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PHILADELPHIA � Some are meant to be funny, others informative, and a few have put firms in hot water. Videos have been popping up on firm Web sites, but at least one analyst warned that law firms might be paying too much for too little. Over the summer, Drinker Biddle & Reath posted a video on its career page, Fox Rothschild celebrated its 100th anniversary with a video on its homepage, and Morgan Lewis & Bockius put a 10-minute introduction on its homepage and another video on its pro bono page. “It’s not the wave of the future, it’s the wave of the present,” Drinker Biddle hiring partner Audrey Talley said of Web site videos. When Drinker Biddle started planning its site redesign two years ago, a video on the recruiting page was slated as part two of the makeover, she said. The three-minute video, which has interviews with associates and partners, covers the process of being recruited, to starting as an associate to business development, Talley said. The firm wanted to get honesty and sincerity across to potential law student and lateral recruits, and she said that is tough to do in the written word. Using video is part of a larger issue of firms needing to reach the current generation in ways to which they are accustomed, she said. “This is the iPod, i-everything, Internet, electronic generation,” Talley said. Micah Buchdahl of HTMLawyers said a lot of firms are moving toward video and most are putting it on recruiting pages. Most recruits, however, aren’t that interested in watching the video, he said. When Buchdahl has done internal audits of firm Web sites, the first-years never mention the Web site as a reason they came on board, he said. “They’re still more of a cool thing to say you have than something that’s getting use,” he said. Buchdahl tells his clients that they are better off being forthcoming with details on their Web sites than creating a video touting firm culture. “I’d rather know my gym membership is free,” Buchdahl said of what recruits are looking for. Better yet, he said, a firm could take the money it spends on a video, and make the gym memberships free. Although videos might not get the most bang for their buck, Buchdahl said there can be ways to make them useful. Firms that are seminar-driven, such as labor and employment boutiques, may want to tape their seminars and put them on a Web site such as YouTube, he said. It can be a lot less expensive, but more informative to the client. Buchdahl suggests that his smaller-firm clients do this. The videos could also just be a few-minute rundown on what to do if a client gets a DUI or had a personal injury suit. While Web casts are nice to put on a site, Buchdahl said it isn’t likely that a general counsel would sit and watch a 90-minute video on mergers and acquisitions. He said firms are more likely to get people to effectively listen to a two-minute podcast than a 60-minute video. There are some other downfalls to posting seminars to a mass audience. Pittsburgh-based immigration firm Cohen & Grigsby saw a bit of a media backlash when a video on its site was posted on YouTube. The seminar was viewed as a tutorial on how to hire foreign workers as opposed to U.S. citizens. The other dilemma with posting seminars is that the people who paid to go might get upset when the video is posted for free on the Web. To avoid that problem, firms can delay posting the video or just send links to select clients, Buchdahl said. BUDGETING FOR VIDEOS Jim Staples, the chief marketing officer for Fox Rothschild, has worked in other professional services and consumer products arenas before. And he worked on videos for each of those employers. Putting together a video means bringing in a large crew to at least one office if not more, and flying in attorneys from several of the firm’s offices, he said. The average cost, he said, should probably be around $25,000 to $30,000. “It doesn’t have to be $100,000, but it can’t be $5,000,” Staples said. Video production can range from a camcorder and tripod to a multiperson team with post-production editing, Buchdahl said. One of his clients wanted a famous narrator to read the script with their video, so the firm shelled out $30,000. Buchdahl got a call from a vendor for another client that offered a videographer who worked on the set of “Titantic.” “Like we need Oscar-winning,” Buchdahl said. Oscar-worthy or not, he said the cost of these videos can be anywhere from $0 to $100,000. If large firms are already spending millions on information technology and events, then it may make sense to invest part of that budget on a video, Buchdahl said. “I just don’t want it to be a break-the-bank component,” he said. WHAT’S THE PURPOSE? Videos on large-firm sites are often for branding or recruiting purposes and are sometimes used in accordance with diversity or pro bono efforts, Buchdahl said. Even if the video is a taping of a seminar for YouTube, he said firms need to make it as polished as possible. “If you’re a large corporate firm and you’re going to stick it on your homepage, it better be polished,” he said. Videos on the main page are often “cute branding tools” that are part of an overall brand awareness, but they aren’t bringing in business, Buchdahl said. There’s “no reason for anybody to ever click on it,” he said. When putting together its video, Fox Rothschild wanted to celebrate its anniversary but didn’t want to give a history lesson, Staples said. The theme of the video is “how does the past inform the future.” Since Fox Rothschild invested in the video, it wanted to get more use out of it than just posting in on its homepage. Staples said DVDs were created for attorneys to give to clients as leave-behinds. On the jackets of the DVDs were a few business development tips for the attorneys. The firm worked with the advertising arm of its outside PR agency, StarRosen Public Relations, to come up with a script and help with production. The overall process took about three to four months, he said, all for three to four minutes of video. The length of the video is also very important, with three to five minutes being the maximum amount of time a firm should target, Staples said. “You have to keep it short,” he said. “Ten minutes, that’s just too long.” Morgan Lewis Personnel Partner Michele Martin said timing was definitely a concern when creating two eight-minute videos for the firm. The original goal, she said, was about five to six minutes, but with over 100 hours of footage for just one video, the firm had a lot to work with. While Staples wants to keep the length short, he wants to expand the use of videos on the firm’s site. He said law firms are moving toward video for recruiting purposes, and Fox Rothschild needs to do more in that regard. While it might not be in the immediate future, Staples said the firm could look to attach videos to attorney biographies. That is something The Beasley Firm has done for years. Viewers are greeted by an introductory video from Jim Beasley Jr. He can also be seen on other videos, describing what each practice area means. Some of the firm’s attorneys describe their practices on the biography pages. Martin said the purpose of Morgan Lewis’ videos evolved along with the production process. Chairman Francis Milone initially wanted a welcome video that would explain to new hires, both legal and nonlegal, what the firm was like. The goal was to get them excited about working for the firm, Martin said. Over the six-month process of creating the video, it became apparent that the target audience could expand to include recruits. The pro bono video had always been intended for an external audience. As the firm’s pro bono work became more structured, a video seemed like a good way to highlight the firm’s efforts to potential pro bono clients and attorneys, Martin said. Gina Passarella is a reporter with The Legal Intelligencer, a Recorder affiliate based in Philadelphia.

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