Strategic Targeting: Find Your Ideal Client

Look for this feature in the current edition of Trial Briefs, exclusively for NCAJ members.

By Tea Hoffmann

In my coaching practice, I ask lawyers on the initial call to describe their ideal client. Most say “ones who can pay” with a chuckle. While having paying clients is important, finding the right paying clients is even more important. But how do you find the right clients for your practice? Strategic targeting is a method that has proven benefits when it comes to attracting the right clients.

Strategic targeting is a marketing method wherein you identify clients you would like to provide your services to, and those clients are also in need of someone with your experience and expertise to do work for them. These clients can fit into a certain demographic or market segment or fit into a certain business segment you find fascinating. For example, if you enjoy an eminent domain practice, you should be targeting clients who need help with a condemnation or eminent domain issue. Your website should contain resources designed for this type of client including frequently asked questions and past examples of your victories and representative matters. Video testimonials as well as written testimonials are also powerful. Credentialing yourself as a “Best Lawyer” in your specific field or “Super Lawyer” is also a great way to set yourself apart from your competition. In other words, you must get into the head of your ideal client and consider how they buy and why.

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We’ve Set NCAJ Up For Long-Term Success

By Kim Crouch

Shortly before Christmas with the holiday season in full swing, the North Carolina Advocates for Justice received a gift that members will value for years to come. On Dec. 16, 2019, the NCAJ’s Board of Governors approved a comprehensive, five-year strategic plan that sets this organization on a path toward a modern, sustainable future.

We announced the news about the plan in December, and I am already working with members and staff to put it into action. But I want to take a moment as we begin the new year to reflect on this pivotal moment for our organization. I am humbled and honored to be leading NCAJ at this time and I am confident that we will look back on the adoption of the strategic plan with a true sense of pride. We have set NCAJ up for long-term success that will allow us to continue to protect the people, fight the powerful, prevent injustice and promote fairness.

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Rising Star: Matt Gambale

Look for this feature in the upcoming edition of Trial Briefs, exclusively for NCAJ members.  

By Amber Nimocks 

Hanging around outside an RV on a sunny autumn afternoon, Matt Gambale and his law partners look dressed for a day off – plaid shirts and jeans, Sperry Topsider loafers, no socks. But it’s not casual Friday, it’s pro bono Tuesday. The partners of Osborn Gambale Beckley & Budd PLLC are offering free legal answers for anyone who approaches their mobile office, which today is the RV bearing the firm parked in a busy midtown Raleigh parking lot. 

The mobile office and the regular pro bono days, which they do about eight times a month, are part of the new firm’s business plan.  

“We rely on karma to make this work for the for-profit side of the business,” Gambale said. “We take care of the community and hopefully they will take care of us.”  

 

 

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Welcoming 2020 | NCAJ Five Year Strategic Plan Approved

On Dec. 16, your NCAJ Board of Governors approved a comprehensive strategic plan to guide the organization over the next five years.

I am grateful to the leadership for setting a course that will modernize and sustain this organization for the future. I want to thank the members of the Strategic Planning Committee for their commitment and dedication to the development of this plan and for their continued oversight of the plan in 2020. I also want to thank Mary Moss and Kim Glenn from moss + ross for their professional guidance and assistance in developing NCAJ’s strategic plan.

In early 2020, I will work with the NCAJ staff to begin addressing and implementing the plan’s action steps. With this strategic plan, NCAJ will be focused on mission, beliefs and goals that will allow this organization to continue protecting people, preventing injustice and promoting fairness.

Learn more about the NCAJ strategic plan for 2020-2025 and its highlights.

Thank you for your continued support of NCAJ.

Sincerely,

Kimberly Crouch
Executive Director

Rising Star: Ben Hiltzheimer  

Ben HiltzheimerFind this feature and more member news and profiles in the October edition of Trial Briefs, available exclusively to NCAJ members.

Ben Hiltzheimer is the founder of Hiltzheimer Law Office, PLLC, with offices in Raleigh and Durham. From 2006 to 2011, Ben was employed as an attorney at the federally funded Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. His tenure there included two years in a targeted litigation role focusing on complex forensics and systemic criminal justice issues in partnership with the Innocence Project.

In his capacity as a trial attorney at the Public Defender Service, he represented indigent individuals charged with felonies in the District of Columbia, from their initial appearance in Superior Court through trial. Ben earned his law degree from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He is a member of the 10th Judicial District Bar Association and the National College for DUI Defense. He lives with his wife and three children in Durham.

What attracted you to criminal defense work? 

I’ve thought about this question over the years and I have at least three different answers.

On one hand, I started out specifically as a public defender because I wanted to stand in the shoes of the marginalized and push back against the substantial power of a government that often oversteps its bounds, particularly with respect to minorities and the poor. It was that disparity that first attracted me to this fight, from a core belief that one’s rights shouldn’t be a function of race or socio-economic status.

As I got into the work and it became less abstract, another guiding principle that evolved for me was the more general belief that people shouldn’t be judged solely on the darkest moments in their lives – which is often where I meet my clients for the first time. The system tends to view individuals through the narrow lens of a single act, and part of my job as a defender is to put those acts into the context of an entire human life, with hardships and struggles and often a complicated and tragic story to tell.

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Our Time to Take Back the Courtroom

by Vernon Sumwalt, 2019-2020 President of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice

Trial lawyers are losing the ability to try cases. 

Yes, you heard me right.  The president of the NCAJ, formerly called the NCATL (remember what the “TL” stood for?) just said that. 

Now, I’m not the first to say this.  U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Anderson’s Where Have You Gone, Spot Mozingo? A Trial Judge’s Lament Over the Demise of the Civil Jury Trial, 4 Fed. Cts. Law Rev. 99 (2010), expressed concern about the decline of civil jury trials almost a decade ago.  North Carolina’s own federal bench has said the same about federal criminal trials.  See Conrad, Robert J. & Clements, Katy L., The Vanishing Criminal Jury Trial: From Trial Judges to Sentencing Judges, 86 George Wash. L. Rev. 99 (2018).  Why are trials running the way of the dinosaurs?  Fewer jury trials means fewer juries.  Fewer juries means fewer guards left standing on the last line of our Constitutional system of defense, where our Founders put 12 representatives of our communities—the only unelected ones under our Constitution—to protect the shores of justice from the erosion of popularity, power, and indifference.  There are a ton of excuses for this decline: arbitration (and ADR in general), sentencing guidelines, increasing costs of litigation and extensive discovery, inexperience of new lawyers, risk aversion of old lawyers, risks of conviction, dispositive resolutions, the list goes on.  Abraham Lincoln, who is said to have tried over 3,000 cases in 25 years as a trial lawyer—about 120 trials a year—didn’t have these obstacles.  Neither did most trial lawyers just 30 or 40 years ago.                   

We, as trial lawyers, cannot excuse this trend to end trials, or else we will lose our Constitution.  What’ happened?  What can we do to fight back?  This is the task of trial lawyer groups — NCAJ included —t oday.  To revitalize trial, rebound from this loss, and rebuild our last line of defense for Constitutional integrity. This is our destiny. Who trial lawyers are meant to be.      

So, if the hair on your neck stands up or your heart starts to race when I say, “Trial lawyers are losing the ability to try cases,” then good.  Very good.  It’s time to fight back.  We need the fire in your belly to throw NCAJ into hyperdrive to train new trial lawyers.  We need you now.

Things are moving at light speed at NCAJ.  While gradual, our CLE offerings launch into the realm of practical trial skills on Thursday, September 26, 2019, when William Goldfarb conducts a seminar with two live focus groups in Charlotte.  We have a depositions course planned in January 2020 to tackle North Carolina-specific practices and black letter law.  Meanwhile, we welcome Mark Kosieradzki to our Sustainer Summit at the Grove Park Inn in October.  Koz is a national expert on 30(b)(6) depositions and countering abusive discovery tactics.  NCAJ is test driving its first applications for its new focus group program before we open the doors for everyone’s consumption.  Our listservs and moot court participants continue to debrief their experiences and share takeaways, so others can experience the ride as close to a “real life” driver’s seat as they can be.  We are building better trial lawyers to try cases like they have nothing to lose, because all we have to lose is time.  Because the fear of loss holds us back from being who we are and what we are meant to be. 

We are trial lawyers.

Vernon Sumwalt is the 2019-2020 President of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice and a partner at The Sumwalt Law Firm in Charlotte. Sumwalt is a North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Specialist in Appellate Practice and Workers’ Compensation Law and has served in numerous leadership positions for both the NC State Bar and NC Bar Association’s workers’ compensation committees and sections.