless hours

researching and drafting the perfect article

then, you send it to the news publishing

companies. You wait to here from

them and look through the pages; and

not one printed or referenced the article.

You’re not deterred so you turn to a public

relations agency. The pr agency tells you,

“we will write your article for a fee and

next will send it to our news sources for

a fee.” Ok. You agree and you wait again

for the article to be published. You have

no idea if it will be published. But, you

paid this high-powered pr agency to get it

published. So you have confidence it will

be published. Was it worth it? Were you

in control of the process? Ultimately you

want your audience to read your article

and to make a judgment.

News, information and content have

become a niche business. Find your target

audience and if you want to reach this

audience through a publication invest in

your work. This magazine targets nearly

13,000 private practice attorneys.

Highest regards,

Bill McGill

Atlanta | (404) 229-0780 | mcgill@atlantaattorneymagazine.com

VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 5


ADR Firm of the Month

Miles Ahead in ADR

By Jan Jaben-Eilon

When attorney John Miles

started mediating, the

legal profession looked

at mediation much like

doctors viewed acupuncture. In those

days, mediation meant a third party

would convey a message, including

numbers, from one group of people in

one room, to another party in another

room. And back and forth, until some

compromise was agreed upon.

“When I started in 2000, mediation

was small on the horizon,” Miles recalls.

“A real lawyer would never do

mediation.” He drove his truck from

place to place, explaining the process

of mediation. He had been a partner

in a law firm, but hadn’t enjoyed his

work. When he told his partners that

he would be leaving to find something

new, they asked him if he would

wind up a number of construction

cases that were in mediation. “I began

to ask questions, and realized that I

could do this. When I found mediation,

I knew that’s what I was meant

to do. I knew I truly enjoyed it and

knew that I could build something

successful.”

And that’s exactly what he’s done

in the last 16 years. As demand grew,

he moved from his truck into his first

office in Madison, GA., in the spring

of 2001. The following year Miles Mediation

& Arbitration Services, LLC,

a practice devoted exclusively to mediation

and arbitration, opened an

office in the Perimeter area in north

Atlanta. Now he also has an office in

Savannah. And his goal is to expand

throughout the Southeast, and then

across the country.

“To say that Alternative Dispute

Resolution (ADR) is a growth industry,

is an understatement,” he says.

“As both population and the number

of claims has increased, it’s more difficult

to get a case to trial. There was

a need to make the process faster and

more cost effective. ADR is a good alternative

to traditional litigation.”

“When I started out, I went to talk

to a judge about mediation, but the

bench was indifferent. Now most

judges see the value and effectiveness

in moving cases off their calendars.

Now it’s the norm to try mediation,”

Miles explains. Mediation offers parties

the option of early resolution and

leads to more referrals to Miles.

In the last decade or so, Miles – a

graduate of Concordia College in

Minnesota and Emory University

College of Law — has tweaked his mediation

method to become even more

successful. Eight-two percent of his firm’s

cases are settled at mediation or within one

week of the mediation. He credits that

success partly on the surveys he con-

6 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com


ducted for a book he wrote about mediation in 2012: A

New Day in Court. He wanted to know what motivated

people to come to mediation and to settle their cases. “I

wondered what separated me from others. I surveyed

people and asked them why they came to mediation.

I thought the answers could be money, fear, justice or

anger, but really, I thought it would be all about money.”

Prior to conducting the surveys, he thought money was

the primary motivator, but he learned that most plaintiffs

are motivated by emotion.

For people who are injured, the process is just as

important as the end result. They need to trust in the

process, as well as have a certain comfort level. “As a

result of the book and surveys, we changed the way we

mediated at Miles,” he explains. “I’ve learned that I must

surround myself with talented people. We are in the

hospitality business. In addition to great mediators, we

also provide an environment conducive to resolution.”

That environment is evident as soon as one walks into

the Miles Mediation office. A person is immediately

greeted and taken to their assigned conference room.

Among the amenities offered are breakfast, catered

lunch, fresh fruit, desserts, snacks and a variety of beverages.

There’s free Wi-Fi, and all kinds of equipment

such as PowerPoint presentation screen and projector,

computer access and teleconferencing capabilities.

In 2005, the firm’s average case settled for $50,000.

In the last three years, Miles has moved to larger cases,

in the high six figures. But for the person who settles at

$10,000 or $1 million, the needs are the same, especially

trust and respect. “We make sure that even if the case

doesn’t get settled, you will at least understand that you

have been heard and that the others will have listened

to what you have to say. The parties get to speak to each

other and hear each other. It’s a feeling of empowerment,

and typically at the end, there’s a consensus. “My

research showed that the more something matters to us, the less

likely we are to surrender control to a third party.”

What really sets Miles Mediation & Arbitration Services

apart is the team approach that Miles developed.

At some point, he realized that he had to establish his

brand. “Brand is people,” he states matter-of-factly.

“When I started the team approach, most were independent

contractors who had a desire to grow their own

practice. It wasn’t about a brand.” The team approach

allows team leaders an opportunity to recruit and train

new mediators.

Each of his team leaders brings unique experience

and skills to the mediation practice. Miles says that

there are fewer than 20 mediators in Georgia who make

a significant living from full-time mediation. Six are in

his offices. In addition to him, those team leaders are Joseph

M. Murphey, David C. Nutter, Gregory J. Parent, Hon. Susan B.

Forsling, Wayne Wilson and Daniel C. Cohen – the latter in the

Savannah office.

In 2016, Murphey received the National Law Journal’s

“ADR Champion” award. He was the only mediator in

Georgia to receive this distinction. “Joe Murphey has

Joseph M. Murphey, Esq.

Gregory J. Parent, Esq.

Daniel C. Cohen, Esq.

David C. Nutter, Esq.

Hon. Susan B. Forsling

Wayne Wilson, Esq.

been with Miles since the beginning,” says Miles. “He was my first team

leader. Joe cut his teeth mediating automobile accident cases and now

is called upon to help resolve high value and complex cases for the best

attorneys in the state.”

Team leader David Nutter handles complex business disputes, employment

litigation, corporate and partnership litigation and dissolutions, and banking and

finance. On Nutter, Miles says, “David is one of the most respected and

requested business mediators in the Southeast. If you have a complex

commercial dispute, then David is the mediator for you. His intellectual

ability is matched only by his integrity.”

Team leader Susan Forsling is a widely respected mediator and arbitrator

who specializes primarily in complex cases involving personal

injury, medical negligence, wrongful death, professional liability, commercial

contracts, local government, civil rights and bad faith insur-

VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 7


AT A GLANCE

Miles Mediation & Arbitration Services

6 Concourse Parkway, Suite 1950

Atlanta, GA 30328

Phone: 678-320-9118

Website : milesmediation.com

Founder:

John K. Miles, Jr., 2000

Firm Composition

Team Leaders:

Hon. Susan B. Forsling

David C. Nutter, Esq.

Joseph M. Murphey, Esq.

Gregory J. Parent, Esq.

Daniel C. Cohen, Esq.

Wayne Wilson, Esq.

Practice Areas:

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Awards:

• Voted Best “Alternative Dispute

Resolution” firm three years in a row

by the Daily Report

• Team Leader Joseph Murphey named

“ADR Champion” by the National Law

Journal in 2016

• Team Leader Gregory Parent voted

“Georgia’s No. 1 Mediator/Arbitrator”

by the Daily Report

• John Miles voted Georgia’s No. 2

Mediator/Arbitrator by the

Daily Report

Other Locations:

Savannah, GA

ance claims. Her long years on the bench bring a valuable voice to

the firm. “Most who mediate at Miles address Susan as ‘Judge Forsling’

but she is quick to insist they call her Susan,” says Miles. “It is

that balance of humility, talent and experience that has made Susan

the go-to mediator for complex personal injury disputes.”

Team leader Wayne Wilson is another mediator who has been

with Miles since the beginning. “Wayne Wilson is the most wellliked

and respected mediator in the state,” says Miles. “His ability to

identify and empathize with others makes him the perfect mediator

for any size personal injury case.”

Miles says that he would not have a Savannah office if it hadn’t

been for Cohen joining his team. “When I decided to expand to the

coast I quickly learned that I had to associate with Danny Cohen.

His reputation as an elite mediator extends far beyond coastal Georgia.

He is comfortable mediating complex commercial and personal

injury cases,” says Miles. As a mediator and litigator in Georgia and

South Carolina for more than 30 years, Cohen handles a variety of

cases involving personal injury, medical malpractice, commercial

and business, premises liability, product liability, torts, trucking,

employment/discrimination, wrongful death and construction litigation

claims.

Team leader Greg Parent has worked as a claims adjuster and

plaintiff ’s attorney, and also handled insurance defense work for

two prominent law firms, dealing with all types of civil litigation

matters. “Greg Parent was recently named the best mediator in the

state and those who have worked with him know why,” says Miles.

“His skill as a mediator is complimented by his work ethic. If Greg

can’t settle your case, then the case can’t be settled.”

For the third year in a row, Miles Mediation & Arbitration was recently

named the “Top Alternative Dispute Resolution Firm,” by the

Daily Report. Additionally, team leader Greg Parent was voted the

number one Mediator/Arbitrator in the state, while Miles himself

was voted number two.

At the time of the announcement, Miles said, “It’s an honor to

be recognized as the premier ADR firm in Georgia. I am proud of

this accomplishment, not because we won an award, but because of

what it represents. It represents our clients’ trust, and it’s their trust

that has led to the growth and success of Miles. Greg’s achievement

is even more remarkable when you consider that he has only been

mediating since 2012. He’s the best in the state and his best years are

still ahead of him.”

These awards, Miles says, are notable “if it helps someone out

there searching our web site and they have more comfort level because

of the award. If the award gets them in the door, then that’s

great. Once they are here, they will feel better. But the impact we

have on people’s lives is more important than awards.”

Miles is bullish about his firm’s future. “The trends over the next

five to 10 years are for continued exponential growth,” he says, due

to a growing population and expanding economy. As more people

interact, disputes arise. “As a nation, we have many issues we will

have to work out,” he adds, particularly citing health care and its

costs. “We will have to work that out hand in hand with litigators.

Fortunately, ADR has become a more acceptable means for resolving

disputes of all complexities.”

As a nation, we have many issues we will have to work out,” he adds, particularly

citing health care and its costs. “We will have to work that out hand

in hand with litigators to help resolve disputes.

8 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com


Work & Life Balance

HELPING YOUR CLIENTS WITH “PEACE OF MIND”

By Anne Cartledge

People who seek out attorneys for

help are either in a “state of discomfort”

or just need “legal execution

and advice”. No matter what the situation,

having to deal with legal matters is

overwhelming and distracts people from

their professional and personal lives. Legal

procedures are important and need

to come first, therefore people find themselves

stressed over the duration, demand,

and intensity of the process. The

reality of time and focus needed when

dealing with a legal situation may result

in clients getting behind in other areas,

allowing things to get postponed or fall

through the cracks, or not get done at all.

Since client’s legal matters become attorney’s

legal deliverables, helping clients

“reduce the distractions” and “ease the

burden” of being overwhelmed during

and after the process can be very comforting.

Anne Cartledge is the Principal Consultant for TaskAnne,

LLC. Her company focuses on organizational

and management services in the areas of Home Operations

and Personal Transition. Anne’s experience

covers over 21 years in home management, 18 years

in the software industry, and 9 years of legal assistance

and exposure which makes her in a unique position to

provide the services TaskAnne offers.

Help Organize and Keep the

Wheels Turning for Your Client.

Two areas of concern for people that

often tend to suffer during legal processes

are tasks associated with (1) home operations

and (2) personal transition.

As a person’s legal representative, you

may find your client asking your opinion

or advice about areas that are not associated

with your specific legal profession or

case at hand. Clients trust you for referrals.

Clients like to pick your brain and

look for ways and ideas that give them “a

peace of mind”. When it comes to integrating,

and allocating the time to focus

on the legal proceeding vs home management

and personal transition, people get

can get stuck and have a hard time “balancing

their time”. Attorneys are in a great

position to continue winning their client’s

trust and confidence by sharing ideas and

resources to help them navigate the steps

and changes that pop up or lurk ahead.

Understanding Areas of Concern.

Identifying areas of concern outside of

your legal services can often lead to repeat

business and new clients. People depend

on their attorney not only to represent

them but to care about them and help

them in general. Depending on where

people are in life, they can find themselves

too busy, overwhelmed, uninformed, uninterested,

or unable to keep up with routine

life demands and tasks. Having an

attorney who is willing to listen and offer

suggestions and recommendations can be

a convincing component of your value in

their eyes.

Offering A Sense of Security,

Trust and Stability.

Attorneys are good at thinking through

a comprehensive approach to give their clients

a sense of security, trust, and stability

through cost-effective ideas

and services to help ease,

alleviate, or remove the burdens

and pressures associated

with working with them.

Part of this approach could

be to identify resources that would help

with time management and stress reduction

outside of your services. Areas that

need consistent attention, more so in challenging

times, are home management or

personal transition. A good resource for

this relief will be able to:

• Deter and reduce the risk of

financial abuse and waste

• Alleviate stress

• Provide the confidence and trust that

things get done in an organized

manner

• Provide relief from task

management, legwork, and detail

while gaining knowledge and insight

into options and needs

• Understand the “big picture” and

steps needed for transition

• Realize costs savings associated with

transition planning and preparation

Who Can Benefit?

If you think about it- you and/or your

clients can benefit. You may be like some of

your clients so you can relate to being super

busy, have aging parents, or know someone

who has gone through a separation or loss

of a loved one. Busy professionals are concerned

with the not only “making” time but

“the value” of their time. Aging seniors

are concerned with being taken advantage

of or not having the stamina to handle life

maintenance leaving them feeling vulnerable,

frustrated, and uniformed. Separating

spouses or individuals who lose a loved one

are concerned with moving forward and

starting over in life.

Offering your clients solutions of relief

while working with you on their legal

matters can only add good merit to your

reputation and leave helpful, positive,

lasting impressions.

Sharing information and suggesting

options are Win–Win situations for all.

To learn more, visit www.taskanne.com

or contact Anne at (404) 323-7936

or email anne@taskanne.com.

VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 9


A CHAMPION FOR THE

It’s clear upon introduction: Holly Geerdes

is a diminutive, no-nonsense, straighttalking

powerhouse. And it’s also obvious

that she knows who she is, where she came

from and what she wants to do.

“I’ve always been a champion for the underdog,

and smarter, more competitive and

skilled than most. I have always believed that

this is a gift that should be used for good,”

she says, explaining why she became a lawyer,

and now heads Geerdes & Associates

in well-designed Atlantic Station offices

planned as a casual, relaxing environment.

A soothing fountain flows down a wall in

the reception area.

“I was born with drive. I was adopted from

South Korea as a six-year-old. I was raised

in Iowa and am very grateful to be raised

by really good parents. My father was an

entrepreneur, which always interested me.

I always wanted to have my own business,”

she says. Her mother was a postmaster. Both

instilled in her a strong work ethic.

“I work really hard and I am really committed

to doing what’s right for my clients no

matter how much they are paying me,” she

notes. Whether it’s $1,000 or $10,000, “I treat

Holly Geerdes

10 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com


UNDERDOG

By Yona Pesman

every client the same.” On the firm’s web site,

it states: “We cater to local businesses and

individuals at a rate that meets their needs.”

Geerdes’ practice focuses on business litigation

and estate planning. One of the largest

litigation cases dealt with a multi-million-dollar

dispute. She says simply, “People

fight over money.” Although she considers

herself a general practitioner who has

wide-ranging legal experience that

encompasses family and criminal

law, her work emphasizes probate

and estate planning for current

clients. Typically, $15 million is at

stake in an estate battle.

Geerdes has been a lawyer since

2000 and in private practice since

2005. During those first five years,

she served as a supervisor on appeals

at the Georgia Supreme Court,

where she established herself as one

of the premier trial and appellate attorneys

in the state, winning several

important cases. As a result, from

2001 to 2005, she received the prestigious

“Case of the Year” award

in Georgia for her winning representations

at the Georgia Supreme

Court. “We’d take the most complex

and pivotal cases that would have

the most impact. I worked to get

the electric chair abolished and on

reversals of death penalties.”

She was named “Outstanding

Young Lawyer” in 2004 by the State

Bar of Georgia in recognition of

her accomplishments. She has also

been appointed by the Georgia Supreme

Court to serve as a mentor

for law students transitioning into

the practice of law. In 2006, she

was named Top 14 under 40 Attorneys

by the Fulton Daily Report

and Super Lawyer on the Rise in

2007, chosen by lawyers and judges

throughout the state.

She describes those early years as

“high stakes litigation” that gave her

tremendous contacts and experience.

One of those contacts was her

“litigation mentor,” Michael Mears. Now an

associate professor at Atlanta’s John Marshall

Law School where Geerdes is an adjunct

professor, Mears was selected, in 2003,

to be the founding director of the Georgia

Public Defender Standards Council after

serving more than a decade as the director

of the Multi-County Public Defender Office,

a state-wide death penalty public defender

service funded by the state.

“I learned my skills in court from him,

especially how he prepares cases,” Geerdes

recalls of her mentor. “He would prepare

every detail and make sure he reviewed and

analyzed every detail.”

She said she misses her work in public

service, but it was time to move on. The five

years fit the timeline she had set for herself

and she knew it was time to start her private

practice.

As an undergraduate at the University

of Iowa, Geerdes received dual degrees in

business and political science, before getting

her law degree at the University of Minnesota.

“I like numbers. I’ve always understood

that law is a business. The challenge as a

sole practitioner is that I have to wear all the

hats. With partners you can delegate, but

even with my support staff, I must oversee

everything. Running a business is the hardest

thing for a lawyer; no one teaches you in

law school how to run your own business.

But you get to a point in the practice where

the law takes care of itself. We know how to

prepare cases. I love the practice and clients,”

says Geerdes, adding that by herself she

grosses over $1 million, while working “reasonable

hours”.

Although she says she might expand her

practice down the road, for now she’s very

satisfied with how she’s built her firm.

“I’m in court four to five days a week, mostly

in the mornings, mostly in Fulton, DeKalb,

Gwinnett, and Clayton counties,” she says,

adding that she was attracted to Atlanta because

of its warm weather.

At 43, and five-feet tall,

Geerdes says it’s still a challenge

for her as a female in a profession

where the majority of lawyers

and judges are male. “I have a deep voice

over the phone, so when people see me, they

are surprised. I look like I’m maybe 22. But

I feel I tend to get respect. I’m definitely not

a push-over. This type of work isn’t for the

faint of heart.”

She feels most rewarded when she gets

a win for her clients. “I hate to lose. I love

when you can get your clients their rights.

But it’s a little anti-climactic after a win. You

need to get intrinsic satisfaction by just caring

about your clients.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, many of Geerdes’

clients are Asian. She’s very active in the

Asian community, noting the large populations

of Koreans, Vietnamese, Chinese and

Laotian in Gwinnett County. “I have a lot of

friends there and they support me. There are

not a lot of good Asian litigators,” says the

former Iowan who never saw Asians as she

was growing up.

On a typical day, lying in the corner of her

office is one of the many dogs she has adopted

over the years. “I rescue a lot of dogs.

Sometimes I even pay people to foster dogs.

It’s soothing to have dogs around. They are

my form of stress relief,” says Geerdes.

An office manager brings in Bella from a

walk as Geerdes points to the family-oriented,

congenial staff that includes three paralegals.

She gives a tour of the former condominium

leasing office, noting that her staff

has access to the exercise room and outdoor

pool. She sponsors events for friends and

family in a large, comfortable entertaining

area and explains that that’s her way of giving

back to the community.

Geerdes believes her Midwestern upbringing

helped shape who she is. “Midwesterners

are goal-oriented, self-directed

and driven. We’re not pretentious and don’t

show off our money.” Apparently, it’s a winning

combination. All of Geerdes’ business

comes from referrals.

Geerdes & Associates

400 17th Street Atlanta, GA 30363;

(770) 643-9912 www.gklawgroup.com

VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 11


LAW OFFICE OF

Michael R. Braun. PC

By Elaine Frances

12 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com

Not many people decide on

their careers while still in elementary

school. But Michael

R. Braun was enraptured by

the litigator known as Michael Kuzak

(played by actor Harry Hamlin) on L.A.

Law. “I loved the show! He was the coolest

character!” Braun decided he wanted

to be Kuzak when he grew up!

Today, the University of Georgia and

Atlanta Law School-degreed Braun sits in

his Marietta office equally in love with his

own practice as a litigator specializing in

personal injury law. Representing clients

who have been injured through the careless,

reckless or wrongful conduct of others,

Braun has won upwards of $28 million

in awards for his clients. In some of those

instances, he managed to win cases previously

turned down by other attorneys.

For example, one client fell and broke

her hip on a curb in front of a major retailer.

Three other law firms turned down

the case. The retail company offered

Braun’s client a settlement of $5,000. “We

tried the case and received a $5 million

verdict,” he recalls. In another, more complicated,

case, he represented the family of

a six-year-old child who had been asleep

in the family’s SUV when it was hit by an

18-wheeler that also involved another vehicle.

The child was declared brain dead.

Braun litigated the case for more than one

year. The defense attorney told him that

his client wouldn’t pay a dime. “A week

before the trial, they paid out $9.25 million,”

which allowed the family to take

care of the youth whose body continued

to grow unlike his brain. “I would have

loved to have tried the case, but this was a

sure thing. I couldn’t take away that guaranteed

amount for my client.”

While Braun loves to go to trial, he

understands that trials are never an easy

experience for the client. “The trial itself

isn’t a good experience. People question

you, your motive, and who you are. Even

when you win, the client feels as though


they have been beaten up and torn apart,” Braun says. “Trials are

the fun part of my job, but if I can get a fair settlement for my

client, I’m always happy for them. It’s also why I love contingency

fees. I have every incentive in the world to help my clients get as

much as possible.”

Braun tries about six or seven cases a year, each

requiring at least a year of preparation. Besides

looking at the case itself, Braun looks for fair judges,

“those who are knowledgeable about the law.”

Braun says there are two kinds of personal injury cases.

There are rear-end accidents, where it is generally pretty easy

to prove liability, and “the only question is the amount of compensation.

But those cases don’t tend to be as challenging. The

ones that I truly enjoy are the ones where things are not as clear,

and you really have to investigate, in order to put the pieces of

the puzzle together,” he says. “The more challenging, the more

enjoyable. There is also a tremendous amount of satisfaction

when I am able to help someone that has been told they don’t

have a case.” Braun noted that the Defendants in both the trip

and fall verdict and the tractor trailer settlement denied liability,

right up until the moment that they couldn’t. “In both

cases my clients had to fight hard, and endure a lot, to get the

compensation that they deserved. I was thrilled that I was able

to help them achieve that.”

Braun tries about six or seven cases a year, each requiring

at least a year of preparation. Besides looking at the case itself,

Braun looks for fair judges, “those who are knowledgeable about

the law.” Choosing juries varies depending on the county where

the case is tried. “You have to look at where you are trying the

case because it also determines how you try it,” says the attorney

who has gone to trial in more than 100 personal injury cases

around Georgia.

Throughout his career, Braun has worked at large and small law

firms, sometimes with partners. But since the first of the year, he’s a

sole practitioner. “I always vacillate about bringing in an associate,

but I like doing the work. I like seeing the clients myself and I like

the flexibility.” And he points out, “Personal injury is one of the few

areas of law where you can be on your own.”

However, Braun explains that he essentially fell into personal

injury law. While he was in law school, he worked during the day

and took classes at night. “That’s where I got my work ethic,” he

says now. During his third year, he worked for a personal injury

firm. “I ended up working there for four years. But I realized that

I didn’t want to be a volume lawyer. I wanted to be a litigator and

that firm didn’t do litigation. That’s what first forced me to go out

on my own.”

The downside of being on his own is having to handle the

details of a business. “Being a businessman is the worst part of

being a sole practitioner. I hate paying bills and figuring out the

phone systems,” he says. “I don’t like dealing with employee issues,

although I love my staff now.”

Admitted to practice in the State of Georgia, the U.S. District

Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court,

Braun is a certified civil trial lawyer through the National Board

of Trial Advocacy and has been a guest lecturer focusing on

the topics of trials and depositions. In addition, he has been

selected by his peers as a Super Lawyer, as recognized by Atlanta

Magazine.

When he’s not at work, the father of three is involved with

his religious congregation as well as high school football. His

eldest daughter “is very vocal about her politics. She talks

about wanting to change things. We suggest politics or law,

but the first step in any case, should be law,” he says, totally

supportive of her following in his legal footsteps.

“I’m one of the fortunate few who truly loves my work. I

like coming to work,” says the New Orleans native. “I like

all my cases. I truly care about my clients and I like to think

I’m stupid enough to attack any challenge. I take on cases

I probably shouldn’t, if you look at the hourly basis. Some

I lose money on. But people need their day in court. They

need representation.”

AT A GLANCE

Firm Name

Law Office of Michael R. Braun. PC

3225 Shallowford Rd., Ste. 500,

Marietta, Georgia 30062

Phone – (770) 421-6888

www.GeorgiaInjury.com

Founder

Michael R. Braun, 1997

Firm Composition

1 Partner

Staff

Alexandra Feldman

Samantha Grant

Megan Brennan

Practice Areas

Personal Injury

Community/Civic Involvement

Sponsor Pope High School Athletics;

a variety of local charities

Awards

AV rated; Georgia Super Lawyer

VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 13


The Last White Fulton County Chief Jailer

“GO BACK

TO CANTON”

By Bill McGill

“Go Back to Canton” Kaye Burwell, lead defense attorney

said in her closing remarks. Sheriff Jackson

said, “Nelson just didn’t talk to me”. The final straw

that broke the camels back was the look! The “look” the Sheriff

couldn’t describe during a sit down meeting. The next day Dennis

Nelson, Chief Jailer was fired. It’s tragic two accomplished

and decorated public servants came to have such disdain for

one another. The week long trial was a he said he said, pissing

match, with the elephant in the room being race.

The first African-American woman appointed to the U.S.

Federal District Court, the Honorable Judge Eleanor Ross presided

over the weeklong trial. The trial was from Monday January

23, 2017 through Friday January 27, with a unanimous verdict

coming at 4 pm. The contrast was clearly evident with the

plaintiff ’s tables all white and the defendant’s tables all black.

This was a federal civil matter and the jury seating of eight was

split evenly down racial lines. The visual optics went even further

as, every witness called by the plaintiff was white and every

witness called by the defense was black.

During voir dire, the very first question by the judge for the

jury pool to raise their number to the question had the word

prejudice in it. Juror number one raised his number to this

Nelson’s September work schedule

question. The process went on for a while until all the questions

and numbers were raised. Juror number one was given the microphone

to expound on the questions on the back of his card.

The judge stopped him and, explained he would not be able to

expound in front of the jury pool because, he raised his card

to the prejudice word in it. The white juror stood as the judge

told him and the jury pool, he would have to come back in the

court room, by himself, to answer all questions because of fear

of tainting the rest of the jurors in the court room.

The former Deputy Chief of the Forsyth County Sheriff ’s Office

became the warden or Chief Jailer of the Fulton County

Jail holding sum 2,500 inmates 24/7 365 days of the year on

February 8, 2010. In his short time as the new chief, the jail

staff did not know him. However, the staff all new where he

came from. Sheriff Jackson’s orders to Nelson were to clean up

the huge mess the jail has become and, get out from under the

federal court order consent decree.

For those who do not know history. 1

Forsyth County is a county located in the north central portion

of the State of Georgia and thirty-five miles from Atlanta.

Back in 1912 one of the nightmarish racist chapters in American

history occurred when white mobs terrorized and drove

out the entire black population about 1,100

people. This was the white response to two

incidents – the alleged rape of a white woman

by a black man and the rape and beating

of a young white woman who died of her injuries.

A lynch mob attacked and hanged one

black suspect. Two teenagers were hanged in

public executions following a short trial.

Nelson a graduate from Bellevue University

in Nebraska and is presently the Warden,

Clayton County Corrections Department

and serves on the board as 1st Vice President

of the GA Chiefs of Police. Sued the Fulton

County Sheriff ’s Office for his firing in October

21, 2010. He was seeking damages in

excess of three quarters of a million dollars

for discrimination and being humiliated by

being escorted out of the jail by Lieutenant

Colonel Mark Adger and forced to wait at

the curb with his bag for a ride home as all

the jail staff watched him from jail windows.

14 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com


Sheriff Jackson

Dennis Nelson

Judge William S. Duffey on one of the last days of the trial gave Sheriff Jackson outside the

courtroom these words of encouragement, “This, too, shall pass.”

On the stand Nelson testified it was well known that Fulton

County government workers face reverse discrimination. Defense

objected and the judged sustained the objection. After a

long pause, testimony resumed. The plaintiff ’s attorney Charles

Bridgers claim stood on the Federal Americans with Disabilities

Act not reverse discrimination and after reporting his disability

when it became and issue. The Sheriff retaliated rather

than make accommodation. Nelson contends

that he suffered from sleep apnea, which required

a reasonable accommodation from the

defendant. He contends that the Sheriff failed

and refused to engage in dialogue with Nelson

about making reasonable accommodations

to his disability. Further, contends the Sheriff

discriminated against him by altering his

work schedule creating false documentation of

performance inadequacies, and by refusing to

make a reasonable accommodation to his disability.

Ultimately, after requesting a reasonable

accommodation and participated in a meeting

with the Fulton County of Equal Employment

Opportunity and Disability Affairs, the Sheriff

retaliated against Nelson by firing him.

Nelson testified in the first quarter he was

there he saved the county jail nearly $700,000 by

cutting supervisor hours. Mainly by moving supervisors

schedules around so sum would work

weekends. Saw staff walking out to their cars

with stacks of food filled containers. Changed

the food service company to Aramark. Banned

staff from brining into the jail their personal cell

phones. Found that thirty percent of the jail cell

locks didn’t work. Started a plan to fix the locks

so inmates were not running loose. Began cleaning

up the jail. Even asked to back date contracts.

All of this caused many enemies.

The result, backstabbing occurred and the staff revolted.

Adger went so far as to tell the jury Nelson could not walk certain

parts of the seven-story jail because, “They didn’t know

who he was!” Adger ultimately became the Chief Jailer and the

Colonel replacing Nelson and holds the position today. Adger

told the jury he did not talk to the staff inside the jail nor socialized

outside with the staff. As he said, “to get to know them”. Nel-

Neslon’s first job performance ranking

VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 15


son just could not understand

the Crips, the Bloods

and, the other gangs who

infested the jail.

Before, Deputy Sheriff

Carter was appointed

to his position he was the

head of the courts for the

department. Equal to Chief

Nelson on the executive

chart. He testified when

he was promoted to Deputy

Sheriff, Nelson then

was ordered to report to

him now and not Sheriff

Jackson. He further confirmed

the defense theme by telling the jurors, “Nelson was not

interested in the people.” “He was not a leader”. Carter was now

making out Nelson’s work schedule. This would have been starting

in late June. Before this time Nelson testified Sheriff Jackson

assured him he set his hours and could work weekdays and have

weekends off. Deputy Carter gave him a month’s schedule with

multiple back to back hour days. Someone without sleep apnea

would have trouble with.

Sheriff Jackson took the stand as the final witness and testified

for many hours and never had any good things to say about Nelson.

During cross the judge admonished the Sheriff to answer

the question many times. Not even when plaintiff ’s attorney presented

the federal court Monitor’s written report in July: Calvin

Lightfoot wrote, “The Sheriff is to be commended for appointing

Fulton County Government

Payouts for Reverse Discrimination.

Source AJC April, 2013

No other core metro county, nor the city of Atlanta, has

a workforce demographics so divergent from the people it

serves. There are indications that the imbalance is exacerbating

resentments in a county polarized along racial lines and

leading to discriminatory employment practices that are costing

taxpayers millions of dollars in lawsuit payouts.

1.2 million in 2013 snubbed for a job being white and male.

1.5 million when the former Human Services Deputy Director

lost a director’s job to a black woman in 2007. A federal

jury found in his favor.

18 million in 2003 to settle a lawsuit alleging that seven

white librarians were demoted and moved to outlying branches

and that one black employee was punished for speaking up

against the transfers.

1 million in 2000 eighteen Fulton County Sheriff ’s Department

staff won a reverse discrimination case in federal court.

Portion of Monitor’s Calvin Lightfoot’s report.

Chief Nelson”. The report when on to state; The Monitor acknowledges

the professional and progressive administration

of Chief Jailer, Dennis Nelson. The Sheriff ’s story told to

the jury was Nelson was actively seeking the position and

only met once. Further, the Sheriff worked with Nelson sister

in the U.S. Attorneys Office and she vouched for him.

The jury did not here the rebuttal testimony of Didi Nelson

who told the magazine, “ The Sheriff actively recruited her

brother for weeks until he finally excepted the Chief Jailer

position”. The magazine confirmed with County Attorney

Patrise Perkins-Hooker the position was not posted and

there were very, very few people qualified for the position.

When pressed did not give one name of another who was

interviewed for the job and, left the impression there was not

even a second person considered.

The jury verdict found Nelson was disabled under the

American with Disability Act but found the Sheriff accommodated

his disability and did not retaliate against him. A

juror who spoke with the magazine had these comments.

The jurors were split 6 – 2 on all four questions. The 2 varied

based on the questions. Jurors felt the enormity of the case.

But, ultimately reached a unanimous decision on all questions

based on finding Nelson did not work the greater hours

necessary to do the job during that strenuous time of being

under a consent decree.

Judge William S. Duffey on one of the last days of the trial

gave Sheriff Jackson outside the courtroom these words of

encouragement, “This, too, shall pass.”

Now, Mark Adger, Chief Jailer and thirty year veteran of

the Sheriff ’s Department sets his own hours and primarily

works the day shift. Deputy Chief Carter no longer makes

out a multi-shift schedule for the Chief Jailer. Sheriff ’s Jackson’s

para-military executive staff has twelve persons of

whom one is white. Dennis Nelson back in 2010 was the one.

Juror number one in the jury pool, his prejudice, was having

one brother who has sleep apnea disability.

References:

1. NPR Transcript 9-15-2016 The racial cleansing.

16 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com


35

By

Proven Tactics

to Maximize Your

LinkedIn Presence

Magazine Staff

1 If you could establish a business network, create a subject matter

expert position, and generate leads for free - would you do it?

2 LinkedIn is a matter of knowledge and practice. Learn and practice

the basics and you can excel.

3 LinkedIn has become my favorite playground, a great place to

meet, greet, share and grow – and the

best place for biz professionals.

4 Those that wait for business to occur

will be waiting a long time. Stop

whining, start working smarter, get

active and get found.

5 Tired of connection requests from

people that have nothing to do with

what you do? Select who can send

you invitations.

6 A LI profile w/out a plan is like a

house w/ out an architect: ugly and

useless. Start w/ a plan- decide what

you want to do.

7 What goals would like to see accomplished

here on LinkedIn. Before creating

your profile, define your goals.

8 Being viewed as a subject matter

expert in your niche is more important now than ever. Generalists

will not make the cut.

9 A profile should tell a great story- your story. It should read like a

book you can’t put down late at night...

10 Done well, a profile can help an individual establish, define, develop,

and display an area of expertise

11 When someone opens your profile, you have 3- 5 seconds to

engage them, to entice them to read more. Photo & headline are

crucial.

12 If you are an expert or leading authority, say so in your headline

and back it up in your summary and experience.

13 Develop credibility in your market, then build your visibility.

Visibility without credibility has negative value.

14 Use your customized LinkedIn profile url in your email signature,

in your presentations and everywhere you face the public.

15 A good profile can be the main way you are found on the web.

Use SEO rich terms and industry jargon to enhance your findability.

16 Your LinkedIn profile also needs to establish your credibility. Do

not make assertions that cannot be substantiated.

17 Building your profile does not mean cutting and pasting your resume.

Resumes are boring, and generally absolutely no fun to read.

18 You want companies that could use your service to reach out to

you, potential business partners to find you and reach out to you.

19 Keep paragraphs short and explain how you can help others,

and what you look for in return. Be very clear.

20 Recommendations trump endorsements-they are real personal

testimonials. Give recommendations to get them.

21 Find people in your network who have legitimately helped you

and give them a recommendation.

22 Goal 1 of your profile is to create

gravitational pull in your specialty

area: your name needs to come up in

every search.

23 You are known by the company

you keep, so choose and accept your

connections wisely. Have a reason for

each & every one.

24 NEVER send the LI connecting

“form letter”- ALWAYS offer a reason

you’d like to connect. This makes you

memorable immediately.

25 Consider sending a quick “thank

you” note to those who connect.

99%+ don’t do this, so it will help you

stand out.

26 Look up people you read about

in trade publications, the people who quoted and the people who

write. Both may be key connections.

27 Select groups predicated on your goals; will you meet the right

people, share info, make connections and gain visibility?

28 Visibility is predicated on activity; credibility by adding value.

Gain both by posting good content and making great comments.

29 Credibility is developed by being good at what you do, always

working at getting better, and adding value to your community.

30 The “Share” button is on blog & publications sites for a reason-

USE IT & share pertinent articles in your groups.

31 Always take the time to comment on anyone who responds to

one of your discussions. Accessibility adds to credibility.

32 So one of the best ways to find groups? Look at the groups of

industry & thought leaders and other influencers.

33 Need to get on the radar of an editor of an important magazine?

Start posting their articles in your groups and commenting

on them.

34 Too much self-promotion destroys credibility. Develop a good

ratio for what you post & include a healthy dose from other sources.

35 You don’t have to participate daily, but participation at least

weekly in any raises your visibility to that community.

VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 17


8 Stupid Social Media

Tricks to Boost SEO

“SOCIAL CHANNELS ARE THE NEW GOOGLE.” SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY!

By Magazine Staff

It’s tempting to view social media and SEO as two separate entities,

but in our experience these two elements of digital marketing

are interwoven. Using appropriate search terms in your social

media posts helps users find your most relevant content and

clearly spells out what’s being offered. In turn, social media shares

greatly benefit your search engine visibility in the following ways:

• By helping your site get indexed faster

• By building links

• By harnessing the power of influencers

• By establishing credibility

• By using social network names as key

words to help people find your business

• By giving people another place to

find your location from a mobile

device

• By keeping your business

listing fresh

• By providing you with

additional SEO metrics

Google has never come out

and explicitly stated that “more

shares = higher rankings,” but

in our experience and testing,

we have found the connectionundeniable.

The more your content

is shared, the more links you

get back to your site and the more

Google notices, “Hey, this content is

useful to readers!”

1. Share on Social!

This point may seem obvious, but you’d be

surprised how many companies get this dead wrong.

Common missteps include:

• Sharing content just one time. Your fans aren’t all using

social media at the same time. Honestly, it’s highly unlikely that

they’re coming to your account each day to see what you have to

say. Most people stumble across share-worthy content browsing

their current news feeds, so if you have something substantial to

say, you want to be sure people are seeing it. We share each blog

post seven times on Twitter, three times on LinkedIn and twice

on Facebook. We choose different days and times to spread it out

over the course of the month, but we make sure no one misses

out on our great marketing tips that way.

• Repeating the same exact post. That said, you don’t want to

repeat the same post word-for-word over and over again. Mix

up the image you use and the language of your post, but link to

the same blog. Add a mix of status updates, images, videos and

linked articles in between to continue providing value to your

readers. Posting randomly. Sign up for a free account at Hoot-

Suite to schedule your posts in advance at regular intervals. Be

sure to post at least every couple of days (if not every day) to

stay fresh in your followers’ and fans’ minds. Conduct research

to find out when your core demographic is using social media.

If you need help with this aspect of social media management,

Using link shorteners. Naked URLs count as direct links back

to your site – which will improve your visibility in

search engines. It’s unclear whether the “link

juice” of link shorteners like Bit.ly and

Ow.ly — or even shorteners sponsored

by Twitter and Google, for that matter

– translate into better search positioning.

Instead, focus your efforts

on creating a unique, short,

keyword-rich URL as you write

each blog post – keeping social

sharing in mind.

2. Make it Easy for Others

to Share!

Make sure you have social

share icons on your website and

directly on all blog posts. The old

adage “Ask and you shall receive” is

very true of social shares. Know your

influencers and ask them to share. The

more people you have sharing your content,

the more Google is going to see your post as relevant

and popular – and, in turn, the higher it will

rank in the search engine results.

- One tool we love is AddThis, which lets you add beautiful

social sharing buttons to your posts and has great ‘related posts’

features to keep users on your site longer.

- Use ClickToTweet to embed easily tweetable snippets of your

blog posts within the article.

- Run the Headline Analyzer to see if your title will resonate

with social media users.

3. Choose Compelling Images!

Articles with images get 94% more views, so the images you add

to your blog are an important consideration. You want to make

18 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com


Using appropriate search terms in your social media posts helps users find

your most relevant content and clearly spells out what’s being offered.

them compelling. We create our own colorful, unique header images

in-house for aesthetic purposes and dig for infographics and

stand-alone images that increase the value of our posts. When

you upload images, be sure you’ve optimized the ALT TAG and

TITLE TAG using relevant keywords. Adding a caption that contains

keywords is a wise maneuver too!

4. Consider Semantic Markup for Your Blog Posts!

As Social Media Explorer explains, “Semantic markup is a fancy

way of saying you can use HTML tags to tell search engines

exactly what a specific piece of content is.” You essentially tell the

search engines who wrote the blog post, what language is coding

versus what is content, and when a string of words should be interpreted

as an address. If you use WordPress, the Yoast Plugin

provides a simple way to accomplish semantic markup. Just be

sure you fill out the fields completely.

Yoast is a worthwhile WordPress plugin because it:

• Optimizes each blog for search engine ranking

• Analyzes pages and posts for keyword optimization

• Generates an XML sitemap to index your URLs and alert

search engines of new posts

• Optimizes content for social sharing

Also, make sure you also fill out the card data in the main

settings of the Yoast Plugin on WordPress.

Google lets you embed code in your website to showcase your

social profiles right in the search results. All you have to do is

grab code from the Google Developers site to make this happen.

Be sure to do this for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and

Google+.

5. Write Catchy Headlines!

The old advice of including a keyword in your headline never

hurts for SEO. As you know, though, it takes a lot more to craft a

headline that turns heads and solicits social media shares. As we

told BuzzSumo recently, one of our most popular headlines was

“How Home Depot’s Marketing Strategy Is Paying Off ” because

the title reflects the name of a major brand people are familiar

with and invites them to learn the secrets behind their strategy.

Our audience of competitive entrepreneurs and forward-thinking

marketers were eager to translate replicable tactics into tangible

sales.

Depending on your personality, you may choose to turn heads

with a bit of unexpected sexual innuendo -- like the term “social

media slut” or the phrase “multiply your followers like rabbits”…

or touch upon a common theme – like the anatomy of a perfect

tweet or strategies for beating procrastination once and for all.

Lists have always been successful, as have posts that directly

state the contents of the article in the clearest terms possible. Aim

to spark curiosity with your title. Promise something of value.

It is also beneficial to know what your audience is searching

for. Head over to Google’s Keyword Planner and find the best

phrases that people are actually typing in. If you want even more

keywords, including long tail keywords, use UberSuggest.

6. Optimize Tweets for Search!

Tweets are like any other type of content. Your approach need

to be strategic. Here’s a quick checklist of tweet optimization

steps you can take from Social Media

Examiner:

• Use Twitter Analytics to review your tweets.

• Include relevant keywords and tweet on topics your

audience is most curious about.

• Keep tweets 120 characters or less.

Ask for retweets.

Update your profile image, link and bio for campaigns and

events. In addition to optimizing Tweets (and Facebook posts)

with keywords, Social Media Examiner also recommends including

keywords in YouTube posts and on Pinterest boards.

7. Find Relevant Hashtags!

Keep a pulse on what people are talking about and join conversations

that are relevant to your business. Search for people who

are looking for products or services you provide, who are asking

questions, or who are using terms like “recommendations”,

“looking for” or local city names. Sites like hashtagify.me and

hashtags.org can help you find popular and trending hashtags.

Using smart hashtags increases your odds of getting retweets and

translates to better exposure for your tweets and posts.

8. Use Free Social Bookmarking Sites!

Help people find your content by promoting your articles and

webpages on social bookmarking sites. Submitting your article

details is a quick and easy process worthy of your time and effort.

According to BloggersIdeas.com, “Technorati, Folkd, Blinklist,

Digg, Pinterest, Diigo, Del.icio.us, Reddit, and StumbleUpon are

some of the wellknown and top most social bookmarking websites.”

We use OnlyWire.com to automate this process Following

these 8 stupid simple steps will help, but only if you have a super

optimized, SEO-friendly page. Want to make sure your website is

fully optimized? Check out this checklist we made for you!

VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 19


SEO AUDIT CHECKLIST

ON-SITE ANALYSIS

COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS KEYWORD RESEARCH

Health

Check

Usability

Review

Competitive

Site List

Traffic

Analysis

Creating the

keyword list

Grade

Keywords

Perform a site search

(“site: www.yourdomain.com”)

Perform brand searches

(products/service name)

Review the total pages

indexed

Duplicate content review

(www vs. non-www, etc.)

Content

Review

Site load time

Home page layout

Landing interior pages

Keyword focus

Quality/frequency of

CTA

Server Redirect/

Response Codes

Industry competitors (primary market)

List 3 - 5 leaders of industry and

direct competitors

Niche competitors (secondary market)

List 2 - 3 competitors that specialize

in specific areas of your industry

Industry blogs, publications, associations

List 25 - 50 influential industry sites

Content

Analysis

Alexa.com

Compete.com

Hitwise.com

Quantcast.com

Semrush.com

Link

Analysis

Enter website and competitors’

sites/pages to Google Keyword tool

Service

Product

Details

Features

Benefits

Pull keywords currently driving

traffic from analytics

Survey customers (past/present)

Relevance

Volume

Difficulty (organic, paid)

Value per conversion

Estimate cost of traffic

Research

Tools

Ubersuggest

Quality

Length

Hunam or goal-focused

Ease or read/use

Page

Structure 1

301 302

307 404

410 500

503

Page

Structure 2

Top pages Link building potential

Quality Types of content

Frequency Calls to action

UniquenessUser-generated content

Social

Media

Total number of inbound

links

Total number of linking

domains

Link building content

Quality of links

Source of link generation

Ease of replication

Listen on social channels via

Social Mention or Topsy

Find out what is preventing your site from

ranking well in the search engines. Learn

what requires your immediate attention.

ON-SITE ANALYSIS

Soolve

Search-friendly URLs

Complete and relevant

Title Tags

Unique, relevant

Meta Descriptions

Number of links on the

page

Review of internal link

structure (including anchor text)

Image names

Image sizes

Semantic HTML review

Active channels

Level of engagement

Frequency

Relationship with influencers

Personal brands within the

brand

Distribution channels

Understand why your competitors are

out-performing you online. Get a grasp of

what you should be doing to catch up.

COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS

Discover where you should start for nextstep

site improvements. Unleash the

potential fo a higher ranking in the SERPs.

KEYWORD RESEARCH

20 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com


Authority Leadership Marketing

THE KEY TO ENGAGEMENT

By Dave Murray

Why did Symantec fund a study

on the impact of customer data

breaches on brand trust and

reputation? What made SGI and Intel embrace

an IT sustainability agenda called

Think Eco-Logical? Why does Adaptive

Planning conduct a quarterly Business

Volatility and Variables Audit targeting

midmarket CFOs?

These are just a few examples of successful

authority leadership marketing

initiatives at work as B2B companies seek

to connect and engage with their markets

using more relevant, customer-centric content

delivered in new digital formats and

channels. Marketers increasingly recognize

that they must become thought leaders,

knowledge brokers, and insightful publishers

to build rapport with target audiences

and create strategic conversations with decision

makers and influencers. This means

paying more attention to content marketing

performance, impact, and return on

investment, particularly as it relates to lead

acquisition, customer predisposition, trust

building, and shortening of selling cycles.

Dave Murray is the Executive Vice President of

GlobalFluency, Inc. An innovator and architect of authority

leadership marketing, Murray leads the content

marketing practice of GlobalFluency, which is based in

Silicon Valley. His firm operates a number of international

executive affinity networks, including the Chief

Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and the Business

Performance Innovation (BPI) Network.

Bringing more rigor, creativity, and

strategic thinking to content specification,

origination, packaging, and delivery

is now a strategic imperative for marketers

as they seek to drive content consumption

and knowledge sharing. Sales

and channel organizations recognize the

need to prime their pipelines and upsell

and cross-sell customers with credible,

strategic content. Companies, both global

and emerging, realize the need to use

content to drive brand relevance and

authority. Content investments by B2B

technology companies now account for as

much as 25 percent of marketing budgets

(CMO Council). And this percentage will

continue to grow, fueled by multiplying

formats, delivery channels, platforms, audiences,

device types, and consumption

rates worldwide.

Content marketing within the B2B

sector is being driven by an upsurge in

executive participation in the strategic

procurement process, as well as the ready

availability of meaningful decision support

content, affinity groups, and professional

peer networks on the Internet.

There is an increasing opportunity for direct

market engagement— for reaching,

aggregating, and segmenting customer

audiences while bypassing traditional

media and analyst avenues. To do so, marketers

are developing and outsourcing

some of the same skill sets and resources

of those more traditional media and analyst

groups. They are forming their own

shared interest communities and channels

of insight, access, and influence.

Today’s “digital content factories” have

to run at full capacity to keep pace with

rapid changes in market conditions, customer

sentiments, competitive threats,

and technology advancements. Marketers

have to become adept at listening and responding

to the “voice of the customer,”

which requires a new form of intelligent

market engagement and continuous interaction

around customer issues, problems,

pain points, risks, vulnerabilities,

deficiencies, and challenges. With more

and more digital content publishing, syndication,

conversation, and distribution

channels proliferating—such as websites,

customer communities, social media

channels, online business networks, Internet

forums, discussion groups, blogs,

podcasts, on-demand webcasts, video

portals, mobile devices, email, SMS

text messaging, IPTV, web conferencing

systems, and live virtual event environments—content

has to be configured and

produced in a multiplicity of formats and

delivery modes to optimize consumption,

recall, sharing, influence, and action.

To be successful in this new ethos, marketers

must put into place clear content

development strategies and effectiveness

auditing protocols. Rather than delivering

self-serving messages, they must speak to

relevant themes and topic areas, author

higher-quality content that is more visual

and engaging, as well as build efficient

content syndication networks that maximize

audience reach and activation. They

must put into place performance measurement

and tracking systems to assess

the performance, impact, and payback of

their content marketing programs.

Relevance Drives Consumption

Relevance is the essential attribute B2B

marketers must deliver in order to be

successful in content marketing. Content

cannot just be about your company

and your product; it has to be about your

audience. Content being generated by

winning companies today goes well beyond

traditional trumpeting of product

features and functions, speeds and feeds,

and deals and deployments. In today’s

multi-channel, searchoriented media

landscape, corporate buyers, specifiers,

and influencers tend to tune out traditional

marketing communications. They

spend more time conducting independent

research on the web and obtaining

information and advice from peers and

other trusted third-party sources.

VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 21


Numerous studies have demonstrated

that peers are the most trusted and influential

sources of advice and information

among B2B decision makers. B2B buyers

depend on peer advice more than any

other source in forming purchase decisions.

Thus, affinity networks of professionals

who share similar challenges and

needs are a rich resource for content creation

and insights.

Central to an effective content marketing

program is the definition of a strategic

advocacy agenda and point of view. This

comes out of exhaustive online and offline

discovery as well as invention sessions

and continuous engagement with partners,

customers, and the channel. Online

surveying and perception polling, as well

as social and live interactions, can add

credibility and substance to this form of

advocacy and thought leadership.

For example, with the Think Eco-Logical

advocacy program, SGI and Intel

were able to engage CIOs and other IT

executives in an in-depth conversation

about the cost savings and environmental

improvements obtainable through

server consolidation and more power-efficient

platforms. An executive survey

and study report advocating energy-saving

practices generated more than 1,000

downloads while driving significant

online discussion and media coverage.

The Think Eco-Logical program created

further advocacy and interaction with

its target audience through the creation

of a graphical appealing, “video gamelike”

eco-IT monitor that executives

used to calculate the impact of data

center changes on energy costs and carbon

emissions. This not only delivered a

value-added service, but also generated

rich customer profiling information and

contact data for further nurturing and

cultivation. Peer networks of executives

provide builtin communities for content

marketing engagement. Professionals

with shared challenges and issues can

spark highly relevant insights and discussions

for others inside and outside of

the network. When Oracle’s ondemand

CRM business unit teamed with the

CMO Council to launch a campaign to

improve integration and alignment of

traditionally divided sales and marketing

functions, the result was the creation

of The Coalition to Leverage and Optimize

Sales Effectiveness (CLOSE—www.

closebiz.org).

22 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com

High-level brainstorm sessions on sales

and marketing integration engaged targeted

audiences in Paris, London, Sydney,

Sao Paulo, New York, and Silicon Valley,

each creating a best-practice report that

was syndicated worldwide and generating

some 15,000 leads. During a six-month

period, this affinity network aggregated

and touched more than 27,000 executives

and professionals worldwide through outreach,

events, surveys, and global media

relations. The dedicated www.closebiz.

org website continues to aggregate content,

commentary, and community, providing

a rich and robust channel of market

engagement for sponsoring brands.

To underscore and highlight the need

for improved business intelligence systems

and better decision economics,

Cognos teamed with the Business Performance

Management (BPM) Forum—

now the Business Performance Innovation

(BPI) Network. This C-level peer

network brought together executives

concerned with the speed and quality of

decision making within their enterprises.

DecisionROI put the issue of decision

economics into play and aggregated a

large executive audience through the creation

of a dedicated campaign site, social

and traditional media engagement, and

publication of a variety of reports and online

advocacy content, including insights

from interviews with top executives and

an online survey of hundreds more.

Symantec took another innovative approach

to generating customer demand

by making data security a strategic business

issue that embraced a broad set of

business decision makers across the marketing,

finance, investor relations, operations,

and supply chain sectors. It implemented

a content marketing campaign

called “Secure the Trust of Your Brand,”

which included executive and consumer

surveys in North America and Europe,

as well as a study by Emory University of

15 leading brands that had been compromised

by customer data breaches. This

analysis included a look at the loss of

shareholder value, tonality and sentiment

of media coverage relating to reputation,

and the business continuity impact relative

to both suppliers and customers. Survey

data revealed a significant percentage

of consumers were concerned about digital

security and would not continue to

do business with a company that exposed

their personal information to hackers and

cyber bandits. Not only did the study attract

worldwide attention, but authors of

the report were invited to present findings

at the seminal Visa Security Summit

in Washington, D.C., which was attended

by leading government agencies, bankers,

retailers, and other key customer targets

for Symantec.

Most companies in complex,

multi-channel markets such as information

technology, business solutions,

communications, connectivity, security,

audio/video, professional services,

and industrial systems need to assume

thought leadership positions and provide

meaningful insights, perspectives,

and commentary on market needs, problems,

issues, trends, and requirements.

In most cases, the knowledge capital and

authority leadership come from effective

market engagement, real-time customer

feedback and listening, primary research,

media analytics, as well as regular monitoring

and mining of conversations and

discussions in online communities, affinity

groups, forums, blogs, newsgroups,

and bulletin boards.

The real challenge for marketers is

to define strategic agendas and develop

advocacy platforms that condition and

predispose decision makers, enable conversations

and introductions, gain prominence

and visibility, as well as harvest

opportunities and prospects for sales,

business development, and partnering.

Too few companies have formal content

development strategies, relevant content

creation themes and topic areas, efficient

content origination capabilities, effective

content delivery networks or channels,

or measurable content performance and

tracking systems.

Random acts of content development

occur across the organization without

unifying and consistent themes, messages,

brand value, or visual identity reinforcement.

The CMO Council’s new Content

ROI Center is aimed at raising the caliber

of content produced in organizations,

as well as the impact and influence this

content might have on brand awareness,

perception, deal contention, and buyer/

specifier consideration. It will also look at

the role and value of marketing content in

the process of sales lead acquisition, qualification,

conversion, and closure, as well

as its contribution to ongoing customer

retention and revenue generation.


The RMN Agency:

A Legal Recruiting Agency Dedicated to Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging

By Bonnie Youn and Taylor Newsome

In the legal industry of today and tomorrow,

firms and corporations understand

that Diversity, Inclusion and

Belonging (DIB) initiatives are key to

hiring and retaining top talent.

We know that diversity is good for

business. Paulette Brown, Past President

of the ABA and the first African American

woman to ever serve in that position,

recently remarked on what studies

demonstrate to be true: “[C]companies

with women on their Board of Directors

outperform those with all-male boards.

Companies with more racial diversity

outperform companies with less, and

law firms with greater diversity outperform

firms with less diversity, even controlling

for other variables.”

Yet today, the legal profession is still

one of the least diverse of all comparable

professions. Less than 10 percent

of top Biglaw rainmakers are women or

minorities. If the trend continues, then

law firm leadership will not continue to

evolve. At BigLaw, women account for

only 17% of equity partners, and only 7

of the nation’s 100 largest firms have a

woman as chairman or managing partner.

Although blacks, Latinos, Asian

Americans and Native Americans now

constitute about a third of the population

and a fifth of law school graduates,

they make up fewer than 7 percent of law

firm partners and 9 percent of general

counsels of large corporations. In major

law firms, only 3 percent of associates

and less than 2 percent of partners are

African Americans.

At The RMN Agency, DIB is not just a

buzzword—we epitomize it. Take a look

at who we are:

• Our President Raj Nichani, a former

BigLaw attorney, began RMN as a

dream—to become a premier boutique

legal recruiting agency so that we could

proactively make a difference in the

legal industry. He is a former President

and current Boardmember of the

Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar

Association and a past Boardmember

of the South Asian Bar Association of

Georgia.

• Jane Morrison, Head of Business

Development, served as Admissions

Director at two private schools and successfully

fulfilled a mandate to increase

student diversity. Jane worked with

Educational Testing Service to revise

standardized tests to be more reflective

of the life experiences of a diverse

student population. She also worked

the Girl Scouts to recruit a more diverse

membership by training recruiters and

creating marketing materials written in

seven different languages.

• Waqar Khawaja, Sr. Legal Recruiter,

graduated from Mercer University

Law School in 2011. A first generation

Pakistani American, Waqar and his

friends founded a non-profit sports

foundation welcoming to children of all

diverse backgrounds to nurture their

sports ambitions.

• Bonnie Youn, Sr. Legal Recruiter,

practiced immigration law for nearly

two decades before joining RMN. Ethnically

Korean but born in the Philippines,

she is passionate about supporting

immigrants and the advancement

of minorities in the legal and political

fields. Like Raj Nichani, she has also

served as Past President and Board

member of the Georgia Asian Pacific

American Bar Association, and has

chaired events to bring Asian American

Legislative Day to the Georgia Capitol.

• Sara Hamilton, Sr. Legal Recruiter,

graduated from Emory Law and maintains

her practice in Labor & Employment

in a BigLaw firm. She is a Korean

American adoptee, and is one of the

founding officers of the Korean American

Bar Association of Georgia, where

she serves on the Board.

• Teylor Newsome, Legal Recruiter,

graduated from Clemson University in

May 2016. She is an active member of

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the oldest

Greek-letter organization founded by

African American college women.

• Cleo Sloan, Legal Recruiter, is a recent

graduate of Johns Hopkins University’s

M.A. in Museum Studies program

and is passionate about Art Business,

Museum, and Cultural Heritage Law.

She also studied abroad, receiving her

Bachelor’s degree at the University of

Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines,

attending an art business program at

Oxford University in London and Paris,

and completing an independent study

program in High Italian Renaissance

in Italy. She is an active board member

and serves as a regional councilor of

international fraternal benefits organization,

Foresters Financial.

• Matt Busch began as an administrative

assistant to Raj, and has since been

elevated to our facility office manager.

Matt has been active in LGBTQ issues,

and maintains his strong ties in the

local Atlanta theater community.

Our staff fully reflects our commitment

to DIB. Every piece of the puzzle

matters because diversity extends

beyond the visible surface of ethnic

background and gender, but a whole

spectrum of factors, including but not

limited to socioeconomic status, age,

nontraditional careers, sexual orientation,

religion, or disability.

Nationally renowned diversity and inclusion

leader Pauline Higgins once observed:

“Diversity is being invited to the

party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”

RMN is committed to help you get out

on the dance floor and strut your stuff!

References

1. May 15, 2016: 4 Ideas For Advancing

Diversity And Inclusion In The

Legal Profession, http://abovethelaw.

com/2016/05/4-ideas-for-advancing-diversity-and-inclusion-in-the-legal-profession/

VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 23


LINKEDIN

COMMUNICATION TEMPLATES

These templates are meant to be a starting point for messaging prospective

LinkedIn connections or people who have recently accepted

your invitation to join your network. They can be customized to fit

each individual situation.

Invitation to Connect with a Prospect

The purpose of the invitation is to get

the person to connect with you or, at a

minimum, cause a marketing event (profile

view) with your target audience.

Rather than sending the standard

(default) LinkedIn invitation, personalize

your invitation. There are numerous

places from which you can send the invitation,

but the safest one is from the

person’s profile rather than a list or other

place where the Connect button is attached

to the person’s name and photo.

Be succinct and to the point because you

only have 300 characters,

including spaces. Also, you cannot attach

documents or share a link to a web

page in your invitation.

Start your invitation with a greeting

like “Hello” and then the person’s name.

Here are three examples

of good invitations:

Jim Smith, a client for over 15 years,

suggested that we connect. He thought

you might be interested in having a chat

about how we could help your organization.

If that’s the case, let me know. In the

meantime, I would be honored to have

you join my network.

Jim Smith, a member

of my LinkedIn network,

suggested that we connect.

He thought you might be

interested in having a chat

about how we could help

your organization. If that’s

the case, let me know. In the

meantime, I would be honored to have

you join my network.

I noticed from your profile that you

attended Georgia [or are a member of a

group, used to work at a particular company,

etc.]. Based on your job responsibilities,

I thought you might be interested

in having a chat about voluntary benefits

for your employees. If that’s the case, let

me know. In the meantime, I would be

honored to have you join my network.

Follow-up thank-you note

to a prospect after s/he accepts

your invitation to connect

This is the message you should send—

either through LinkedIn or traditional

email—shortly after a person accepts

your invitation to connect. Since it’s a

message to a connection, you can attach

documents and include hyperlinks to web

pages, and there is no character limit.

The purpose of the invitation

is to get the person to connect

with you or, at a minimum, cause

a marketing event (profile view)

with your target audience.

Once again, start your invitation with

a greeting like “Hello” and then the person’s

name.

Thanks for connecting on LinkedIn.

As I mentioned in my connection request,

I look forward to chatting with

you. I could call you this Thursday at

2:00 or 3:30pm or I will be near your office

on Monday and would love to stop in

and meet you in person [or any other option

you’d like to propose]. Does either

option work for you?

In preparation for our meeting, I have

attached to this message [something of

interest to your prospects, e.g., testimonial,

case studies, checklist, articles] or

included a link to [similar information]

that will help you understand how we

help companies like yours. I look forward

to talking with you soon.

24 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com


DEAL, CAGLE

VISIT FORT GORDON, CYBERSECURITY TRAINING FACILITY

Gov. Nathan Deal, along with Lt. Gov.

Casey Cagle, visited the Cyber Center

of Excellence, a training facility

for cyberspace operations at Fort Gordon,

and attended a mission briefing. The briefing

was designed to provide state leaders

with a greater understanding of the various

cyber entities housed at Fort Gordon,

how they work together and the tactical

missions. During the visit, Deal and Cagle

recognized military officials for their current

work and reaffirmed the state’s commitment

to the Georgia Cyber Training and

Innovation Center.

“The decision to establish the Georgia

Cyber Training and Innovation Center in

Augusta further solidifies Georgia’s reputation

as the Silicon Valley of the South,” said

Deal. “The Department of Defense recognizes

Georgia’s assets and the vital role our

state will play in the future of cybersecurity.

I would like to extend my thanks to Major

General John Morrison, Col. Eric Toler and

their respective staffs for their efforts and

dedication to this critical initiative. This

invaluable resource will put Georgia at the

pinnacle of efforts to enhance American

cybersecurity for both public and private

industries with a resource unlike any other

in the country. Georgia is already the No. 1

place in which to do business. Now, we’ll be

the safest place for business as well.”

The center will be a state-owned facility

designed to promote modernization in cybersecurity

technology for both private and

public industries. In conjunction with the

Department of Defense and the National

Security Agency (NSA), this resource will

serve to enhance American cybersecurity

in the public and private arenas. This initiative

will be housed within the Georgia

Technology Authority and will, in part,

serve as an incubator for startup companies.

It will also focus on research and development,

tapping into the assets of Georgia’s

research institutions and partnering

with Augusta University Cyber Institute.

This collaboration will also include the

Georgia National Guard, Technical College

System of Georgia, University System of

Georgia, the Department of Economic Development,

Georgia Bureau of Investigation

and numerous private sector entities.

“I support Governor Deal and his commitment

to further establish Georgia as a

leader in cyber innovation and security,”

said Cagle. “We have a tremendous opportunity

as a state to leverage our resources

with our research institutions and military

bases, and this collaborative initiative will

result in a better trained and equipped cyber

force.”

Less than two months ago, U.S. Army

Cyber Command and the Second Army

broke ground on construction for a new

Army Cyber headquarters facility that will

draw together the Army’s cyber operations,

capability development, training and education

in one location. The event marked

the start of an approximately 2.5-year project

to build a state-of-the-art focal point

for Army cyberspace operations at Fort

Gordon. A second phase of construction to

support Cyber Protection Team operations

is expected to be completed in early 2019.

“Fort Gordon has a diverse mission set

and has become a focal point for cyberspace

operations. With a population of over

25,000 military and civilian personnel, it

is the home of cyberspace expertise from

across the Army, Joint, and Department of

Defense cyber communities,” said MG John

Morrison, Commanding General of U.S.

Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort

Gordon. “The collocation at Fort Gordon

of operational forces from the National Security

Agency Georgia, Army Cyber Command,

and Intelligence and Security Command

with the Cyber Center of Excellence

training force has initiated a convergence

of operational insights and lessons learned

that will transform cyberspace training and

operations. The synergy gained from their

proximity to each other will also enable the

educational and operational forces to better

poise the Army for the unpredictability of

cyberspace operations. Fort Gordon welcomes

the state’s investments in cyberspace

technologies, including the creation of a

state cyber innovation and training facility

in Augusta. Those investments strengthen

the partnerships between the Department

of Defense, Georgia, academia, and industry

as we work together to attract, produce,

and retain the caliber of workforce necessary

to help our Nation to maintain its advantage

in the cyberspace domain.”

“NSA-Georgia was honored to welcome

Gov. Deal, Lt. Gov. Cagle and party for their

first visit to Fort Gordon and NSA/CSS

Georgia,” said NSA-Georgia Commander

Col. Eric Toler. “As one of our Nation’s

top priorities, cyber security will take the

combined effort of government, academia,

and the private sector to effectively protect

our nation against hostile cyber-attacks. As

such, NSA-Georgia looks forward to the

future collaboration and partnership with

Fort Gordon, Augusta University, and the

State of Georgia, and private industry to

ensure that the United States and our allies

maintain a decisive information advantage

over our adversaries.”

“The governor’s vision for a facility that

will allow the best and the brightest in academia,

industry and government to work

together to address global cyber security

challenges is truly transformational,” said

Augusta University President Dr. Brooks

Keel. “Augusta is already home to national

cybersecurity assets, including U.S. Army

Cyber Command, the Army Cyber Center

of Excellence and NSA/CSS Georgia. I look

forward to working with Gov. Deal and all

of our partners as we turn this world-class

training facility into a vibrant reality.”

VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 25


Successful Marketing

By Larry Alton

Successful marketing is difficult in

just about every trade, but the challenges

are compounded in the legal

industry where firms, individuals, and

companies are required to tread carefully

as they adapt to changes both in the

workplace and the marketplace. However,

for those who are able to understand the

intricacies of legal marketing, the opportunities

for growth are numerous.

The Origins of Legal Marketing

The concept of marketing and advertising

is pretty straightforward in the vast

majority of industries. The legal industry

is not one of them, though. When it

comes to legal marketing, there are many

complexities and challenges facing the industry.

When you study the legal industry, it’s

important to remember that marketing

26 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com

and advertising have only been legal for

a few decades. Until the 1970s, it was

essentially prohibited for law firms to engage

in any sort of promotion. However,

that all changed in 1976 when two men

– John Bates and Van O’Steen – decided

to do something about it. The decisions

they made altered the legal landscape forever

and permanently shifted the focus of

marketing departments around the country.

That year, Bates and O’Steen were really

struggling to maintain a profitable law

practice. Their law firm was designed to

serve low-income individuals, but they

simply couldn’t attract the volume of clients

needed to turn a profit and stay in

business. So, they decided that their only

two options were to either, watch their

practice fail or violate the laws of ethics

and advertise their services and fees.

Bates and O’Steen placed an ad in a

Phoenix newspaper and it worked. They

attracted tons of clients and business

picked up.

“This was the first time anyone in the

legal industry was brave enough to challenge

the precedent that had been in place

for decades,” explains Joseph Genovesi of

Thrivest, a company that works closely

with attorneys and their clients to provide

legal funding. “Many of the lawyers we

work with now depend heavily on their

ability to advertise, so this was a bold and

important decision on their part.”

But Bates and O’Steen also attracted some

unwanted attention. The President of the

State Bar of Arizona filed a complaint and

a hearing panel recommended a six-month

suspension for the two lawyers.

The case was a big deal in the legal

community and made it all the way to the


Supreme Court, where it was overturned

on the grounds that truthful advertisement

was protected under the First and

Fourth Amendments.

“The case stands for the idea that commercial

information is something that

offers vitally important information to

consumers just as other types of speech,

and the speech is important because it

leads to economic decisions that govern

our lives,” Bill Canby, the lawyer for Bates

v. State Bar of Arizona, according to the

First Amendment Center.

But others feel as if the Supreme Court

reached the wrong decision. “My skin

crawls and stomach screams when I see

the ads for lawyers who promise to fight

like tigers and at very low cost,” John

Frank said in an interview with the First

Amendment Center. “I believe that advertising

has become so sufficiently promiscuous

that it is a profound change in

the practice of law.”

Three Challenges Facing the Industry

Clearly, there are mixed opinions on

legal marketing and advertising. And

though we’re 40 years past the Supreme

Court decision, the industry still faces

some pretty stout – albeit different – challenges.

Let’s take a look at some of the

issues law firms have and why many are

struggling to gain exposure in ethical,

natural, and high-returning ways.

1. Lack of Client Education

Consumer education is important in

every industry, but there are few areas

where it matters more than in the legal

world. In almost every case, the client

has something at stake – money, freedom,

reputation, responsibility, etc. – and

a failure to properly understand what’s

happening can lead to catastrophic consequences.

From the law firm side of things, it’s

crucially important that firms are able

to develop educational content as part

of their overall marketing and advertising

strategies. It’s the only way to develop

healthy and stable relationships with clients.

Unfortunately, many aren’t investing

in client education. This is either because

they don’t know how, or because they

don’t recognize the need.

Thankfully, there’s a lot of flexibility in

today’s marketplace. With social media,

blogging, and the pervasiveness of content

marketing, it’s possible to publish educational

materials in the form of eBooks,

white papers, articles, and videos – and

then push this content to highly targeted

audiences. For an example, look no further

than O’Steen’s current law practice

to see what this looks like.

2. Attorney Pushback Against Content

Attorneys – like almost everyone else

– are creatures of habit. For the past few

decades, law firm success has depended

on networking. So, when marketing and

advertising finally became options, it was

difficult for many to switch gears. Nearly

half a century later, many lawyers still

struggle with the concept.

“Many attorneys believe their networking

efforts are the only tactics that

successfully bring in new business,” says

Matt Naffah, a marketer who works closely

with lawyers. “While networking is an

invaluable tool for bringing in new business,

I don’t believe it’s the only tool at

your disposal.”

Naffah is a strong proponent of using

legal content marketing to generate clients.

However, he also recognizes that

getting attorneys to buy-in is one of the

biggest challenges the industry currently

faces.

His solution is to encourage firms to try

content marketing for a substantial period

of time and use predetermined KPIs

(Key Performance Indicators) to judge

the results. In most cases, the KPIs will

show that legal content marketing yields

a positive return.

As we move forward, look for more legal

firms to hire content writers and copywriters

in order to gain the upper hand in

this aspect of digital marketing. It’s a dynamic

shift in the legal workplace and will

shape how clients perceive the firms they

choose to work with.

3. Out With the Phone

Books, In With SEO

Today’s client is much different than

he was 10, 20, or 30 years ago. Instead of

picking up a phone book and shuffling

through to find an attorney, people are

utilizing the resources they have in front

of them to make educated decisions. In

most cases, this means a search engine

like Google.

But even more than searching for

something like, “Personal Injury Lawyer

+ NYC,” people are searching for lawyers

and then navigating through their websites

to gain a clearer picture before making

contact.

“What we’re finding is that our traffic is

increasing in terms of people finding us

through organic search said,” Jim Matsoukas,

CMO of a large law firm, when

asked about the biggest legal marketing

challenge he’s facing in 2016. “We have to

be more sophisticated and more strategic

about the language we use on the site and

the language that we use in our ads and in

our alerts, articles, and publications and

how that matches up with people looking

for legal services. I think that’s important.”

In other words, while Bates and O’Steen

were simply trying to gain visibility in

1976, today’s legal marketers and advertisers

must be more strategic. It’s about

gaining visibility and then cashing in on

this platform by using the right language,

resources, and content.

It’s not uncommon in law practices

around the country to now have weekly

meetings with SEO experts and digital

marketing teams. This is a pretty clear

shift in how lawyers view the Internet as a

source of reliable traffic generation.

Leverage Legal Marketing

the Right Way

In most industries, marketing is

straightforward. Choose your mediums,

tell the truth, and see what happens. In

the legal industry, things are a bit more

complicated. There’s much more at stake

when clients choose law firms.

In order to successfully and consistently

get new clients onboard in 2016, it’s imperative

that you invest in quality content

that allows you to overcome the challenges

and roadblocks that have emerged.

Furthermore, it’s important that you

educate clients in honest ways that prove

your firm is equipped to take on their

challenges. Bates and O’Steen paved the

way – it’s your turn to carry the torch.

Larry Alton is a full-time freelance writer and

business consultant. With over 7 years of experience

providing strategic consulting to companies ranging

from Fortune 500 firms to small, locally-owned

shops, He has directly observed the way America’s

workforce is changing across differing industries

and businesses.

VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 27


10 MOST COMMON LEGAL MISTAKES HR MAKES

The human resources department has a host of responsibilities.

Juggling them is often overwhelming, to say the least. One

small misstep could cost the company hundreds, thousands

and even millions of dollars. Knowing in which areas of HR’s numerous

responsibilities the most common pitfalls lurk goes a long way to

ensuring that you don’t fall into these traps.

#1: Advertisements, Interviews, and Offer Letters

✔ Mistake: improper language in job advertisements. Too many

employers still use inappropriate terms — such as “girl,” “boy,” or

“young” — in their job advertisements. This is particularly true

when managers, rather than HR, write the ads.

Mistake: unlawful interview inquiries. Too many hiring managers

ask about personal and/or protected characteristics during job interviews,

which sets the employer up for a discrimination lawsuit if the

applicant is not hired.

✔ Mistake: inaccurate description of the job. Some hiring managers

work so hard to get top-notch recruits in the door that they fail to

be realistic with their description of the job. The unhappy employee

will leave, and it will have been a shameful waste of the employer’s

time and money.

✔ Mistake: inadvertent creation of contractual promises. Too

many employers include language in their job offer letters that inadvertently

creates an employment contract. For instance, mentioning

a yearly salary implies a yearly contract.

#2: Wage and Hour Issues

✔ Mistake: misclassification of workers. Exempt vs. non-exempt

status: Finding and correcting these mistakes are an Obama

administration priority. While there are many factors to consider,

you’re basically basing your determination on the employee’s level

of responsibility and/or training, and a salary test.

✔ Mistake: mandating confidentiality of wage information.

Prohibiting employees from discussing their wages is a violation of

the National Labor Relations Act.

#3: Privacy Assumptions and Violations

✔ Mistake: permitting an expectation of electronic privacy. Too

many employers fail to advise employees to expect no privacy on

their computers. If you asked employees, “Do you think the stuff

you put into that computer is private?” you might get some interesting

answers.

✔ Mistake: improper electronic monitoring. Some states have

statutes that require employers to give employees notice if they are

being monitored electronically.

✔ Mistake: inadvertently revealing private employee information.

HR possesses a great deal of sensitive information about individual

employees. It is your duty to keep that information confidential.

#4: Training and Performance

✔ Mistake: failure to train supervisors. When supervisors are

not trained, they’re the ones who get you into trouble. They may

say rude, racist, or sexist things, or be unintentionally discriminatory,

and because they are in a supervisory position, the entire

company is on the hook.

✔ Mistake: misleading performance evaluations. If you try to

discipline an employee for a performance/behavior problem that

was never noted on their evaluation, your hands may be tied.

#5: Rough Beginnings and Sharp Endings

✔ Mistake: sloppy start. Among HR’s common errors in this

area are: failing to submit the state notice of a new hire; failing to

tell the employee the key terms and conditions of employment; and

providing the employee with a misleading description of working

conditions.

✔ Mistake: sloppy finish. Regardless of whether a termination is

voluntary or involuntary, always allow the employee to leave with

dignity.

#6: Investigations

✔ Mistake: failure to oversee supervisory investigations. As an

HR professional, you know that timeliness and thoroughness are

important in an investigation. But what about when a supervisor is

the one investigating, not HR? It’s still HR’s responsibility to provide

oversight.

#7: Record-Keeping/I-9 Issues

✔ Mistake: failure to document past practices. Courts love to

know not only whether the treatment of an employee was against

the law or company policy, but whether it was in line with past

practices.

✔ Mistake: failure to comply with Form I-9 requirements. Failure

to complete the I-9 form properly and failure to keep the form

in a separate file are common mistakes employers make.

#8: Breakdowns In Communication

✔ Mistake: failure to keep employees in the loop. Forgetting to

notify employees about policy/procedure changes, outcomes of

investigations/discipline issues, or unsatisfactory behavior or work

quality can be a costly slip-up.

#9: Accommodations

✔ Mistake: failure to explore accommodations. “Accommodation”

can be defined as “a determination in favor of the employee.”

Employers should explore accommodation options when an employee:

has a disability, is pregnant, is called to active military duty

or has a family member called to active military duty, or wants to

engage in a religious observance/practice.

#10: Non-Compete Agreements

✔ Mistake: unreasonable scope. Obviously, an agreement

prohibiting an employee from working at any position in the same

general industry forever and ever isn’t going to hold water.

✔ Mistake: lack of consideration. Legally, contracts are valid only

if both sides give something. If the employee gives up their right

to compete, the employer must also give something. Too often,

the employer gives nothing, making the non-compete agreement

invalid in a court of law.

28 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com


Movers & Shakers

AWARDS ➤ ANNOUNCEMENTS ➤ PRESS RELEASES PROMOTIONS EVENTS ➤ ACTIVITIES ➤ HONORS ➤ RECOGNITIONS

➤ Mayor Kasim Reed Ground Breaking at Doctor’s Memorial

Park in Southwest Atlanta

➤ David A. Garfinkel Joins National Association

of Parental Alienation Specialists

David A. Garfinkel, of counsel attorney with

Levine Smith Snider & Wilson, LLC, has become

a member of the National Association of Parental

Alienation Specialists (NAOPAS). A family law attorney

for more than 30 years, he is the only Atlan-

David A. Garfinkel

ta attorney who is a member of the organization.

“The role of parental alienation in divorce and post-divorce,

is real. Unfortunately, there are few attorneys who have in-depth

experience with the issue,” said Garfinkel. “As a family law attorney,

I have handled many cases involving parental alienation

over the years. I am proud to be a member of NAOPAS, an organization

dedicated to shaping the future of high-conflict divorce

and creating more compassionate solutions for children

and families.”

NAOPAS was founded by several forensic psychologists who

specialize in parental alienation. The goal of the organization is

to be a resource for parents in high-conflict divorce cases, assisting

them in finding experienced attorneys and mental health

professionals who are trained in parental alienation and understand

how to litigate such cases effectively. NAOPAS members,

which include attorneys, judges and mental health professionals,

have access to top thought leaders, the latest research and continuing

education on the issue.

➤ Rachel A. Snider Achieves

Board Certification in Family Trial Law

The park will feature an open lawn, a playground area, and

a rain garden, Doctor’s Memorial Park will also include a water-wall

memorial which honors physicians from the former

Southwest Hospital, one of the few hospitals in the nation controlled

or operated by African-Americans.

➤ Matthew J. Johnson, formerly

of Drew Eckl & Farnham, LLP, in

Atlanta, Georgia, and Lee M. Paris,

a recent Honors Graduate from

Emory University School of Law,

have become associates with Davis,

Matthew J. Johnson Lee M. Paris

Matthews & Quigley, P.C., Atlanta,

Georgia. Mr. Johnson and Mr. Paris will practice in the Domestic

Relations and Family Law Section of the Firm.

Levine Smith Snider & Wilson, LLC proudly announces

that Rachel A. Snider, a partner in the

firm, has successfully achieved board certification

as a family law trial advocate by the National

Rachel A. Snider

Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA). Rachel joins a

growing number of trial attorneys who have demonstrated their

commitment to bettering the legal profession by successfully

completing a rigorous application process that provides consumers

of legal services with an objective measure by which to

choose qualified and experienced legal counsel.

To achieve board certification by NBTA, attorneys must

demonstrate substantial trial experience, submit judicial and

peer references to attest to their competency, attend continuing

legal education courses, submit legal writing documents, provide

proof of good standing and pass an examination. NBTA

was formed out of a strong conviction that both the legal profession

and its clients would benefit from an organization designed

specifically to create an objective set of standards illustrating an

attorney’s experience and expertise in the practice of trial law.

Board certification is the highest, most stringent and most reliable

honor an attorney can achieve.

Submit free content for

next issue, Movers & Shakers

• New Hires

• Promotions

• Honors and Awards

• Board Appointments

• Association Elections

• New Office Location

• Mergers & Acquisitions

• Speaking Engagements.

Contact: Bill McGill

404-229-0780

mcgill@AtlantaAttorneyMagazine.com

www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com

VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 29


30 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com


MAGAZINE

ATTORNEYS TO WATCH IN 2017

ATLANTA

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please tell us why your nominee should be one of the chosen attorney for the front cover.

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VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 31


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