Category: Legal Branding

Legal Branding

Law Firm Marketing Through Social Media

Law firms have been slow to embrace social media. But, social media (like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter) have become increasingly important marketing tools.

Globally, billions of people use social media every day. Social media is not just for cat videos and pictures of cute babies. Increasingly, we rely on social media provides for news and information.

Today, a law firm must have a social media presence to survive.

Law Firm Branding and Social Media

Law Firm Branding and Social Media

Social media feeds are a wonderful way to express your law firm’s brands. Social media allows lawyers instant access to their clients and followers. It gives clients a steady feed of information that educates and entertains.

Your law firm’s posts should reflect your brand. A brand is the public face of your law firm. It describes your cultural identity and law firm mission. Avoid posting information that does not align with your firm’s core values.

What should a law firm share on social media?

What should a law firm share on social media?

Your social media feeds should not just be targeted at prospective clients. Many of your followers are current or past clients. Posts should speak to people at every phase of the buyer’s journey.

The legal buyer’s journey describes how people develop from potential clients to brand advocates. The journey is described as follows:

  • A person searches for basic information about a problem.
  • He identifies his problem, and considers his possible solutions.
  • He wants an attorney, and begins to lawyer shop.
  • Now a client, he wants ongoing service and value.

(See our article about marketing fundamentals for more about the buyer’s journey.)

People find different information helpful at different phases of their journey. Your posts may include:

  • Basic information that would educate the general population about your practice.
  • Legal updates that impact your clients.
  • Feel-good stories.
  • Reminders about community events that impact your clients.

Try to keep your posts informative and entertaining. If you want to create a longer discussion of an issue, share a link to your blog.

But, social media needs to be treated with caution. Along with its benefits, social media can pose branding and ethical challenges.

Personal vs. Professional Accounts

Lawyers should keep their personal and professional social media accounts separate. Most lawyers do not want their clients seeing their vacation pictures. At best, you are over-sharing with your clients. At worst, your personal images and posts can damage your professional brand.

Keep your personal social media accounts private. It’s pointless to keep a professional account if your personal account is open to the public.

Legal Ethics and Social Media

Lawyers must follow their State Bar’s ethical rules. Often, there are specific rules on advertising and client solicitation. These rules apply to social media. Here are some best practices:

Don’t Publish Confidential Information

Don’t Publish Confidential Information

Lawyers and law firms should not publish client information without the client’s signed consent. It’s tempting to post war stories on social media. Client success stories are compelling.

But, if you give too much detail, you may violate your clients’ right to confidentiality. Tread carefully, and when in doubt, ask for permission.

Don’t Accidentally Create an Attorney-Client Relationship

A lawyer publishes a blog post. In the comment section, a person asks questions about a claim. The lawyer responds with legal advice.

The lawyer may have accidentally created an attorney-client relationship.

Once there is an attorney-client relationship, you must protect the client’s privacy and avoid conflicts of interest. You should avoid giving legal advice online. You should also put disclaimers in your comments.

Requesting a Connection Can Be Solicitation

A construction law specialist meets a developer at a social event. The next morning, she sends the developer a LinkedIn request. Has she improperly solicited a client?

Lawyers should be careful when making social media connections. The individual could already be represented, or your friend request could be considered a solicitation.

Use Disclaimers to Protect Yourself

Don’t forget that social media is really a marketing tool for your law firm. Make disclaimers that your posts are general, and should not be considered legal advice.

If you need help with your social media strategies, speak with a marketing consultant.

Legal Branding

Graphic Design and Law Firm Branding

Logos, color and fonts are some of the easiest ways law firms express their brand. But, design elements are not your law firm’s brand. Instead, logos and images help your clients understand your firm’s identity and outlook.

Good design helps define a brand!

Logos

logos

Logos can be powerful expressions of brand identity. Mouse ears and or golden arches make us think of their representative brands immediately. Law firm logos are usually less iconic.

Law firm logos tend to be conservative. They use traditional typefaces and are often monochromatic. They also rely heavily on gavel, scales of justice and Greek columns.

Law firm logos seem to offer very little brand differentiation. Your firm can do better.

Here are a few pieces of advice:

1. Work with a Graphic Designer

Work with a Graphic Designer

Most lawyers don’t have the skills or time to make a logo. Your firm may have an idea of what your logo should be, but may not have the technical ability to bring it to life.

A graphic designer can create a high-quality, custom logo with your brand in mind.

2. Do Market Research

When you do market research, don’t just look at law firm logos. Instead, study other markets. Create a file of logos that speak to your firm.

Then, consider WHY these logos are successful? What message do they convey? Are they modern or traditional?

You also need other people’s opinions. If you are a partner at a 25-member firm, do NOT include them all in the design process. Instead, ask a small group to give input into the logo design. If you cannot agree on a logo, get help from your graphic designer or a marketing consultant.

3. Choose a Simple Logo

Most iconic logos are simple and elegant. They usually have one to three colors. This makes them easy to recognize.

Color

color

Color consistency increases brand recognition by 80%, according to a 2007 University of Loyola, Maryland study. But, color also evokes emotion and can help define your brand.

The Psychology of Color

We associate colors with both positive and negative feelings. Think about your law firm’s brand and culture. What emotions do you want to express in your branding? Ferocity? Trust? Optimism?

Now, select colors that evoke these feelings. Most Americans link these colors to the following feelings:

  • Red: Power, aggression, passion and strength
  • Blue: Security, dignity and trust
  • Green: Wealthy, fresh and youthful
  • Yellow: Positive, energetic and warm
  • Gold: Historic, traditional and valuable
  • Grey: Conservative, responsible and serious
  • Pink: Feminine, playful and youthful
  • Purple: Sophisticated, creative and royal
  • White: Truthful and pure
  • Black: Serious, elegant, and bold
  • Orange: Cheerful, optimistic and exuberant

You also want to select colors that are complementary and easy to read.

Again, a graphic designer or marketing consultant can help you select a color palette.

Images

Sometimes, law firm images and photography seem like an afterthought. Too often, law firm websites rely on cliché stock photography and poor quality profile photos. But, images are an important part of your firm’s branding strategy.

The images on your website (and other marketing materials) should align with your law firm brand and client base. Before you select a stock photo, ask these questions:

  • What does the image say about my clients?
  • Does the image reflect our culture and values?
  • Is the image consistent with the rest of our marketing materials?
  • Are my competitors using the image?

You should choose images that are unique and directly relate to your brand identity.

Just like color, images can express emotion. Consider the message you are trying to convey with an image. And, consider how that emotion relates to your brand.

Similarly, attorney profile pictures should be high quality and consistent. A poorly lit, low-resolution image will not positively advance your brand identity. It is worth the time and money to hire a professional photographer.

The Need for Consistency

Law firms should use graphic design elements consistently throughout their marketing. Your social media feeds, print materials and website should share common design elements.

Along with logos and color, consistent use of font, images and taglines help define a brand. Your law firm should provide clients with a consistent message and visual aesthetic. This consistency will help your clients understand your firm culture and identity.

Legal Branding

Law Firm Branding vs. Lawyer Branding

Within a law firm, there may be many brands. You have the firm brand that represents the entire organization. There are also lawyer or personal brands. It can be a challenge to balance these brands.

Legal Branding

Legal Branding

A brand does not describe WHAT you do. Instead, a brand highlights WHY and HOW you serve your clients. Legal branding differentiates lawyers and law firms from each other by highlighting differences in culture and outlook.

What is a Law Firm Brand?

What is a Law Firm Brand?

A law firm’s brand covers the entire organization. It is the public image and identity of the firm. This brand reflects the values and culture of the law firm.

A law firm brand is expressed through graphic design, including colors, logos and formatting. A firm’s branded content also has a consistent voice and message.

What is a Personal Brand?

What is a Personal Brand?

Many lawyers have their own personal brand. A personal brand is built on the lawyer’s (rather than the law firm’s) personality and reputation.

This brand can be based on a variety of factors, including:

  • Community and political involvement
  • A dedicated personal client base
  • Involvement in high-profile litigation
  • Leadership roles in professional organizations.

Personal brands are valuable to both the lawyer and the law firm.

Unfortunately, personal brands are portable and can cause conflict. If a lawyer leaves a firm, his brand goes with him. Or, a lawyer’s brand may diverge from the firm’s message and identity.

How to Use Law Firm and Personal Brands

Sometimes clients hire the lawyer, not the law firm. (And, vice versa.) Your marketing strategy should accommodate both law firm and personal brands.

A lawyer’s brand can seem bigger than the law firm’s brand. This can happen when the personal brand covers:

  • An iconic founding partner
  • A recognized rainmaker
  • A public figure, such as a politician or philanthropist.

Your lawyers are not the same and they bring different strengths to your firm. You can highlight these by allowing internal differentiation. Allow for flexibility within the firm’s brand.

Personal Brands and Legal Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are subsets of your client base. They have different goals, perspectives and needs. (For more information, see our article on buyer personas.) Your law firm can appeal to different buyer personas through personal brands.

Consider these two buyer personas:

  • John (age 30) was in a car accident. He was a software engineer at a large company, but he is now off on medical leave. John is married with two kids. He suffers from depression. The thought of litigation is overwhelming.
  • Marta (age 45) lost her husband in a car accident. Another driver was at fault. She is a trauma nurse and is taking time off to grieve. Marta is angry. She expects a large settlement for her pain and suffering.

While a good lawyer could represent both clients, John and Marta may be drawn to different personal brands. John may choose an attorney who seems patient and compassionate. Marta may want the brashest rainmaker she can find.

Using Blogs and Social Media to Build Personal Brands

Using Blogs and Social Media to Build Personal Brands

Lawyers can build their personal brands through blogs and social media. Blog posts and social media can give clients insight into a lawyer’s personality and legal perspective. A regularly updated blog or feed also can build trust with potential clients.

But, a lawyer’s blog or social media feed must still follow the firm brand. A lawyer’s content should not conflict the firm’s brand and must stay professional. You should also use consistent design elements (color, photographs and logos).

Your law firm may want to create social media guidelines or a digital code of conduct. Remind your lawyers that social media posts and blogs must meet your state bar’s ethical standards. (For more information, see our article on law firms and social media.)

How to Fix Conflicting Brands

When you have big personalities (and therefore big brands), conflict is bound to happen. A lawyer may use his own photographs and colors scheme, or refuse to use a firm logo.

As a lawyer, you are trained in dispute resolution. Use those skills! Many times, compromises can be made. But, if you cannot agree, it may be time to hire a branding consultant.

It is possible that the law firm (or the personal brand) is overly defined and rigid. A branding professional can help you re-brand the lawyer or firm, allowing both brands to flourish.

Legal Branding

The Fundamentals of Legal Marketing

Unfortunately, they don’t teach marketing concepts at law school. Lawyers enter the workforce knowing how to write a brief, argue a case and negotiate a settlement. But, few lawyers understand the fundamentals of marketing.

At Altitude Branding, we want to change this.

The Legal Buyer’s Journey

The Legal Buyer’s Journey

Marketers often compare the sales process to a journey. A buyer’s journey includes three stages:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision.

This process can also be compared to a funnel. At the top, you have many potential buyers. As the funnel narrows, the population drops (until you are only left with clients).

While lawyers sell services, rather than material goods, the analogy still applies.

Awareness

Clients start the buying process when they notice a problem. At the Awareness stage, the buyer is looking for information, not a solution or service.

In the legal field, the Awareness stage begins when someone notices a problem or opportunity. Some examples could include:

  • John has a sore back and searches for information about back pain.
  • Marta wants to become more active in philanthropy and looks online for options.

At this stage, the buyers are not specifically looking for legal help. They are just searching for general information.

If you try to sell legal services to someone at the Awareness stage, you may appear too pushy. Instead, a law firm can engage a buyer at this stage by offering neutral information.

For example:

  • John may be interested in a webpage discussing the causes of back pain.
  • Marta may appreciate a blog post about a successful philanthropist or top-rated charities.

Consideration

A prospective client enters the Consideration phase when they have defined their need and are looking for a solution. Our legal buyers now know they have a problem, but may not realize they need a lawyer.

In our examples:

  • John now believes his back pain is work-related.
  • Marta decides she wants to donate her estate to several charities.

Our buyers are ready to become leads or prospective clients.

At the Consideration stage, law firms should educate leads about their services and solutions. This is often the stage when a prospective client contacts a law firm.

Our prospective clients may appreciate:

  • An E-book about workers’ compensation claims.
  • A webinar about charitable trusts.

Appointments with people in the Consideration stage should focus on education, rather than selling services. Our prospective clients aren’t ready to hire a lawyer, but they are getting close!

Decision

Our prospective clients now realize that they need to hire a law firm. At the Decision stage, they will evaluate their options. They are going to “lawyer shop.”

When prospective clients shop for a lawyer, law firm branding becomes very important. Your marketing message should help a prospective client understand your firm’s culture and identity as much as your practice areas.

People hire law firms based a combination of technical expertise and emotional appeal. This will help differentiate your firm from the competition.

Retention

Technically, retention is not part of the buyer’s journey. But, client retention is vital to law firms. You want to keep your clients!

Marketing at the Retention phase should remind your clients of your value. Give legal updates, share success stories and ask for performance reviews.

Engaging Clients Throughout the Legal Buyer’s Journey

Engaging Clients Throughout the Legal Buyer’s Journey

Clients may contact you at any stage of the buyer’s journey. Successful legal marketing has content appropriate for each stage of the journey.

You can create email campaigns, blogs, e-books and other content that appeal to a wide variety of buyers.

Your content should be targeted directly at your prospective clients. Legal marketers and branding experts often use buyer personas to understand client behaviors. Buyer personas are composites of a law firm’s client base. (For more information, read our article on buyer personas and legal marketing.)

The Importance of Legal Branding

The Importance of Legal Branding

Successful legal marketing builds trust and rapport. Clients choose a law firm for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons are tangible:

  • Geographic location
  • Practice areas
  • Cost of legal services.

Other factors are less tangible:

  • The law firm’s reputation
  • A sense of competence or trustworthiness
  • Likeability.

Law firm branding helps clients understand your intangible value.

Your firm’s brand is more than the services you provide. Your brand is your identity, your motivation to practice law and your connection to the community. A law firm brand highlights the emotional aspects of your firm and differentiates you from your competitors.

A law firm mission statement may help in defining your brand. (For more information, see our article about mission statements.)

Successful marketing attracts clients and retains them. If you need help with developing a marketing or branding strategy, you should contact a legal marketing professional.

Legal Branding

The Importance of Law Firm Branding and Mission Statements

Branding is essential to a successful legal marketing campaign. Your brand explains your law firm’s value and attracts your ideal clients.

A law firm’s brand is its public identity and personality. A brand is not the services you offer. Instead, it describes how and why you provide these services.

When you are defining your law firm’s brand, a mission statement can be helpful.

How to Draft a Mission Statement

How to Draft a Mission Statement

Think critically about what makes your law firm special. While your brand can include your practice areas, it must focus on the value your firm adds.

As a firm, brainstorm over the following questions:

  • Why do you practice law?
  • Why did you choose your area of expertise (criminal law, personal injury, etc.)?
  • Why are you better than your competitors?
  • Why do your clients love you?

Focus on what makes you exceptional. Don’t be afraid to dig deep and don’t be too humble. The more specific your responses, the more detailed a mission statement you will create.

Once you understand your mission or brand, turn it into a narrative. Infuse your content and design choices with your message. Explain why your practice and your clients matter deeply to your firm.

Why Create a Mission Statement?

A Mission Statement Helps Set You Apart From Other Law Firms

Why Create a Mission Statement?

On the surface, law firms can be difficult to differentiate. But, a mission statement can help set your law firm apart from the competition. Your firm’s history, motivations and culture are unique. A mission statement should explain your culture and outlook to clients.

Generally, clients don’t care how big or old your law firm is. While they are interested in your practice areas and location, these characteristics rarely differentiate you from your competition. Culture sets you apart. Clients want a firm that matches their personality and goals.

For example, imagine two different business-related firms. One has a strong brand identity while the other does not. The non-branded firm’s phonebook ad announces:

“Our Community’s LLC Team. Founded in 1980. Free Consultation.”

A potential client sees that this firm helps with business creation, but not much else.

The branded firm’s website states:

“Our community thrives when small, local businesses are successful. We are a small business and experience the same challenges. We guide, educate and collaborate with our clients through every stage of a business’ life. Let’s build something together.”

The branded firm also boasts a business law blog and a client portal. Together, this firm gives prospective clients a better understanding of how it treats its clients and practices law.

A Mission Statement Educates Your Clients

When clients choose a law firm, there is an emotional component to their decision. Clients often choose lawyers because their early conversations built trust and rapport. A strong brand and marketing strategy can build trust even before the client contacts you.

An accurate mission statement is also the foundation for your clients’ expectations. Honest communication and accurate expectations are the key to strong attorney-client relationships. Don’t tell your clients you are compassionate and patient unless you really are. If you’re not disposed to long appointments with a lot of handholding, own it.

Mission Statements Can Guide Design Choices

As a law firm, you also don’t want a website or marketing campaign that looks like everyone else’s. Logos, images, and color choice all have emotional impact. Your visual elements should be as consistent with your mission or brand as your written content.

For example, people often connect colors with feelings. Red is associated with power while blue is often linked to peace or calmness. Together, Americans associate them with patriotism. What colors represent your law firm best? (For more information, see our article on visual branding.)

When you are developing print or digital materials, consider how your imagery reflects your brand or mission.

Mission Statements Can Guide Design Choices

If you a struggling to brand your law firm, try creating a mission statement that expresses your firm’s individuality and value added. Marketing professionals can also help refine and build law firm brands.

Legal Branding

How Client Reviews Help Law Firm Branding

Do you go to a movie or restaurant without checking its reviews? Thanks to social media, our purchases are often influenced by reviews and ratings. Today, reviews are an important part of legal marketing.

Hiring a lawyer is a big decision. Many potential clients rely on word-of-mouth and reviews to help with their decision. A happy client is a law firm’s best advertising.

Your law firm may be familiar with review-based websites like Martindale and Avvo. But, you can use client reviews in a more active way. Your clients’ opinions and experiences can be a powerful way to extend brand identity.

Reviews on Third-Party Sites

Reviews on Third-Party Sites

Sometimes, clients will voluntarily post a review. These reviews often appear on third-party sites like Facebook or Yelp. These reviews can be sporadic and unreliable.

Everyone loves a positive review! But, your client’s positive review may lack detail and marketing value. Which of these reviews do you prefer?

  • “My lawyer was great!”
  • “My lawyer kept fighting, even when things got tough. She always listened to me. I was surprised how quickly the other side settled! I have already sent friends to my law firm for help. Thank you.”

Both clients were happy with their lawyers. Clearly, the second review gives more information to potential clients. You can’t edit a client’s online review. But, you can encourage happy clients to post detailed online reviews.

If you receive negative reviews, write a prompt and empathetic response. Encourage the unhappy client to meet with you, and work to resolve the issue. While you cannot make everyone happy, prospective clients will notice your quick and courteous response.

How to Create a Client Questionnaire

How to Create a Client Questionnaire

You should also create your own client questionnaire. At the end of a case, send each client this questionnaire. Information from a client questionnaire can be used both internally and for marketing purposes.

A client questionnaire is simple to make, and should ask open-ended questions. Potential questions include:

  • What did our law firm do best?
  • How would you describe your relationship with your lawyer?
  • How would you improve our law firm’s services?
  • Would you hire our law firm again? Why?
  • Would you refer friends and family to us?
  • Would you like a free subscription to our email newsletter?
  • Can we publish your review on our website?

If you want to publish reviews, you must get the client’s permission.

Client Reviews Can Show Strengths and Weaknesses

When you use a client questionnaire, you should analyze the responses, and look for trends.

Internally, these client reviews can be used to highlight a law firm’s strengths and weaknesses. If a staff member is providing exceptional service, it should be recognized and rewarded. Similarly, if clients regularly complain of communication delays (or other problems), you should improve your processes.

Your clients’ experience should always be consistent with your marketing message.

Client Reviews and Website Marketing

Client Reviews and Website Marketing

Again, a well-branded law firm’s reviews will reflect its mission or identity. You can use these reviews to extend your brand.

Prospective clients value reviews. If the reviews are consistent with the law firm’s message, they build trust. So, publish client reviews that express elements of your brand or mission.

For example: A personal injury firm prides itself in both its compassion and fierce representation. These characteristics are the pillars of its marketing message.

On its client review page, the firm has published these comments:

  • “I always knew I could call my lawyer for help. The firm helped me through my darkest hour—and negotiated a great settlement!”
  • “The insurance company couldn’t push my lawyer around. I was in good hands. He never stopped fighting for me.”

These client reviews match the law firm’s message—and are particularly persuasive because they come from clients.

A well-designed law firm website should include published client reviews. Give your prospective clients insight into your firm culture and mission through client reviews.

Legal Branding

Use Buyer Personas to Get Better Legal Clients

Lawyers know their clients, right?

Lawyers think about their clients every day. You understand their daily challenges. You guide them through complicated legal processes. You celebrate their successes and victories. But, do you ever see your clients as buyer personas?

In today’s competitive legal market, lawyers and law firms need to think strategically about client marketing. Buyer personas can bring your law firm the best possible clients.

What is a buyer persona?

Marketers build “buyer personas” when developing a marketing or branding strategy. A buyer persona describes part of your client base and helps you create targeted marketing messages.

Each of your law firm’s buyer personas has different goals and perspectives. A message that convinces a father of a disabled child to hire you for an SSI appeal may differ from than that of a business professional facing a drunk driving charge. Your marketing plan for these two personas should be different.

Your client base contains multiple buyer personas. You need to understand who they are. Once you identify your firm’s personas, you can create branded messages that speak to them.

How to Identify Law Firm Buyer Personas

How to Identify Law Firm Buyer Personas

Since you work closely with your clients, it should not be difficult to identify your firm’s buyer personas. It does, however, take some time.

First, go through your law firm files, and build demographic profiles. Use the data you already have to spot trends.

  • Do you clients tend to be men or women?
  • What are the average ages?
  • What are their average incomes and educational backgrounds?
  • Why did your clients hire you, and not your competition?

Your intake interviews probably contain a lot of this information.

You should also consider who you want your clients to be. Do you want higher income clients? Do you want to expand a practice area? Or, do you want to extend your law firm’s geographic reach? You will create profiles for these desired clients too.

Finally, you need to do market research. If your intake interviews are lacking information, ask your clients for more information. You can send a client survey, or perform a follow-up interview.

You will also want to evaluate your competitors. Examine their marketing materials. Do other law firms target different buyer personas?

What Does a Buyer Persona Look Like?

What Does a Buyer Persona Look Like

Next, build profiles that summarize your client demographics. Your buyer personas may resemble these:

  • Name: J.Q. Public
  • Average Age: 45
  • Job: Skilled laborer/electrician, union steward
  • Goals: Resolve workers’ compensation dispute and protect financial stability.
  • Fears: Losing home and other assets, not getting back to work, tension at home.
  • Attitudes: Not tech savvy, but okay with email. Prefers face-to-face meetings. Experienced with union negotiations and basic employment law.
  • Name: Marta Smith
  • Average Age: 60
  • Job: College Professor
  • Goals: Needs help with estate planning.
  • Fears: End-of-life expenses.
  • Attitudes: Travels often for research. Prefers email and video conferencing. Likes long-form explanations.

Again, your law firm should always have more than one buyer persona.

How to Use Buyer Personas in Law Firm Branding

Now that you have buyer personas, both for your current and desired client base, apply them to your marketing strategy. Think about how you have successfully marketed to a buyer persona in the past. Build a strategy that speaks specifically to each persona.

A marketing strategy for J.Q. Public may include:

  • Both digital and printed workers’ compensation brochures.
  • Discussion of your ties to labor unions.
  • A targeted email campaign about workers’ rights.
  • Offers to run free workers’ compensation and FMLA training sessions at union steward meetings.
  • In-house family law and bankruptcy referrals.

In comparison, Marta Smith’s marketing may involve:

  • A detailed estate planning blog.
  • An electronic client portal, allowing easy access to documents and information.
  • E-books and downloadable forms.

Modern marketing focuses on building a buyer’s trust and confidence. By using buyer personas, law firms can convey expertise, and help build that trust.

Do You Need Marketing Help?

Do You Need Marketing Help?

Lawyers’ time is valuable. Many law firms do not have the time or resources to handle their own branding and marketing. If you need help, contact an experienced professional.

Legal Branding

Why the Hearsay Rule is so Important

Most people who are involved in a criminal case as either a suspect or a defendant are unfamiliar with the term “hearsay.” The reason this legal concept is so important is because it can easily become an impediment to your defense. If you make the mistake of assuming some kinds of evidence are admissible, only to find out that evidence is not admissible, you might find yourself in a much more difficult legal position.

It is vitally important that you understand hearsay, because it will teach you the value of exercising your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent during questioning.

What is Hearsay?

Generally speaking, testimony in a court of law must be offered by the witness himself or herself, even if the charges are simple assault charges. In very limited circumstances, one person may be allowed to testify as to what someone else said, but courts enforce the hearsay rule in order to prevent an out-of-court statement from being admitted as evidence.

A given witness, therefore, generally may not offer testimony about an out-of-court statement, especially if the person who made the statement is available to testify on their own behalf.

Exceptions

In some cases, hearsay is admissible. For example, the author of a commercial publication need not appear to offer testimony covering what they published. Neither does a medical doctor need to appear to testify as to their own written medical diagnosis. Sometimes a statement against penal interest can be admitted. Such a statement can be presumed credible on the grounds the person making the statement is at greater risk of prosecution as a result.

Why is Hearsay Important?

Suppose you are being questioned by police. You know you are innocent of any crime. Nevertheless, the police say they have evidence that may implicate you. So you listen to the evidence and immediately seize on a fatal weakness in their case. You explain your innocence in detail, believing you have proven you are not guilty of any crime.

At trial , you persuade your attorney to call the police officer to the stand. You proved you were innocent right in front of them! So, your defense attorney calls the police officer to the stand and asks the following question.

“Officer, would you please tell the jury what my client told you on the afternoon of March 10th?”

At that point, the prosecutor will rise and say “objection, hearsay.” The judge will then sustain the objection, and the police officer will be prohibited from answering your attorney’s question. Why? Because your attorney is asking the officer to testify about an out-of-court statement made by you. Further, your defense attorney is attempting to admit your own testimony at trial without giving the prosecutor an opportunity to cross-examine you.

If you want the evidence you presented to the police admitted, you have to take the stand yourself. This is also the reason you never answer if questioned by the police. No matter what you say, it cannot ever help you.

The law isn’t as complicated as it sometimes seems. It does require some study and some time, but even some of the trickiest concepts can be understood and can therefore work in your favor.

Legal Branding

Distracted driving accidents in and around Milwaukee

After being injured in a car accident that was caused by a distracted driver, you’re confused and hurt, and you should contact a personal injury lawyer in milwaukee . You’re physically unable to work, and the medical bills continue to accrue. At the Groth Law Firm, our Milwaukee car accident lawyers provide effective and compassionate representation of men, women and children who have been injured in car accidents in and around Milwaukee.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, distracted driving consists of any number of activities that take a driver’s attention off of the roadway. Those can consist of:

  • Using a mobile or navigational device
  • Changing radio stations or CDs
  • Looking for something inside of the car
  • Eating
  • Grooming

When we’re driving a car, we’re required to use three cognitive activities. Those are:

  • Manual using your hands and feet
  • Visual by keeping your eyes on the road
  • Cognitive in keeping your mind on what you’re doing

Texting while driving
Keeping those cognitive activities in mind, it’s then clear that texting while driving is the most dangerous distraction. It requires a driver to take his or her hands off of the wheel and their eyes off of the road while concentrating on something a world away from driving. As per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, if you take your eyes off of the road for five seconds to read or send a text message at 55 mph, you’re traveling the length of a football field. Anything can happen in front of you in those five seconds. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation reports that there were 24,089 distracted driving accidents in Wisconsin in 2015. Those accounted for 20 percent of all motor vehicle accidents statewide. That translates into a distracted driving crash occurring every 22 minutes in Wisconsin.

Your rights
Pursuant to Wisconsin law, if you’ve been injured in an auto accident as a result of the carelessness and negligence of a distracted driver, you may have the right to obtain compensation for damages. Those may include:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Past and future lost earnings
  • Any permanent disfigurement
  • Any permanent disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of a normal life

Preserving your rights
Sometime after the accident the opposing insurer might contact you and ask for a statement about how the crash occurred. Never give any type of a statement to an opposing insurer. Your under no legal obligation to give a statement, and it’s likely that the insurer will only try to use it against you in the future. Call us first. If we’re retained, you’ll never hear from that insurance company again.

If you were injured in a distracted driving accident, or if a family member perished in one anywhere in Wisconsin, contact the Groth Law Firm in Milwaukee at 877-375-7001. Consultations and case evaluations are free, and if you’re injuries don’t permit you to travel to us, we’ll come visit you. Don’t worry about having to pay a cash retainer. That’s because we don’t get paid until we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.

Legal Branding

Three Facts About Disability and How They Affect You Personally

Being disabled without money coming into the home can be a nightmare. Those who are recently unable to work may find themselves with more questions than answers. If you are wondering about filing for Social Security benefits, you may have a great deal of angst regarding the process. Most things about the process are common knowledge; however, there are some things that are not talked about as much. You may not be aware of things that can affect you personally.

1. Everyone Has A Five Month Waiting Period

The waiting period is something that many do not consider when filing for disability benefits. First, you must be disabled for at least 12 months or expect to be off work for the next 12 months to qualify. After you have been approved, no benefits will be paid for the first five months. You actually won’t get anything until the sixth month.

The Social Security Administration goes back to the date of your disability. For instance, if you were disabled on February 1, 2017, you will not get a check until August of 2017. There is no way around this waiting period, and it is difficult for those who are suddenly disabled. Most people are owed back pay when they receive their benefits, and they do not feel the pain of losing those five months. However, if you get approved right away, you may be waiting a few months to get any money.

2. If Your Need Is Great, Then Your Case May Be Fast Tracked!

The Social Security Administration has identified the need for some people to receive benefits right away. If the applicant has a certain illness, their application may be picked to be “fast tracked.” Social Security can speed up the process when they feel a Quick Disability Determinations or a Compassionate Allowance is needed. About 60,000 applicants each year will be fast tracked. This means that the benefits can be approved in as little as three months.

The Administration just added 52 new illnesses to the list in 2011. So, they are aware of the suffering caused from those who wait for benefits for years. However, the waiting period still applies in most cases. Talk to an attorney from the Summit Disability Law Group to see if your condition is on the “fast track” list.

3. You Can Collect Both Disability and SSI Payments

Many people do not know that you can collect both SSDI and SSI. SSI is a need-based program that is used to supplement income when SSDI payments are low. All the figures are based on an average on your wage history. If you make less than a certain amount a month, then they will also give you an SSI check to help supplement your income.

While it is not a huge check, it is enough to help you cover your bills. Some people who collect both SSDI and SSI also qualify for food stamps and a medical card to help pay for incidentals. Everyone who gets SSDI gets Medicare, but they are required to pay a spin down and get supplemental insurance. Those who collect SSI on top of it will receive Medicaid and not have to pay anything.

Legal Counsel Can Help

Filing for disability can be a difficult time. It is best to have an attorney representing you during this process. Whether you are approved right away or need to go to a hearing, you will need the extra support from a legal representative. There are timelines, waiting periods, and plenty of questions that clients are concerned with. Do not try to maneuver the disability program alone, get professional help from someone that knows the ins and outs of filing for Social Security Disability.