Emile Banks has come a long way. Arrested while growing up in Chicago for trying to scare neighborhood bullies with his mother's handgun, he spent a night in jail at 12 years old. "I had to sleep with a bunch of criminals," Banks told us in the 2006 issue of Wisconsin Super Lawyers Magazine. "I knew one thing: I was never going to end up in that place again."
He never did. Instead, Banks ended up as the founder of Emile Banks & Associates in Milwaukee, where he's built a notable personal injury defense practice. He's also known for his sermons at Christian Faith Fellowship Church, where he's an associate pastor. Occasionally, his passions intersect.
His two careers have some commonalities. "It's all about persuasion," Banks says. "When you're on the pulpit and ministering the word of God, you're telling people it's true and applicable to their lives. When I'm in court, I'm persuading the jury that it's my story, and a story they should accept."
A pivotal case for Banks involved a single mother who attended his church. Accused by a large corporation of not filing the appropriate paperwork and owing money to them, she did not qualify for legal aid. So Banks chose to represent her pro bono and won.
"She was tearful, crying, and said she did not know what she would have done [without our help]," says Banks. "Lawyers are expensive, and many of us want to do pro bono work, but the pressures of making profits for the corporation get in the way."
It was this desire to take on more pro bono work that led Banks to start his own firm.
"It actually ended up being the greatest decision in my career," he says. It allows him to take on many clients for free or at reduced rates.
"Emile could have taken the easy way," says Fehring. "He could be an in-house attorney for a large corporation, to flesh out their diversity. Instead, he decided to start his own firm."
Banks prays before the start of each trial. "I never want to walk out of a courtroom feeling ... that I have prevented someone from obtaining something they had rightfully coming," Banks says. "I never argue a position I don't truly believe in. I have been in a position [where] clients have asked me to say things to help their case. If it's not a fact, I will not say it, no matter what the client says or threatens to do."
Client relationships used to be confined to in-person conversations and word-of-mouth referrals. A legal consumer showed up at your door with an issue, you solved it and then they told their friends and family about you. Rinse and repeat.
Today's legal consumer uses a variety of avenues to their disposal. According to the latest Thomson Reuters Legal Needs Survey, 1/3 of those surveyed learned about an attorney online. That means caring about your clients is about much more than face-to-face interactions.
Now, if you were selected to the Super Lawyers and Rising Stars list, you already have support for why you're an accomplished attorney and lawyer potential clients can trust. But you can't stop there. Here's one way you can make sure clients know you care and build real trust in a virtual world.
The prevalence of ratings and reviews sites shows the impact of new age word-of-mouth. While legal consumers still trust the recommendations of their friends and family, the importance of strangers' views on an attorney's ability has increased.
According to the Legal Needs Survey, 68 percent of those surveyed said the importance of reviews from former clients were important or very important. In addition, 19 percent thought recommendations from others was the most important factor when choosing an attorney.
The way you treat your clients is crucial to getting more cases and improving your standing offline, but it's also critical to your online reputation. So, pay attention to the online chatter about your firm and don't be afraid to ask for reviews from your clients.
Here's one way to do it:
Make sure not to tell clients what to say about you in their review and don't offer any kind of compensation or service for the recommendation. That's either illegal, or at the very least dishonest. Also, verify with your bar association that you can ask for reviews in your area.
Looking to better build trust with your clients? Download the playbook.
It's important for you as an attorney to target your advertising to reach the right clients at the right time. One of the easiest ways to get in front of your audience as a selectee is with a Super Lawyers Premium Online Attorney Profile.
The increased exposure can help you bring in more cases and here is how one listee did it.
For Claudia Lagos, a four-time Super Lawyers Rising Stars selectee at Scully & Lagos who specializes in criminal defense and represents clients in Boston and throughout Massachusetts, it's about reaching quality clients that fit a niche criminal defense practice.
That's why she recently invested in a Premium Online Attorney Profile on SuperLawyers.com and targeted directory ads to raise brand awareness around specific criminal defense issues that her desired clients face.
"Super Lawyers has a really good reputation and clients care about you being on the list," Lagos said. "Clients see it as meaning I've already been vetted. They can trust that I'm a good attorney."
And it works. She's gained greater visibility among those searching for a female criminal defense attorney in the Boston area. Lagos has experienced 71 clicks-to-call or email on her directory advertisements and a 67 percent increase in views of her Super Lawyers profile in the last year. In addition, the firm overall received 120 contacts and 67 law firm profile visits during the same time frame.
Lagos isn't the only one reaping the benefits of the SuperLawyers.com directory. Each month, 600,000 searches are conducted on the directory and profiles are viewed 800,000 times.
Capitalizing on the SuperLawyers.com directory is the fastest way to leverage your accolades and reach potential clients. And with Super Lawyers running a Cyber Week sale, now is the time for Super Lawyers and Rising Stars selectees to upgrade their online presence. Learn more and invest in your directory presence today.