This tape is remarkable not so much for the content (the abuses of freemium – which is somewhat interesting) but rather, for displaying something that we rarely see: a client giving a lawyer a shout-out.
If you don’t believe me, skip ahead to 1:38 of the tape, where Ben Chestnut, MailChimp’s co-founder, describes how moving MailChimp from a paid to free model increased the company’s legal costs by 245 percent. You’d think that at that point, Chestnut would roll his eyes and make a snide comment about useless, money-grubbing lawyers. But instead, Chestnut put up a slide with his lawyer’s photo and proclaimed – “That’s my lawyer Rob – great guy if anyone needs a lawyer who specializes in Internet Law.” [unfortunately, Chestnut didn’t mention his lawyer by his full name – a little sleuthing shows that it’s Rob Hassett of InternetLegal.com.] Later, at 4:25, Chestnut mentions that he’s paid Rob to handle virtually every type of spam matter that MailChimp has encountered, then sighs and exclaims “I love Rob.”
Chestnut isn’t the only satisfied client to give his lawyer a shout out. In her recent book, Committed, Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) gave a shout out to her immigration lawyer (by name – but I can’t remember it) in the acknowledgments, thanking him for shepherding her then boyfriend’s (now husband) immigration paperwork through the process so that he could return to the U.S. and they could marry.
Today, like everything else in marketing, giving testimonials has become routine. We do the job, hand the client a survey and ask for feedback, and hope that embedded within are a couple of nuggets that we can display on our websites or marketing materials. Still, in routinizing the way we gather testimonials, I wonder whether we take away some of the spontaneity and the heart that makes a great testimonials even better – for both the giver and recipient.
In any event, as you probably realize, getting a shout out doesn’t always translate into a huge fee. Yet to me, it’s an even better reward. Because there’s nothing like getting some public and unexpected acknowledgment for doing nothing more than what we lawyers are supposed to do: serve our clients.