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Best Practices in Law Firm Content Marketing

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It’s increasingly important for solo attorneys and law firms to establish their brands in the digital market. Many are using advanced SEO tehchniques to get themselves to the top of the SERPs. Most are also using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram to get the word out about their services, expertise, and success.

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Law Blogs 101

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Law firm management has slowly evolved to include much more than traditional everyday business tasks. In addition to representing their clients, today’s busy attorneys in small or mid-size firms often must troubleshoot IT problems, participate in professional networking, meet current CLE requirements, and market their law firms so that they can be found in a highly competitive legal market. While innovative and well-researched marketing techniques do wonders for most lawyers, the options for and complexities of marketing a law firm in the 21st century only compound the stress that many lawyers experience running their firms.

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Your 2021 Legal Content Marketing Toolkit

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If you’re a law firm and you’re unsure about this content marketing you hear so much about, there’s no reason to panic. Content marketing consists of publishing content on various platforms. The content you publish can be blogs, social media, podcasts, videos, or anything else that allows you to connect with your potential clients. When it comes to legal content marketing, the most important point to keep in mind is that it matters. In fact, according to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing for your firm can garner about three times the number of leads you’re likely to bring in with paid searches. 

Potential Clients Appreciate a Genuine Approach

The web is full of flashy ads that very few of us actually rely upon. In fact, the average online consumer is bombarded with thousands of ads a day, and the sheer volume alone has a way of dimming their shine. It’s difficult to break through that wall of advertising noise with an ad of your own, no matter how well-produced it is. Your potential clients are looking for professional legal guidance, which means they are looking for authenticity, authority, and accessibility. While online ads certainly have their place, they can’t help you connect with potential clients in the same way that well-written, targeted, and informative content can, and this is especially true for law firms. 

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Virginia to Become First State in the Old South to Legalize Marijuana

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Since Colorado and Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2012, several other states have followed. Most recently, Virginia voted to legalize its use in February, becoming the first state in the Old South to legalize its use fully. The bill is still awaiting Governor Northam’s signature, however. While he is a proponent of legalization and is expected to sign it, he may send it back to the legislature with proposed amendments.

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Marketing Ethics for Attorneys: 2021 and Beyond

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The Internet has fundamentally changed the way that people seek and evaluate professional services, including legal services. Increasing brand awareness, acquiring new customers, and achieving financial goals rely heavily on a law firm’s advertising and marketing efforts. Competition among law firms in in all practice areas increases daily. An understanding of the basics of a competitive marketplace is critical for firms that desire to grow.

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SEO Predictions for 2021

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2020 is finally behind us, and the best and the brightest in the SEO and content marketing space are weighing in on what just happened. They’re also dusting off their crystal balls and making a few predictions about what we should be on the lookout for in 2021. While the early focus for 2020 was spam reduction, the whole global pandemic tipped that on its head, and things went in a different direction. Google was busy putting out other fires, and spam stayed put.

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Tech-Savvy Firms Were Better Prepared for Pandemic

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The pandemic hit all businesses hard, and law firms are no exception. A recent Clio study, however, finds that solo firms faced the most significant financial downturns. Transitioning to working remotely is tough, and solos were more likely to face declines in both incoming cases and lost revenue. Those solo practices with a firmer grasp on relevant technology and content marketing, however, have weathered the storm more ably – and are better positioned to continue prospering. 

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It turns out that 129 Million Calls Can Tell Us a Whole Lot about Inbound Marketing

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In 2005, HubSpot’s founder coined the term “inbound marketing,” and we have never looked back. Just like that, we said goodbye to exhausting cold calls and costly commercials and welcomed the modern approach of obtaining new customers from the online content arena, including blogs, videos, social media, and all that stuff. Inbound marketing speaks to millennials and is a bargain to boot – which means there is little not to embrace.

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Facial Recognition Technology Leads to Wrongful Arrest of Black Man

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According to Reuters, in the first known case of its kind, a Detroit man was wrongfully arrested after facial recognition technology provided a positive match. Robert Williams spent more than a full day in jail after the photo on his driver’s license was erroneously matched – via facial recognition software – to someone who’d been caught shoplifting on a surveillance video. This is the United States’ first known wrongful arrest based on facial recognition technology, which is becoming an increasingly popular investigatory tool for police departments across the nation.

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Supreme Court Extends Title VII Protections to LGBTQ Community

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In the shadows of all that is going on in America today, a landmark decision was made by the country’s highest Court in Bostock v. Clayton CountyTitle VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin illegal. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court of the United States was tasked with ruling on the scope of Title VII and whether its protections extended to employees who are homosexual or transgender, and SCOTUS determined that they did.

The Basis for the Court’s Ruling in Favor of Title VII Homosexual and Transgender Protections

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court sent a strong message that discrimination against homosexual and transgender employees in the workplace constitutes sex and/or gender discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Justice Neil M. Gorsuch crafted the majority opinion for the Court, and Justices Alito, Thomas, and Kavanaugh dissented. Among the votes in favor of this ruling were those of conservative Justice Gorsuch and Justice John G. Roberts Jr. This surprising ruling is a watershed decision for all LGBTQ rights.

During oral arguments, Gorsuch expressed that the words “because of sex” favored the plaintiff’s interpretation of the law, and that discrimination based on LGBTQ status inherently involved an employee’s sex or gender. The June 15, 2020, ruling arose out of three separate cases from the Eleventh, Sixth, and Second U.S. Courts of Appeals. Each of these Courts had cases involving an employee who was fired after their employer learned that they were homosexual or transgender. In all cases, the employee had been employed for quite some time, and there appeared to be no other reason for their termination. The Court determined that in these situations, discrimination as it relates to an employee being homosexual or transgender established discrimination based on “sex” that is protected under Title VII.

Without examining the statute’s legislative history, the Supreme Court determined that under Title VII makes it illegal to discriminate against an employee because they are transgender or homosexual. Employers who terminate or otherwise take adverse action against an employee because they are homosexual or transgender, and would not have done so if the employee was a member of the opposite sex, are now in violation of the law.

The dissenters expressed that the other Justices were modifying the law, not interpreting it. Justice Kavanaugh accused the majority opinion of rewriting history. Justice Alito voiced concern that the effects of this decision will be difficult to predict and extensive. He also said his colleagues did not consider how their ruling would affect housing, religious employers, or sports. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, say this ruling provides a more persuasive argument to provide advocacy, agency, and protection under the law for those who are faced with discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations.

Examples of Title VII Violations

As supporting examples, the Court described the following situations:

An employer has two employees that are both attracted to males. In all other ways, the employees are the same, but one is a man, and one is a woman. The employer decides to fire the male because of his attraction to men but not the woman, even though she is also attracted to men. This employer is accepting of a trait in one employee and not an identical trait in the other employee of the opposite sex.

If an employer fires a transgender employee who identified as a male at birth but now identifies with the female gender, they are also discriminating against the fired employee if the following conditions exist:

  • An identical employee was retained that identified as female at birth
  • The employer intentionally fired the employee who identified as a male at birth  

The employee who was fired was discriminated against for having the same traits or characteristics that the retained employee has. An employment standard must apply across the board when it comes to firing or taking action against employees for whom they are attracted to or what gender they identify with. Otherwise, it is discrimination.

The Supreme Court determined that a statutory violation takes place when an employer would have made a different decision if the employee’s sex or gender were different. Even if the employer cites additional reasons for firing the homosexual or transgender employee, if the plaintiff’s sex was one of them, it is enough to activate the law.

Addressing Arguments Against Title VII Protection for Homosexual and Transgender Employees

Arguments made against the Supreme Court’s ruling included that discrimination on the basis of sex does not occur if all homosexual or transgender men are treated identically to all homosexual and transgender women. Under the same argument, opponents of the ruling highlighted that Title VII deals with discrimination on an individual basis and not a group basis.

To that argument, the decision points out that Title VII’s plain language and previous precedents do not allow an employer to treat men and women identically as a whole gender. Firing all lesbians and transgender employees as well as all gay men under equal standards does not release employers from liability. Instead, it increases their liability.

At the same time, the Court concedes that their decision in this matter probably was not something the Title VII drafters had imagined. However, they believe that the law should not be ignored or overlooked in situations the drafters could not have anticipated. The Court compared this discrimination matter to “an elephant that cannot be hidden in a mouse hole.” Sex discrimination in the workplace is one of the significant pillars in federal civil rights legislation.

The Future of Title VII

The Court was also quick to point out that their ruling in this matter is narrow. Therefore, it does not address or set a precedent for other issues under Title VII that will be addressed in the future. Issues the Court Justices specifically mentioned include:

  • The legality of sex-segregated bathrooms or locker rooms
  • Whether dress codes based on gender are legal
  • The viability of any potential religious liberty defenses under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA)

What Actions Do Employers Need to Take Now?

Employers should take care to update employee handbooks and other employment-related policies and publications. These updates need to include applicable non-discrimination policies that extend to and ensure the protection LGBTQ employees or applicants.

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