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Do Attorneys Really Matter? What’s Your Value?

Tune in to learn how two campaigns, The Florida Bar’s “Hire an Attorney” and The Fund’s “Value of a Real Estate Attorney” are tackling this issue. Melissa’s guest will be Michael Gelfand, a member of The Florida Bar Board of Governors.

Length: 24:31
Published: 03/01/2023

Listen In: Apple Podcasts or YouTube Podcasts


Attorneys in real estate and related practices have a hard time getting the message out about the value they bring to the table. There are so many misconceptions – what they do, how they do it and how much they cost. Tune in to learn how two campaigns, The Florida Bar’s “Hire an Attorney” and The Fund’s “Value of a Real Estate Attorney” are tackling this issue. Melissa’s guest will be Michael Gelfand, a member of The Florida Bar Board of Governors.

Melissa Jay Murphy  00:08
Hello and welcome to The Fund's Title Now PopUp Webinar. I'm calling this my popup webinar for March even though it's on the last day of February, so we won't worry about that technicality. I'm Melissa Murphy and I have the pleasure of hosting these webinars every month. We try to stick to the same format 30 minutes, no charge, and on a wide variety of topics, various things that are affecting the title industry, the real estate attorney world, and they might be brand new topics, they might be old topics that need revisiting. But regardless, we love doing these popup webinars and hope you like listening in, speaking of listening in, we push the audio from these webinars out to our podcast, which is also conveniently called Title Now. And so if you want to listen to the content again or easily share the content with friends and colleagues. It's super easy to subscribe to our podcast, Title Now. You can get it anywhere that you subscribe to your other podcasts. So I hope you will do that. So what are we talking about today? Most attorney ads that you see on television and on billboards are not for real estate attorneys, not for general practitioners. They are her personal injury attorneys. There just aren't that many real estate attorneys smiling down on you from on high as you barrel down the interstate. And I'm going to make a generalization here and say that most real estate attorneys market through their involvement in other professional or industry groups. That might be local boards of Realtors, that might be other realtor related associations or groups, builder associations, Chambers of Commerce. That marketing and interaction is not directed at the clients themselves at the consumer who's going to be the client. Now that's not necessarily true in the builder context, but I think you get my drift. And certainly when it comes to potential business like landlord tenant issues or disputes, probate, wills, partnership agreements, other business relationships, no one markets directly to those potential clients. Well, coincidentally, the Florida Bar and the fund are both launching campaigns this year to address this issue. Now maybe both organizations have a slightly different focus, but the philosophy is the same. Attorneys bring value to life decisions that people need to make. So, I thought it would be interesting for you to learn a little bit about both campaigns. And so my guest today to talk about the Florida Bar campaign, and probably the value of attorneys in general is a really good friend of mine, Michael Gelfand. Now Michael's not here just because he's one of my best friends. He is very involved in the betterment of the legal profession and he has done so much to give back to us. But he's here today because he's a member of the Florida Bar Board of Governors and has some firsthand knowledge of the big Bars campaign. Michael is also a real estate attorney. He specializes, if that's the right term Michael, in HOA and condominium law, association law, but he's very, very familiar with the world of real estate transactions. Welcome, Michael, thanks so much for being here.
Michael Gelfand  04:21
Thank you Melissa and it's an honor to be present with you on this podcast. It's another beautiful day in Florida one of those Chamber of Commerce days as I look outside, and especially as I'm sitting here on Florida real property that was acquired with insurance from The Fund.
Melissa Jay Murphy  04:41
Perfect, Michael! Than you really are the perfect guest.
Michael Gelfand  04:48
I thought I was invited just because I'm good looking.
Melissa Jay Murphy  04:53
We can talk about that offline. Okay. What I would like to talk about today is the Florida Bar campaign. So tell us what the big Bar is doing.
Michael Gelfand  05:03
So to assist not just Florida Bar members directly, but also to target Florida residents and visitors. Look out for the Florida Bar's new program, it's Life's Legal Moments, is the title. This is an initiative of Florida Bar President Gary Lesser.  Life's Legal Moments message is short, simple and helpful. Specifically, you do not need to go it alone. That opening, you do not have to go it alone, is a lifeline engaging the public, our potential clients. You do not have to go it alone is rolling out across media platforms staged at different times in major media markets. You can go to floridalawyerscanhelp.com for information that's posted now. That's floridalawyerscanhelp.com.
Melissa Jay Murphy  06:01
So what media channels are being used Michael? Where our Fund Members likely to see this campaign?
Michael Gelfand  06:11
So this isn't the typical old style effort. In addition to the website I just mentioned, attorneys are creating a [unintelligible 6:20] campaign with professional marketing experts of huge significance to the listeners right now real estate practitioners, you that are on the front line. The first bullet point in the campaign is buying or selling property. So we have a focus right on you real estate attorneys.
Melissa Jay Murphy  06:43
Perfect and I love the tagline, you do not have to go it alone. To me that really gets at the essence of the message that we're trying to deliver to consumers. So talk to me more about kind of the information that you all learned in connection with developing this campaign. And before you do that, I forgot to say at the top of the webinar that if you have any questions, people out there listening, if you have any questions, just post them in the chat. And then we're going to follow up with you after the webinar to respond to your questions. If you have any. So, sorry for not doing that upfront. Michael, talk about what information the bar collected that led them to want to do this campaign.
Michael Gelfand  07:40
So, bottom line is, the information tells us that hiring a lawyer can help the public individuals by saving time, stress, money, and of course, there's a result and that result is better outcomes for individuals whether it's for their business or for their own personal matters, and the data speaks volumes. Those who hired a lawyer in the past 10 years for divorce or custody issues, for example, are 88% more likely to say they were satisfied with the outcomes than those who represented themselves. Three in four Floridians feel that legal issues are difficult to navigate by themselves. In one study, researchers identified almost 200 discrete tasks that self represented litigants [unintelligible 8:40] performed in civil matters. That's from finding the right court, interpreting the law, filing motions, compiling evidence and negotiating a settlement. As a force multiplier, allowing messages from the borrower to have an exponential impact there is also a special emphasis on business owners. You may ask why? They need lawyers, business people take home a lesson to learn from their businesses and apply their work business learning in the so called business of running their personal finances at home, such as buying a residence or buying a second home. It makes a lot of sense.
Melissa Jay Murphy  09:24
I love this concept of having an exponential impact. It's almost as if a consumer, a business owner receives this message, hears this message from the Florida Bar and says, you know I'm getting ready to expand my business and bring in a partner I probably ought to talk to an attorney about this. And when they have a really positive experience as most people apparently do, they end up with a better result. The exponential impact is that that business owner will think to themselves they're buying a home let me call that lawyer and see what they have to say, what they would do for me in representing me in buying a home. I love that concept. But the important thing is to get the message out Michael. So is the Florida Bar relying solely on potential clients just hearing this message? Can individual members of the bar do anything to promote themselves with this campaign?
Michael Gelfand  10:42
So just happenstance we've learned doesn't work and you've raised an excellent point there. The bar is using a number of outlets, different social media platforms to push this message out. The so called traditional media is good for many efforts. But even for those of us that still read newspapers, or tune in television from time to time, we know that most individuals eye and ear time has shifted to other internet based platforms. As for individual involvement, thank you for asking and volunteering. Reinforcement or volunteering all of The Fund's Members, I'm certain that they're happy now to hear this. Reinforcement, especially from those practitioners, your audience, we know is invaluable. You can always remind your clients of life's legal moments, and especially as you're dealing with someone as intake or someone that you're just meeting in a social situation, and there's that invariable lawyer sharp joke. You can remind them after the little giggle that in seriousness, when you're undertaking the biggest investment the most significant decision, buying a house buying, business office, you want to have a lawyer for your life's legal moment.
Melissa Jay Murphy  12:16
I am so thrilled Michael that the Florida Bar has taken this on because it's been needed for so many years. And so I can't wait to see the success of the Florida Bar campaign. And I'm hoping that The Fund has a similar success. So here's what The Fund is doing. We asked ourselves several months ago who is it that needs to know about the value that an attorney brings to real estate transaction and we landed on two groups, consumers because they're the potential clients they're the buyers and sellers and realtors because they remain a very important gatekeeper for where closing businesses is referred. And it's my opinion and it's shared by a number of people here at The Fund that neither of those groups has a really good awareness and understanding on the role that an attorney plays in a real estate transaction. So we are launching two different campaigns this year. We're going to focus first on the realtors. And then we're going to follow that later in the year with a campaign that focuses on the consumer. Now both campaigns will involve outdoor advertising and Michael here's a trivia question for you. Did you know that most billboards now are digital and can be modified and changed. You know from a distance? I had no idea. Um, but anyway, outdoor advertising and also social media and the internet online information that can be accessed through someone putting in certain search terms. Now the outdoor advertising is going to focus initially on three markets so we're testing this campaign in Orlando, Tampa in Miami-Dade. But of course the other outlets will be statewide, the social media, the internet access to information. So we're hoping to be able to target a broad group of realtors and the message to the realtor community is that realtors and attorneys can partner together and our phrase for this is, the dynamic duo, you are better together. And again, our focus is on awareness. Letting the realtor know how they can work with an attorney to have a more effective and successful relationship with their clients. And we want to plant the seed when they see these billboards that they can do a better job for their clients with this dynamic duo. And they can probably get more business because the attorney that they worked with frequently is likely to have the opportunity to refer people to the realtor for their real estate needs. So there's a real symbiotic relationship here, maybe even I can use the word exponential. I like that. Got that from you Gelfand. Now, the campaign for the consumer has a slightly different approach. Our approach there is to educate consumers by an example of a problem situation that they might have encountered or might encounter in connection with a real estate transaction that an attorney could have helped them avoid. Now we're keeping the tone light. We're not trying to tell doomsday stories here because we don't want consumers to come to attorneys out of fear, but come to attorneys out of a better base of knowledge about the role that an attorney can play and the types of problems that an attorney could help them avoid. Because attorneys give value to life decisions, like buying a home. So that's the focus of the realtor campaign and the focus of the consumer campaign. So Michael, what do you think? Is The Fund on target here?
Michael Gelfand  17:04
Absolutely. I love the dynamic duo vision. The Fund pursuing a dual focus is similar to The Bar's life's legal moments campaign, which is also multifaceted. Recognizing that the public are potential clients. They are not monolithic. The Bar reaches out to traditional consumers, but in a new recognition. The Bar is also seeking to educate small business owners of the positive, and I think that's a critical part that you brought up. We should not be there just out of fear, people should not see us with dread. They need to see us as positive and cost effective. Those are the benefits of working with a Florida lawyer. The dual focus reinforces itself if you would, but we all know that if a business person has an attorney, then when that business person has a personal legal need, who's the first person that they're going to call? It's going to be you their business attorney even though it's for their personal items. And that's especially for their real estate needs. Which then returns us back to The Fund.
Melissa Jay Murphy  18:21
I agree 100%. Michael, I find this campaign from The Fund perspective, so exciting because I had the chance to be involved from the very beginning. And as many of our listeners might recall, if they've been supporters of The Fund for many years. 15/20 years ago, we engaged in a very similar campaign, but the outlets were radio and television. Times have changed. That previous effort was incredibly expensive. Beautifully done, but those markets are very, very pricey compared to what technology has brought us through social media and internet and even digital billboarding these days. So I love the fact that we've zeroed in on this. I can't wait to see what the exponential factor is of both of these campaigns because someone might see the Florida Bar campaign and then see our campaign and make the connection. The message we're delivering is attorneys bring value to life decisions.  And if they're hearing it from multiple sources, not just me and not just you, The Florida Bar, I think that's really going to benefit both of us for both groups to be saying positive things like that. There is a great deal of misunderstanding amongst consumers and realtors as to the role that we play and the value that we bring. And I know the Florida Bar is focused on the consumer, the client. We're focused on two different groups but this is such a great opportunity to clear the air on what we do and the value that we bring. And I do want to talk for a minute about, or more specifically, to my Fund Members who are listening. I want you to look for ways that you can leverage this campaign, maybe both campaigns but here I'm really talking about The Funds campaign in your own market, how you can take parts of these campaigns and use them in your local market to bring business your way. Now this may not be a completely valid analogy, but I'm going to use it anyway. Mercedes Benz advertises nationally on television and on the internet, but those are national ads, billboards too. The local dealers still have to differentiate themselves on a local level from their competitors. And real estate attorneys have to do the same. We push out this statewide campaign but you can take this information and leverage it to differentiate yourself locally from your competitors. So we're going to develop some collateral that leverages this campaign that we can send out to Fund Members for you to use in your local market. targeted to the markets and the groups of people that you work most closely with. And you know, the groups of potential referral partners and the groups of potential clients that make the most sense for you. So look for that very soon. So Michael, any parting comments here?
Michael Gelfand  22:16
On the front lines when we talked about it, when you had mentioned before, what can we do individually? How does the segue into our own personal efforts? Frequently when I'm speaking to someone that's thinking about buying a house or buying an office, I talk to them about, consider how much time and the value of that time that you spent researching some digital thing-a-ma-jig. And here you are going to be investing in probably one of the most significant purchases of your entire life, wherever you are in that lifecycle. And especially as home prices have become more and more expensive, and the process more complex, and there are more pitfalls out there, always trying to be positive, of course. You need an attorney, someone who is on your side, someone that can help guide you through the process and the cost is insignificant at the same time especially when I'm dealing with a business person. When you hire an attorney, you also are creating a relationship with someone that you can trust over time, someone that will be either a personal friend or will be friendly in your professional business. And those lifelong relationships are valuable, not just for what we do writing out papers, filling out, completing commitments and all, but that makes it all worthwhile builds up a sense of community.
Melissa Jay Murphy  23:59
I like it. Well, Michael, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us today. And thank you to those that were listening today. And remember, we push this out on our podcast. Be sure to subscribe. It's called Title Now. And of course, as always, thank you for your support of The Fund.