ATLANTA | VOLUME 6 ISSUE 1
LAW FIRM OF THE MONTH
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ATLANTA | VOLUME 6 ISSUE 1
& Arbitration Services
ADR FIRM OF THE MONTH
ATLANTA | VOLUME 6 ISSUE 1
Michael R. Braun
ATTORNEY OF THE MONTH
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Bonnie M. Youn
Sr. Legal Recruiter
The RMN Agency
The 2016 Daily Report Best Legal Recruiting Firm
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Ste. 100 • Atlanta • GA 30318
www.thermnagency.com • 678-426-3180
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Table of Contents
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
Law Firm of the Month
By Yona Pesman
12 Law Office of Michael R.
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
By Magazine Staff
18 8 Stupid Social Media
Tricks to Boost SEO
“Social Channels are the
New Google.” Social Media
By Magazine Staff
Atlanta Attorney(s) at Law Magazine is
published by: Bill McGill
Bonnie M. Youn
20 SEO Audit Checklist
21 Authority Leadership
Marketing. The Key to
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
25 Deal, Cagle Visit Fort
26 Successful Marketing
By Larry Alton
28 10 Most Common Legal
Mistakes HR Makes
28 Movers & Shakers
Bill Adler Photography
Jeremy Adamo Photography
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Letter From the Publisher
BUILDING A PORTFOLIO OF
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.
Atlanta | (404) 229-0780 | firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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
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
Website : milesmediation.com
John K. Miles, Jr., 2000
Hon. Susan B. Forsling
David C. Nutter, Esq.
Joseph M. Murphey, Esq.
Gregory J. Parent, Esq.
Daniel C. Cohen, Esq.
Wayne Wilson, Esq.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
• 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
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
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
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
• 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,
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 email@example.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
10 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com
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
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
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
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
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
AT A GLANCE
Law Office of Michael R. Braun. PC
3225 Shallowford Rd., Ste. 500,
Marietta, Georgia 30062
Phone – (770) 421-6888
Michael R. Braun, 1997
Sponsor Pope High School Athletics;
a variety of local charities
AV rated; Georgia Super Lawyer
VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 13
The Last White Fulton County Chief Jailer
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
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.
1. NPR Transcript 9-15-2016 The racial cleansing.
16 | www.atlantaattorneymagazine.com
to Maximize Your
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
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
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
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
25 Consider sending a quick “thank
you” note to those who connect.
99%+ don’t do this, so it will help you
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
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
• By keeping your business
• 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
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
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
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
• 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
COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS KEYWORD RESEARCH
Perform a site search
Perform brand searches
Review the total pages
Duplicate content review
(www vs. non-www, etc.)
Site load time
Home page layout
Landing interior pages
Industry competitors (primary market)
List 3 - 5 leaders of industry and
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
Enter website and competitors’
sites/pages to Google Keyword tool
Pull keywords currently driving
traffic from analytics
Survey customers (past/present)
Difficulty (organic, paid)
Value per conversion
Estimate cost of traffic
Hunam or goal-focused
Ease or read/use
Top pages Link building potential
Quality Types of content
Frequency Calls to action
Total number of inbound
Total number of linking
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.
Complete and relevant
Number of links on the
Review of internal link
structure (including anchor text)
Semantic HTML review
Level of engagement
Relationship with influencers
Personal brands within the
Understand why your competitors are
out-performing you online. Get a grasp of
what you should be doing to catch up.
Discover where you should start for nextstep
site improvements. Unleash the
potential fo a higher ranking in the SERPs.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
• 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
• 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,
• 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!
1. May 15, 2016: 4 Ideas For Advancing
Diversity And Inclusion In The
Legal Profession, http://abovethelaw.
VOL. 6 ISSUE 1 ATLANTA ATTORNEY MAGAZINE | 23
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
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
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
“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
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
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
“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
“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
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
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
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
“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
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
✔ 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
✔ Mistake: sloppy finish. Regardless of whether a termination is
voluntary or involuntary, always allow the employee to leave with
✔ 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
#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
✔ 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.
✔ 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
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.
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next issue, Movers & Shakers
• New Hires
• Honors and Awards
• Board Appointments
• Association Elections
• New Office Location
• Mergers & Acquisitions
• Speaking Engagements.
Contact: Bill McGill
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ATTORNEYS TO WATCH IN 2017
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