By Steve Ross

Michael Gardiner gave a presentation about his new business venture, Aliunde. Aliunde is a website for law firms to bid on client projects. He described the problems and strategies involved in keeping his legal practice going simultaneously.

Building the website turned out to be more painful than he expected. He used a web development firm from India, and it took twice as long as he expected. The firm did not give any feedback about the website he wanted to develop, which he expected and what an American company would do. The web developer took his instructions literally. Michael described late night telephone conversations with the developer where he had to explain to the developer that the instruction underline meant underlining a word, not writing the word underline.

The clients are businesses with a range of projects:
Small – involving little time;
Mid-sized – which are important and have significant costs; and
Large – such as complex litigation, and corporate transactions.

Aliunde allows businesses to find lawyers who are good and efficient. Efficiency involves attorneys with a particular expertise or knowledge of their type of business.

The businesses describe legal projects on the website and attorneys make non-binding bids. It is template driven. Aliunde has signed up several users.

Michael is considering bringing on a business development co-founder or a technical co-founder.
Despite the unanticipated glitches Aliunde has encountered, it has one large client, and hopes to expand its business to business operations.


The main speaker was Melissa Ryzy, who spoke about marketing for lawyers.
Ms. Ryzy discussed effective branding. She showed us pictures of products such as Band-Aids, Kleenex, IPad, and Post-It notes where most people think of a specific brand when they think of the product. These products have TOMA – Top of Mind Awareness.

Then, Ms. Ryzy discussed USP – Unique Selling Proposition. Each lawyer has a unique character that makes them memorable. She noted that Annette Pinhasik is unique because she is a female personal injury attorney. She brings a woman’s compassion and understanding to an area of the law which is dominated by attorneys the public perceives to be aggressive, brusque, ambulance-chasers.

Branding has three basic parts:
Identity – Who you are;
Image – What you are; and
Mind Equity – What makes you memorable?

Ms. Ryzy tried to compress a 90 minute program into a 30 minute presentation. She also gave everyone an 11-page color handout describing effective branding, and agreed to meet with everyone for 30 minutes. Personally, I can’t wait for my meeting!
Steve Ross is a sole practitioner in Chicago.
He can be contacted at and 312/566-4170
His practice emphasizes appellate law, civil litigation, collections, landlord/tenant law, and juvenile law.

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