The explosion in the popularity of social media has caused a change in the way businesses market themselves.
It seems every company has a Facebook page, a Twitter account or even a YouTube channel.
The legal profession is no different.
One effective and cost-efficient strategy that increasingly is being employed by attorneys to attract new clients is the use of online videos.
Jill Addison, a San Diego-based online video producer, said it's the next best thing to meeting someone in person.
"Attorneys are service providers, and the thing they need is to sell is themselves because people are buying them," she said. "The very best way to sell themselves is in person. Videos are the way to leverage a personal presence online."
She recalled an experience where she met a prospective attorney after first seeing a video of them online.
"It felt like it was our second meeting, that the video was our first meeting," Addison said. "I felt we had already made a personal connection."
Logan Quirk, a young attorney who just moved to San Diego in June to open his own law firm — Quirk Law Group — is hoping online videos will jump-start his new personal injury practice.
"I think it increases your visibility and helps your Web presence," he said. "If people see you have a video on your site, it helps you maintain a captive audience more than just words and pictures."
Quirk recently shot a series of Web videos, addressing a series of frequently asked questions, that will debut after the first of the year.
Addison, who produced the videos, plans to have Quirk post a new video every two weeks throughout the year, constantly giving his website new content, which increases its search engine optimization.
Addison used a similar technique for her business, which helped her reach the first page in a Google search.
"When you title each video with a question a person might have in mind, the chance your video pops up first is very high," she said. "Websites have competition. There are thousands competing for (a spot on) Google page one, whereas there are only a handful of videos."
The videos also can build an attorney's credibility in an increasingly digital world, according to Quirk.
"With people becoming more technologically inclined, I think (videos) will help attract a younger generation, who can now access you on their smartphones," he said. "It's going to show you're up to par with today's technology because I think the legal industry lags behind (in that area)."
Videos aren't just for the current generation.
Marilyn Shea, an estate planning attorney from Oceanside with more than 25 years of experience, told Addison that her YouTube video has helped her attract more business.
Lawyers have taken several approaches to the content of their video. Some choose to use them as an introductory video, explaining their practice, while others provide some tips, thereby solidifying their expertise on a subject.
"I find there's a shift in the way people approach (video marketing)," Addison said. "It used to be: give just a little away for free. Now it's like give away 90 percent to prove you're an expert. Even if you do that, clients will still buy your product. There's so much to know (about the law) that you can't tell everything."
Lawyers also can post video testimonials on their website, simply using their smartphone to record the compliments of a satisfied client. The video can be uploaded to YouTube and embedded in a blog post.
Filming a PowerPoint presentation is another strategy employed by lawyers looking to increase their Internet traffic.
"People are finding new ways to make videos all the time," Addison said.
Quirk, who spent four years at his brother's practice in Ventura, Calif., is hoping videos will help him build a client base quickly.
"I'm knowledgeable in the area of law," he said. "The hard part is getting your foot in the door. It's always nerve-wracking opening your own business. (It's a) highly competitive area with personal injury attorneys. We're doing what we can."