“Exclusive Legal Marketing” Loses Suit For Bidding on Attorney Names in AdWords

Another legal marketing firm found itself in hot ethical water today… “Exclusive Legal Marketing,” headed by Coety Bryant utilized Google AdWords to purchase names of personal injury attorneys to drive prospects to his site www.personalinjurycare.net. Aggressive – and many attorneys bristle at this – especially ads coming from a non-law firms – but not necessarily unethical. Note, there are numerous directories and vendors already capitalizing on lawyer name search via SEO – Yelp, Lawyers.com, and Avvo (I spent a good 3 years of my life studying name search there). Even Google’s Google My Business service is essentially nothing more than name search – especially for practitioner listings.

But herein lies the rub. The two attorneys filing suit, Schiff and Kurgis specifically noted that it was the fact that the marketing company wouldn’t tell the prospective client that they weren’t the lawyer in question. From Biz Journals:

“Schiff or Kurgis alleged that in many cases, those people thought they were speaking with Schiff and Kurgis associates.”

According to Avvo, there aren’t any lawyers named Coety Bryant. I’ll also note that Bryant’s website specifically calls out the opportunity to speak to an attorney.

As do his ads…

I dug a bit deeper and found some of his ads archived. Here’s an example of his ad biding against another personal injury lawyer’s name: Jim Adler in Houston.

Now it seems Bryant was banking some serious money with this approach – bidding on lawyer names, not disclosing who he actually was, and then reselling these leads to other lawyers. A little research shows his budgets exceeding $75K per month back in May of 2017.

My Take on Competitive Name Bidding:

Let me be upfront – Mockingbird raises the competitive name bidding opportunity for all of our clients. It’s aggressive yes, but NOT unethical (nor against Google’s guidelines, as long as the name isn’t in the ad…i.e. Coke can bid on “Pepsi” but can’t pretend the click goes through to a Pepsi site.) Not all of our attorneys are comfortable with this approach. But…if you are fully transparent about who a prospect is speaking with, competitive name bidding is an effective, albeit aggressive tactic. Additionally, you should bid on your own name (as Adler does above) as a cost-effective defensive posture.

HT: Gerry O’Ginsky

One Response to ““Exclusive Legal Marketing” Loses Suit For Bidding on Attorney Names in AdWords”

  1. Another great article Conrad! This was my response to another lawyer in a Facebook Group that didn’t like the idea of advertising for a competitor’s name…….. I understand the idea of it being distasteful but at the end of the day if you provide the best representation for a client what is wrong with advertising for it? Back in the day, many lawyers were against advertising in the phone book because it was distasteful, the same thing for the Internet in general. The majority of lawyers who had that opinion wish they embraced the types of advertising back then. I personally have no problem advertising on another’s name if I know I can provide as good or better service AND I am not deceiving the person with my ad. That means I make it clear, I’m not the firm they searched for but I provide services that they might find helpful. Is it better to let the Morgan and Morgan’s of the world dominate the advertising space and let others fade away? PS I’m not against Morgan and Morgan and have no comment on their abilities, I’m just using them as an example of someone who has the most advertising dollars….. I’m not arguing, just pointing out another view;-)