Boy was I pissed.
There is nothing like coming home from a vacation out west, only to receive a notice in the mail that I had been accused of speeding in Scottsdale, Arizona. There was a picture of me and my rental car, with family in tow, returning from a leisurely hike on Tom’s Thumb Trail. Little did I know (perhaps Waze might have told me—next time) that this mostly deserted highway had multiple photo radar cameras snapping pictures and doling out hefty fines.
Well, I was not likely to fly back out to Arizona to appear in court, and I was not too keen on paying the fine or figuring out if I could complete defensive driving school by the court date. I did not call the 800-number or go online for more info from the friendly folks at the Scottsdale Police Department. What I did was go onto Google to research the validity of such tickets—which brought me to R&R. This did not seem like a fair fight—and not too hospitable to the many families, seniors and other tourists to this beautiful part of the country.
I read many articles about the criticisms and controversies surrounding this multi-million-dollar profit generator. Often, this included quotes from attorneys at a local law firm that were outraged by the endeavor. I proceeded to the firm’s website. I learned that these attorneys were—like me—active ABA members. I then sent an e-mail from the website, with lots of questions about the validity of this automated traffic enforcement infraction.
So when I sat down to work as issue editor on this niche practices-themed issue of Law Practice Today, I thought that the perfect example of great niche practice development was the one I had experienced first-hand with R&R. From a marketing standpoint, they had everything lined up just right. Their attorneys and firm name popped on Google search results from this “educated consumer” seeking answers. The website reinforced the message that these folks knew this very refined niche. Involvement with the same organization that I was heavily invested in (again, the ABA) provided an additional “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval. But, perhaps most importantly, they responded quickly to my “cold call” e-mail inquiry with very useful information and guidance. All Marketing 101 for solid practice development.
As a colleague, they offered to monitor my ticket at no charge—professional courtesy. Again, rather than bill me a nominal amount for a service, they chose to hope that the next time I needed (or need to refer a matter) in Arizona, I would think of them. And based on my experiences, without doubt, that’s smart business development. When the legal issues became more complicated — Scottsdale sent a process server to my home in New Jersey (which increased my “cost of service” by another $100)—R&R said that they would represent me at the Scottsdale City Court. I was impressed with their advice, strategy and legal acumen. They clearly knew the niche, and I obtained the best possible result.
From a niche practice marketing standpoint, you could check off all the boxes—solid media relations; good online visibility; responsive client service; involvement with related professional organizations; lawyer-to-lawyer referral strategies. And in the end, as most attorneys will often attest, great results are the best marketing. So if you ever find yourself with a questionable ticket or a criminal matter in Arizona, call them. I’ll drive a little more conservatively next time I visit, and stop in to buy the R&R lawyers’ lunch. And if R&R ever needs help with a matter in the Northeast one day, I’ll look to return the favor—and at the very least, they’ll know that I’m a lawyer who will fight back, too.
About the Author
Micah Buchdahl is an attorney who works with law firms on marketing and business development, and is a past chair of the ABA Law Practice Division. Micah is a past editor-in-chief of Law Practice Today and a current member of the Board of Editors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 856-234-4334, and on Twitter at @mbuchdahl.