Lawyer Marketeer Stephen Fairley: Rainmaker or Racketeer?

Stephen Fairley, head of the Rainmaker Institute, Avvo’s Lawyernomics “columnist” and inspirational speaker, was called something new according to Courthouse News:

PHOENIX (CN) – A law firm claims in a RICO lawsuit that The Rainmaker Institute – which calls itself “the nation’s largest law-firm marketing provider” – charged it $49,000 to increase its visibility on Google, knowing that its work violated Google’s guidelines.

Seikaly & Stewart, of Farmington Hills, Mich., sued The Rainmaker Institute and its CEO Stephen Fairley, in Federal Court.

Seikaly & Stewart claim the defendants created a “bogus Internet marketing program, supposedly designed for small law firms and sole practitioners.”

Everybody and their brother tries to play the SEO game, search engine optimization, which explains the tens of thousands of spam backlink comments, the “guest post” scam and pingbacks that deluge anyone whose blog or website has any potential to lend them some Google cred. But Seikaly & Stewart paid Fairley $49,000 for what a bunch of starving kids in Bangalore would do for $7.95 and a box of corn flakes?  Sheesh, that’s humiliating.

Seikaly & Stewart claim that “the Victim Firms were duped into believing that the services to be provided by The Rainmaker Institute, a company owned and/or controlled by defendant Fairley, would be effective in making the web sites and related web pages of the Victim Firms appear high in the results of the most important internet search engines – most significantly Google – when key terms chosen by the Victim Firms to describe their practices and the services offered were entered in a search by potential clients. Plaintiff and others paid many thousands of dollars, individually and collectively to The Rainmaker Institute to obtain these services, only to find that they were, in most instances completely unsuccessful.

Not to be unsympathetic, but did you seriously think that Fairley, or any of the other marketeers promising magic bullet solutions to turn you from internet zero to hero overnight had a chance?

But before we start throwing around words like “racketeer,” did Fairley get your money by threatening to break your kneecaps? Did he put in the promised effort and fail miserably to get the puffed results?

The Rainmaker Institute disclaimed all liability for lack of success of its efforts, and this case is not brought for lack of success per se, the lack of success merely being evidence of fraud and damages to business or property. The action is based on the fact that, at the time that the defendants were promoting this marketing scheme to the Victim Firms, they knew that the techniques they proposed to use were in violation of the guidelines already well-established and published by Google; knew that Google was moving rapidly to crack down on violators; knew that use of these techniques would not only fail to enhance the likelihood that the Victim Firms would rise in Google’s rankings but would actually be downgraded to the point where the websites being used by the Victim Firms would become ‘contaminated’ for search engine purposes; knew that they intended to use automated programs rather than direct personal effort to create the appearance that links to the Victim Firms web pages (the key to rising in search engine rankings) were being generated in the numbers represented; and knew that they intended to cloak their schemes in allegations of ‘trade secrets’ to avoid the balance of the scheme from coming to light.”

Trade secrets, huh? Had you put in about ten minutes of effort, you might have found their trade secrets plastered all over legitimate blawgs, this one for example, that would have clued you in to the fact that there wasn’t a chance in hell it was going to work. Do the math, guys. Everybody can’t be on page 1 of Google. Everybody with a clue knew that Google didn’t like being played by schemers and scammers, and any lawyer with minimal internet savvy understood that the nuts and bolts were played out in boiler rooms in exotic locales.

The gravamen of the complaint is that Seikaly & Stewart apparently wanted to play the public by showing up on the first page of Google, as if it earned its way to that vaunted bit of virtual real estate organically. Instead, Fairley beat them at the game, deceiving them to the tune of $49 grand, with promises of vast internet wealth and prestige, by doing what every marketeer does, promise the world and deliver, well, nothing. Sometimes worse than nothing, as the Google-gods got pissed off at being played.

And, the law office claims, “even after it became evident that defendants’ methods were not capable of achieving the results that had been represented to the victim firms and that, in fact, web page rankings were not being achieved as represented, defendants continued to market their services in much the same way and continued to withhold from existing victims the fact that the services for which the defendants were being paid were worthless.”

Don’t blame Fairley for being a particularly successful member of a particularly disgraceful industry. He sold you a bill of goods. That’s what marketeers do. Didn’t you realize that when you put your reputation, your ethics, your livelihood and your cash into the hands of schemers, you’re going to get burned? What’s next, suing Nigeria for its prince welching on your inheritance?

Did Fairley lie to Seikaly & Stewart? How would anyone know, since the entirety of internet marketing schemes are based on deception and manipulation? And were Seikaly & Stewart victimized by Fairley’s unkept promises? It’s beyond ironic that a firm seeking to buy its way to prominence from a marketeer complains that it was out-deceived. It’s not that they have no cause of action, having paid a pretty sweet sum to the Rainmaker Institute and gotten bupkis in return, but that when someone seeks to game the system and got played in return, it’s just awfully hard to feel badly about the whole thing.  Plus, it’s always fun to see the imaginative uses to which civil RICO is put.

In the meantime, looking forward to Fairley’s next Avvo post, Is anyone dumber than lawyers when it comes to forking over a ton of money for nothing?  Isn’t it nice to be the gold-standard in lawyer marketeering?

H/T Venkat Balasubramani




99 thoughts on “Lawyer Marketeer Stephen Fairley: Rainmaker or Racketeer?

  1. Nagita Karunaratne

    This is ironic.

    You hire someone to steal from a third party and you are actually surprised when they run away with your money.

    1. SHG Post author

      You can’t say steal. For all I know, the firm does brilliant work and represents its clients with complete integrity and zeal. But that doesn’t mean that the irony of its marketing, and its subsequent claim, isn’t off the charts.

  2. Turk

    OK, now Seikaly & Stewart has some Google juice.

    Fairley defense: Look! inbound links from real sites! Told ya!

      1. Wheeze The People

        As he looked at my big brown eye and said,
        You ain’t seen nothin’ yet
        B-B-B-Baby, you just ain’t seen n-n-n-nothin’ yet
        Here’s something that you’re never gonna forget
        B-B-B-Baby, you just ain’t seen n-n-n-nothin’ yet . . .


    Well let’s start with it’s a lawsuit. Allegations. Allegations from morons. People who were too stupid to realize, as you said, that not everyone can be on the front page of Google. Starry eyed lawyers looking for clicks and hits and all too eager to write the check. As I said on twitter: “Who do you root for?”

    But Fairley has a problem if this gets past a motion to dismiss. He’s going to have to divulge his “trade secrets,” and other things that will be subject to attack. It’s bad for the marketing “profession.” Lawyers will cry.

    What will happen here is two things – other marketers will use it as a way to explain that they are different – and some are – but more importantly, watch those that embraced Fairley, said he “really knew what he was talking about,” watch them all get together and…..say nothing. They will scurry away from him and pretend they never knew him.

    Internet Marketers are the best to watch at times like this, you can see what they stand for, which is mostly nothing.

    1. SHG Post author

      I expect a flurry of internet marketers to come to Fairley’s aid. It’s just that the wifi is down at Starbucks, but as soon as it’s back up, you watch.

  4. Marilou Auer

    “Is anyone dumber than lawyers when it comes to forking over a ton of money for nothing?”

    This widespread belief is why legal secretaries spend a great deal of time acting as a gatekeeper to stave off telemarketers who believe lawyers are complete suckers. They don’t get past a good secretary, but they try every trick known to man to get to the man who writes the checks.

  5. PGAtkinson

    “He sold you a bill of goods. That’s what marketeers do.”

    I was with you until this comment, which undermines the legitimacy of your post. Crooked sales people do this, not marketERS. I hope that this was an inartful comment and not how you view marketing.

    Marketing and business development is a professional service and science that takes years to develop within an organization – or a skill which an individual (marketer or lawyer) must practice for years to master. This is one aspect of business operations that the legal industry continues to neglect. There is no magic bullet for generating new clients and revenue greowth as promised by products such as “Rainmaker in a Box.” The industry will continue to succumb to these types of shoddy business practices and snake oil consultants until it recognizes the legitimate practice of marketing and business development.

    1. SHG Post author

      Marketing is not a “professional service and science,” except in the world of marketeers where words mean nothing. Sorry, but you sell bullshit for a living, no matter what you tell yourself.

      And impossible as it may be for you to imagine, it really doesn’t matter at all whether you agree with all or nothing about this post.

      1. PGAtkinson

        Noted SHG. This was the first time for me to visit the blog after someone forwraded me a link to this post. I was not aware I would be personally attacked for sharing an opinion. Since, you have made it vehemently clear you don’t care what others think, why bother with the public blog?

        1. SHG Post author

          You keep giving me gifts, which is terribly kind of you given how poorly I’ve treated you and how poorly I will treat you now.

          The first time you’ve visited the blog? That’s because this is a law blog. Nothing you would have any interest in at all. This isn’t a blog to rub the tummies of phonies and make them feel all validated after another day of pretending they’re almost professional-ly or science-y. This is a blog for people who give a damn about ethics, integrity, accuracy and honesty, words that only have value to you when injecting them in some marketing pitch.

          The reason you were personally attacked isn’t for “sharing an opinion,” but smearing bullshit. Yet again, words have meaning here, unlike whatever dark corner you hang out in.

          And finally, I made it vehemently clear I don’t care what you think. Not others, you. That’s because you’re full of shit. And the reason I have a public blog is so others can laugh at people who are full of shit. And they are.

            1. SHG Post author

              I see you have that thing where you need to get in the last word, as if to salvage your dignity. But I’m so very glad you love it. Because I seek validation and now my self-esteem is through the roof.

    2. Jordan Rushie

      The job of a marketeer is to try and turn chicken shit into chicken salad.

      At the end of the day, you’re still trying to make people buy a shit sandwich.

      Selling shit sandwiches is not exactly noble, or a profession.

      1. SHG Post author

        I would find it far more beneficial to hear from a marketeer who didn’t try to puff himself into a pseudo-professional using “science” to sell laundry detergent. But I’ve yet to see one of them not come here and try to spin bullshit. Sad and pathetic.

        1. Jordan Rushie

          I have trouble with the whole marketeering concept, at least for lawyers. My approach has been to get in touch with successful lawyers and offer to buy them breakfast / lunch. Usually they end up picking up the tab.

          Their advice has been remarkably similar – do a good job for your clients, and be fair and reasonable with them. Develop expertise in a few niche areas. Get good at what you do, but understand that it takes a lifetime. Hang out places where potential clients are. Start a legal blog that people actually read. Take people out to lunch instead of eating at your desk. Get well known in your community, and by members of the bar. Don’t view the old guys as competition – they are your best referral sources for cases where the client can pay “something” but not full boat. Become a person known for your integrity and honesty, who will fight like hell for a client.

          Not one of them has ever said “Get really good at Twitter, and hire some guy to help with your Google ranking.” The only ones saying that stuff are usually marketeers, none of whom were ever successful lawyers, yet all too happy to take my money….

      2. Wheeze The People

        But know with certainty that there exists a point at which, if you slather enough guacamole on a shit sandwich, that you can’t even tell you’re eating shit anymore. Eat them often enough and you learn to like ’em, I swear . . .

    3. Turk

      Marketing and business development is a professional service and science …

      Those who actually work in objective and quantifiable analysis — chemists, physicists, biologists and such — probably got a nice little chuckle out of that whole “science” thing.

      Wouldn’t it be easier to just pin a sign to your back that says “Kick me?”

    4. Marilou Auer

      PG, it was definitely not an inartful comment. Its brevity spoke volumes of truth.

      Then you went on to say: “There is no magic bullet for generating new clients and revenue greowth (sic)……. ”

      I’ll tell you what the magic bullet is, at no charge. The magic bullet is consistently meeting client needs, maintaining a high standard of ethics, doing what needs to be done for every case, preparing thoroughly, and giving every case the attention it requires, including research, interviewing witnesses, etc. The magic bullet involves building relationships with other lawyers, court personnel, and others with whom a lawyer associates. The magic bullet requires that new and inexperienced lawyers find someone whom they can trust to give them reliable and accurate assistance while they learn their way. The magic bullet involves doing everything one can to do a good job for every client. Rewards in the form of referrals and repeat business will follow.

      Nowhere in the foregoing did you see any mention of a marketer or marketeer. There’s a reason for that.

      Again, no charge. You’re welcome.

  6. Jordan Rushie

    I haven’t heard anything about this from other marketeers.

    What’s going on? Why is it so quiet?

    Isn’t it like SO important for lawyers to spend their time manipulating Google instead of developing a reputation for being good?

  7. Antonin I. Pribetic

    There’s a difference between racketeering and flawging a marketing racket. I’m just not sure what the difference is. At least we’ll have a respite from Fairley’s spamarific Rainmaker retreat LinkedIn invitations…hopefully.

  8. John Neff

    My training as a scientist is to not believe anything that I cannot independently verify. I don’t know how CDLs are trained but it seems reaonable that they have similar views. The marketers do not have that trait.

  9. Steve Hennigs

    I sell software to firms for a living so I suppose that would put me in the marketer bucket.

    I do not know Stephen Fairley personally and only know his company through what I have read. In terms of what I know of the case I only have the facts presented in the Courthouse News report and the opinions on this blog along with the Lawyerist writing. So here are my thoughts.

    It looks as though the blame should be about 70% on Fairley (I could actually be talked into higher blame for him) and 30% on the firm.

    There are two big problems I have with what Fairely is doing here: lack of transparency and failing to set expectations.

    Lack of transparency b/c of the “trade secrets” being used. That is absolute nonsense. If a law firm chooses to invest in SEO (and not all of them need to) then they should be educated by their provider what will be done to improve their ranking for particular terms. Do there have to be line items? Not necessarily. But the firm should have a good understanding of the processes and tactics being used.

    Failing to set expectations is where I have an even bigger issue. In any service that requires an amount of expertise it is critical that the expected ROI be agreed upon by both the provider and the consumer before a contract is signed and a project is started. That way everyone knows if the project has been successful. That clearly was not the case here.

    The reason that I would still place 30% of the blame on the firm is that if you are going to spend $50,000 on anything you need to do a better job of due diligence. Plain and simple.

    I am not here, as Brian T. asserts, “to explain that they (I) are (am) different”. That is why I have not shared my company website. Seeing this type of action taken by a firm was both alarming and refreshing. It is clear that marketing is not viewed as viable by many attorneys and this case is necessary to move the profession forward. I simply felt the need to comment.

    1. SHG Post author

      Your first line makes all the difference in the world. You are not marketing a professional legal practice, but a good, software. It’s entirely different.

    2. Jordan Rushie

      Selling software is a perfectly legitimate career. You are educating users about how a product will benefit their business.

      What we are talking about are marketeers. They are usually non-lawyers, or failed lawyers, who claim to teach lawyers how to get clients. Their advice is almost universally stupid, too – master the power of Twitter, manipulate Google search engines, Yelp is the best place to find lawyers, etc. For a price (apparently $49k), they’ll be happy to spam the internet and legal blogs with stupid comments, too. The marketeers make outrageous and false claims that they are authorities on drumming up business, even though many of them have never actually signed up a client and represented them before. Just give them money and shut up.

      The same marketeers get angry when real, actual, lawyers with thriving practices say “that doesn’t work, and it makes you look stupid.”

      I have no problem with people who sell stuff for a living. What I have a problem with are people who sell nothing for a living, and try and act like it’s something.

        1. SHG Post author

          For all the purported skepticism, lawyers are pathetically vulnerable to scams. Something is very wrong, indeed.

  10. BL1Y


    Do you think the legal marketing arms race some firms engage in has any effect on lawyers not engaged in it?

    I’m asking because if just a few firms are shelling out a considerable amount of money on marketing, then I don’t see there being too much impact on clients. Those firms still have to offer competitive rates, and so the marketing expensive just increases their overhead, and cuts down their profits, but leaves the client more or less in the same position.

    But, if their spending leads other firms to spend more, then rates start to rise across the board. Again, I think the effect would be largely to just eat away part of a firm’s profits — prices are typically set by what the market will bear, not what the lawyer needs to get by. Clients should still be paying pretty much the same rates. The difference is that certain low ends of the market no longer are profitable at all to serve, and so lawyers will stop serving them.

    Here’s an example: Trenchy, Esq. wants to serve a non-affluent community. He works 2000 billable hours a year, and needs to earn $40,000 in profits. His firm’s overhead is only $20,000 a year, so he can get by charging $30/hr.

    Unfortunately, a herd of wild marketeers has descended on his community. While their strategies are fairly ineffective, they are able to steer some clients to the firms they work for. Because his competitors now get more business, Trenchy gets less — only 1600 hours a year, and with that income he’s better off leaving practice for another field. If he wants to continuing practice, has two options; either he can steer his practice more towards higher paying clients, or he can spend some money on marketing to get back some of the lost clients. Goliath Marketing is able to get him 1 billable hour for every $15 he spends on marketing. So, he gets back up to 2000, but his overhead is increased by $6,000, and he has to charge a minimum of $33/hr. No matter what he does, leave for a different industry, cater to a different market, or increase his marketing spending, the people who could only afford $30-32/hr no longer have a lawyer.

    I know the numbers aren’t entirely realistic, but do you think that’s a realistic affect that marketing spending by some firms could have on the industry as a whole, and more importantly, on the clients?

    1. SHG Post author

      Lawyers spending money on marketing see it as an investment in their firm rather than throwing it down a hole. By definition, if an investment doesn’t pay off and the funding is lost, it leaves a gap behind that must somehow be filled or suffered. It also creates something of a race to the bottom among its competitors, forcing them to do the same.

      While there are always unintended consequences, a known consequence is that it will cause a race to the bottom and a shift to compensate for the loss. Does that impact associate attorneys to compensate for the loss? Very possible. Does that affect the financial stability of the firm as a whole. Possibly. Does that tar all the lawyers at the firm with the ethical “challenges” of the marketing effort. Likely.

      Remember, every dollar spent on wasteful expenses is a dollar less in funds available for salaries (if an employee) or profits (if an owner). If they need to maintain a minimum amount of salary or profit to survive, it has to come from somewhere. If they piss it away on nonsense marketing, they either charge more, since they can’t take on more work (more hours) because the marketing failed and they don’t have the work, or cut expenses somewhere else to fill the gap.

      In your example, Trenchy wants to charge more reasonable rates to serve a less affluent community. Assuming he’s otherwise honest and won’t lie about his hours, the only option would be to charge higher rates to make up for the lost revenue, and given his clientele, that might not be an option at all.

  11. Turk

    Does that tar all the lawyers at the firm with the ethical “challenges” of the marketing effort. Likely.

    Stop. Bad marketing doesn’t just tar all the lawyers at the firm. It tars all lawyers. Period.

    Every time I walk into a jury room to pick I must face the realization that it is bad marketing — subway ads, cheapie commercials, solicitations — that jurors remember. That hurts me, my client, and the profession as a whole.

  12. Newbie Blogger

    I am a paralegal who was recently hired by a personal injury law firm to write their legal blog. I have no marketing background whatsoever, and have feel like I’ve been dropped into the deep end of the pool with no swimming lessons. That being said, even *I* thought the emails from the Rainmaker Institute seemed to be the ramblings of a snake oil salesman.
    On a completely selfish note: I need help. I was told to scour the web for news stories and then “blog about them.” Each morning I try my best to find interesting topics that have relevance to our practice (FDA recalls, stories about nursing home neglect/abuse, recent settlements/jury awards, etc.) Despite my best efforts, we get very little traffic and almost no comments. I post links to the blog on Facebook and, as my boss calls it, “the Twitter.”
    You obviously have a thriving blog — any suggestions to make ours more… um… less sucky? Frankly, I have no idea why anyone other than a lawyer at another personal injury firm would bother to read our blog, but I have a job to do, so I’m reaching out wherever I can to find help. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. SHG Post author

      While this isn’t the time or place to give you blogging advice, I will say one thing: if your boss wants a blog, tell him to get off his lazy, sorry ass and write one. You’re not a lawyer and have no “value” to add that would make anyone want to read. You can’t. He probably can’t either, as most lawyers can’t write worth a damn and would have nothing worthwhile to say regardless, so your blog will suck. If you’re writing under his name, then he’s committing a fraud and you’re helping him to do so. Just because it’s your job doesn’t mean you can or should do it. Sorry, but that’s how it works.

    2. turk

      I have no marketing background whatsoever, and have feel like I’ve been dropped into the deep end of the pool with no swimming lessons.

      I was told to scour the web for news stories and then “blog about them.”

      Your comment would be a good blog post. Ironic, no?

      It’s the difference between writing what you want and writing because you have to.

      1. SHG Post author

        A good blog post? We could write that post once a month, so every n00b lawyer who shows up on the interwebz thinking they can game the system and become an overnight sensation will hear it. How many times have we made these points, but every day some new fool lawyer shows up, clueless about social media but determined to follow some insipid Ten Steps To Fabulous Wealth pitch.

        Do you really want to write the same post about the utter stupidity of all this once a month?

          1. SHG Post author

            Not if he/she wants to get paid at the end of the week. But it has to come from someone who gets read for the paralegal’s boss to realize the wrong of what he’s doing and forcing the para to do. The point is to serve as a contrary voice to whatever put the notion in para’s boss’ head that this is how lawyers get rich on the internet.

    3. Marilou Auer

      No offense, but you need an editor, or you need to proofread carefully.

      Secondly, are you stating that writing the firm’s blog posts is your only duty?

      And why do you equate a blog with marketing?

      1. Turk

        No offense, but you need an editor, or you need to proofread carefully.

        Fugetaboutit. It’s a blog comment. Spelling and grammer are optional.

        1. Marilou Auer

          But, Honey, I try to think of the future, in that his comment may be quoted elsewhere, and it should be correct. Grammar is important!!

          Besides, it was advice to him more than looking ahead, if his blog posts are not proofread, those who care about grammar and spelling are never going to take him seriously.

  13. Jay S. Fleischman

    I practice full-time. I also teach lawyers how to do this stuff (you know that but for those who don’t, it helps to put this comment in perspective and allows the reader to take it with the requisite grain of salt).

    The issue of marketing a practice is a balancing act. You’ve got to be competent and work your ass off for your clients. You need to get out there and be known in the community for what you do. For people who practice in a field in which the primary means of finding a lawyer is blind luck and late-night searches online struggling to get an answer, however, you need to be front and center.

    It sucks, but it’s true. I do bankruptcy work – what a colleague calls the equivalent of being a VD clinic – so there’s a lot of that 2am searching going on by people who need to figure out what the hell to do with their finances. So I write as often and in as many places as is possible giving the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day (and I like to sleep for at least a few of them).

    Sometimes I write well, other times not so much. It’s a process, and I guess it helps that I took a load of writing courses in college in preparation for a career as a novelist that never went anywhere.

    I write from the position of being a lawyer for 18 years, doing the hard work day in and day out. I’m good at what I do, and my hope is that people who read what I write find the information useful enough that they give me a call. And if I’m not the right lawyer for them, I hope they’ll find someone who meets their needs.

    For some lawyers, simply being good at what they do is enough. For others, that’s got to come with some exposure to the people who need their help.

    That’s marketing, be it online or offline. I blog, I podcast, I speak whenever someone’s inclined to provide me with a stage on which to do so, and I mentor new attorneys. It takes a ton of time and effort, but there you have it – being a self-employed professional of any stripe requires nothing less.

    Be a good lawyer, stay on top of your skill set, and be visible to those who may need you either as a client or a referral source.

    Simple, but not easy by a long shot.

    The problem is when you’re outsourcing your ethics and voice. Hire someone to blog for you? To post your tweets or LinkedIn spam? That’s a shortcut, and it’s unacceptable. In fact, I would go so far as to say it should be grounds for a bar complaint.

    Would you dress up your child, send it off to court with your business card, and have it proclaim to the judge that it is you? Of course not.

    But some lawyers are so desperate for the quick fix and the promise of being seen as a big shot in their field that they will fork over any amount of money to the first person who makes a promise to them.

    That’s why you get those spam comments saying, “I am pleased to be liking your blog and will bookmark it for all my life.” Lawyers have no idea what their marketing people do for them – they write the check each month and forget that someone’s out there playing with their reputation.

    It’s not quick, it’s not easy, and it most often involves a skill set that lawyers simply don’t have. I think it’s important that the new crop of lawyers develop these skills, but not to the detriment of their professional development and ethics.

    1. SHG Post author

      Hi Jay. You need to have a chat with Aksimet as I found your comment by chance in my spam folder and salvaged it. They apparently think you’re a spammer.

      And your comment is long. Very long. Maybe next time you could do a TL;dr version?


      “It’s not quick, it’s not easy, and it most often involves a skill set that lawyers simply don’t have.”

      This is how marketers make money. Lawyers see the internet and say “I need to be there.” They don’t want to (or can’t) write, and they claim to not have time or they don’t have the desire to actually talk to people on twitter or Facebook. They just want someone to do it for them.

      And there are people who will do that.

      1. SHG Post author

        Wait. You read Jay’s entire comment and you did the math question? Mark the calendar, today is Tannebaum Day!

        And there are people who will do that.

        And by what name are these evil-doers known?

  14. George Murphy

    SHG- I think your blog is great and you made some good points.

    My name is George Murphy and I recognize some of the names of people who have left comments. I own a small website design and SEO firm for law firms called The Search Ninjas, and before starting TSN I was the Director of Web Marketing for Foster Web Marketing, where I launched and trained their SEO department and worked with hundreds of law firms throughout the country.

    I wrote a response to this post on our blog, it’s located at [Ed. Note: Link deleted per rules.]

    I just wanted to chime in from a different perspective, and everyone’s thoughts and comments are welcome.


    1. SHG Post author

      Cool story, George. Next time, though, check the rules so you’ll see that I don’t allow links in comments. I’m also not particularly fond of people who fish for readers or comments for their blog here. But most importantly, since I read your post, this bit of advice:

      1. George Murphy

        A little before my time but that’s a funny video, not really sure what I assumed but nonetheless, I didn’t mean to come off as a “spammer” looking to promote a story. My apologies, thanks for the response!

      1. SHG Post author

        Cute George. Except I happen to know Sanesh (he usually goes by the name of Henry) and he thinks I’m an old fart too.


          I read this and think, this is good and will benefitt my readers. Thanks for writinG and have a good day!

  15. Newbie Blogger

    Thank you all for your candid responses. (SHG, I do realize my comment was a bit self-serving and off-topic, so a big thanks to you for the advice.)

    Here are answers to some of the questions posed by your readers:
    – I don’t have an editor per se, but at least one other set of eyes in the marketing department reviews anything before it is posted.
    – Most of the blogs are simple “news regurgitation” with the typical “call to action” tagged on the end. (I hate writing these, but that’s what I was told to do.)
    -For blogs dealing with substantive legal issues, I go to one of the attorneys at the firm to make sure legal terms and statutes are explained properly.
    – I was hired to write the firm’s blog and manage our social media accounts. I also write web content for the firm’s Web site and coordinate outside content by FindLaw and other groups written on behalf of the firm.
    – On occasion, I do ghostwrite for our partners at their request. Is this really considered to be fraud?
    Should I resign?

    1. SHG Post author

      Everybody hates those phony posts with the call for action. It will fail. It always fails. There is nothing you can do about it, and whoever told you to do that has no clue what they’re doing.

      As for ghostwriting for your partners, if they had any significant involvement in writing the post, then they can legitimately put their name to it. If not, then it’s a lie. As for resigning, don’t be ridiculous. Let them pay you for as long as you can. A fool and his money…

  16. ANON

    I actually worked for Stephen Fairley and The Rainmaker Institute last year. I am going to be honest and say right now that I am NOT surprised that he is being sued. For years he has duped clients into paying high prices for services he knew did nothing. He built blogs that for almost a year had the firms name spelled wrong, or were not even indexed into search engines.

    When I still worked there, there were a number of attorneys who were paying him and he was doing nothing for them in return because the attorneys didn’t see the books and the person in charge of the books had no idea it was happening. Now, I am not saying that those attorneys are innocent…hell if it was my money then I would be all over it like white on rice.. yet they didn’t notice because maybe they didn’t care?! BUT, shouldn’t we question the integrity of Fairley and say that The Rainmaker Institute is Scamming attorneys by taking money and not providing in return? The link building tactics he sold attorneys was always a tainted service that he knew never worked. This is NOT the first client that had problems because of it. I actually saw him buy out the silence of at least a dozen clients.

    Fairley doesn’t give the marketing industry/leaders a good light. If I were them I would let him burn in this situation and wait out the time it takes for him to be forgotten. Now, I am not intentionally bad mouthing him to be a spiteful ex worker, I could have done that when I first quit last year. However, since I have seen this news coming into light I thought I should share with you all some actual insight.

    1. SHG Post author

      Sorry, anon, but without putting your name to your words, I can’t credit that you’re telling the truth. On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.

      1. ANON

        Well if you knew Stephen better, then you would know if I did that then he would slap a lawsuit on me for slandering his good name. But if you must know my name is John, I am withholding last name though.

        1. SHG Post author

          I can appreciate your reason for wanting to remain anonymous. I trust you can appreciate why that’s an issue.

          1. ANON

            I absolutely appreciate why it is an issue. I guess there has to be some trust. You will slowly but surely see other clients come out of the wood work here.

            1. SHG Post author

              It’s not that I doubt you, but that it’s simply not possible to credit anonymous attacks. It’s not a reflection on you or what you say, but just a rule of life on the internet.

  17. turd

    Putting all marketers in the same category as Rainmaker is like putting all lawyers in the same category as the sleazy lawyers who have shit TV ads with shit budgets that don’t understand the concept of branding. Not all lawyers are like that, not all marketers are either. If you dare take an objective approach to SEO, do yourself a favor and do some research (see: Google) on “Rand Fishkin” and let me know what you find.

    The law profession has this ridiculous attitude toward marketing, and especially SEO, because you don’t understand the concepts behind it. That’s why a company like Rainmaker exists. But if you took the time to understand that building your brand online – not manipulating Google, as one very clever commenter says – is the equivalent of putting up a sign on the corner pointing to your physical location, you’d see the value in marketing. It’s too bad there’s a lot of marketing companies that don’t operate with integrity, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It’s just like any other industry. Your rants against SEO and marketing are the reason you’ll continue to misunderstand SEO/marketing, and what you don’t understand, you fear. Good luck inside your bubble.

    1. SHG Post author

      So, what happens if you strain your mind to attempt to use basic logic? Would it make your head explode? You start with a false analogy, say lawyers are “ridiculous,” bizarrely compare SEO to putting a sign on the corner, and conclude that anyone who doesn’t “understand” SEO lives in a bubble? Or maybe you live in the gutter with the rest of the slime?

      You have not done the SEO biz any good with this inane yet vacuous nonsense. Just because you lack the capacity to grasp the absence of reason doesn’t mean anyone else does.

      1. turd

        Ah, yes, vacuousness! Absence of reason! Bizarre comparisons! Lacking capacities!

        Anyway this is obviously going nowhere. If you really think the comparison between SEO and a physical sign is bizarre, there’s not much I can do for you. Oh well. You’ll be fine. But if you ever need SEO services holler at me.

        1. SHG Post author

          Did you expect to blow in here, spout stupidty, and receive a standing ovation? No, there’s not much you can do for me, but then, no one asked you to. Wait by the phone, just in case.

    2. turk

      The law profession has this ridiculous attitude toward marketing, and especially SEO, because you don’t understand the concepts behind it.

      The “problem” is not that we don’t understand SEO; the problem is that we do.

      1. SHG Post author

        Ironically, the sleazebag posted under the name “turk,” but in order to avoid confusion with you, I changed one letter of his name. It just seemed more appropriate, if a bit juvenile. My bad.

        1. SHG Post author

          No, no, no. First, you don’t get to ask here. This is my home and you’re here only at my sufferance. Second, humor “us”? Are you schizophrenic as well, or is that the Royal “us”? Either way, therapy seems to be far more likely in your future than SEO.

  18. Jeena

    What the marketeers don’t get is that lawyers like you and Turk are teaching lawyers blogging and SEO every single day without charging them a dime. Whether those lawyers understand this or not is a different question entirely.

  19. Ashley O.

    I work for a law firm and am still fairly new to the entire legal world. I think what I’m confused by is maybe just a matter of definitions. Don’t get me wrong, I have a fairly dim view of marketing and marketers in general. But I have a difficult time arguing with their effectiveness.

    Every day we struggle with the dilemma of how to compete against law firms who engage in multi-million dollar marketing campaigns with their name plastered all over every billboard, television, radio, bus and park bench in town. And these attorneys are wildly successful at plucking PNCs away. I highly doubt these attorneys got to where they are by being the best man or woman in town, or by working hard for their clients… but rather by simply being the one whose face is most ubiquitous.

    Do you include these types of advertising blitzes under the umbrella of marketing?

    1. SHG Post author

      Huh? Of course it’s marketing, but we’re not addressing all forms of marketing here. In some types of practice, PI for instance, branding and name recognition are successfully used to play to the ignorance of potential clients, who call the number on the screen rather than do the heavy lifting of finding out who is a competent, ethical lawyer. So if what you mean to ask is whether it works, of course it does to some extent.

      But that type of sleazy marketing comes at a huge price to the integrity of the profession and to the welfare of the public. Worse still, it drives the “race to the bottom,” where the next firm has to use ever-more-outrageous marketing to outdo the marketing of the firm before it, and so it spirals downward and out of the control, making all of us worse for it.

      1. Ashley O.

        Okay that makes sense. I think I was reading the general revulsion towards marketing as a general indictment of their effectiveness. And I definitely agree about the “race to the bottom”.

        The issue I’ve seen with marketers is that they’re very good at playing the definition game in order to wriggle out of being labelled as a marketer. They either adopt an overly broad definition of marketing and say, “Well, everything anyone does to put their name out there is marketing, so ALL marketing can’t be bad!” or they adopt an overly narrow view of marketing and say, “No no no, marketing is this, this and this. And we do that, that and that. So we’re not actually marketing at all!”

        I tend to lean towards the former, and just go by a few simple rules. If it seems sleazy, don’t do it. And if it sounds too good to be true, don’t do it. That’s why this scares me: $49,000 is a pretty sizable sum. If someone told me their plan cost more than my salary to implement, I could easily see myself getting duped by thinking, “Well, his claims are big but so is his price tag, so it’s not exactly too good to be true.” From my (admittedly limited) experience, the sleazebags offering magic bullets seem to do it for a relatively small amount of money in comparison to their claims.

        1. SHG Post author

          Marketing in general, and particular types of marketing, have been addressed here many times in great detail here. This post isn’t about that, and your comment really has nothing to do with this post. Let’s try to keep comments reasonably on point.

  20. Ashley O

    Okay, sorry about that… this is my first time posting here. Beginners mistake. I thought it was relevant because it seems like a large number of comments were from marketers who were using this as a platform to tell us all how they are “different”. But you are right , the original post was about one specific marketer not marketing in general.

    Didn’t mean to offend… Ill go back to reading the blog instead of commenting on it until I have something relevant to add.

    1. SHG Post author

      No problem. I let the marketeers have a little greater latitude so they don’t whine that I’ve unfairly silenced their very valuable views and to allow them to dig their grave. It’s always a fun game to play.


          I don’t know Kweefy. (I think I knew a kid in 7th grade…no, wait, im thinking of George Jefferson’s wife) but I’m assuming (yes, I saw the video) Kweefy was linking to a picture or a cartoon. I think you should exempt pictures and cartoons. Especially cartoons. I like cartoons.

          1. SHG Post author

            I will take it under advisement. In the meantime, Kweefy and others are still welcome to use words to express thoughts to the extent possible.

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