Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court made history when it declared the “Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)” unconstitutional, mandating that same-sex couples who are legally married receive federal protections like health insurance, veterans’ benefits, Social Security and retirement savings.
This decision will affect thousands of couples across the United States and, depending on your area of law, may have a significant impact on your law practice and marketing strategies.
DOMA and Immigration Attorneys
In the wake of this landmark decision, the federal government will now recognize same-sex marriages as a basis for visas. The Obama Administration has moved quickly to address these new visa policies and just several days after the ruling, the USCIS began issuing notices of approval of a permanent visa to foreign spouses in same sex marriages.
It’s expected that this change will have a major impact on immigration in the United States, affecting approximately 36,000 same sex couples in the United States. Immigration attorneys around the county have already seen a surge in new clients hoping to acquire permanent residence status or citizenship through marriage. If you practice immigration law, the DOMA ruling presents a great opportunity for your firm to reach a new clientele in your community.
DOMA and Estate Planning Law Firms
With same sex couples now receiving the same federal protections and benefits afforded to heterosexual couples, estate tax and gift planning is of critical importance for millions of gay Americans. If your firm provides estate planning services to the community, this major shift will likely create an influx of business as those affected by the recent SCOTUS decision must make changes to their estate plans and implement new strategies to protect their loved ones.
To help millions of Americans embrace the new benefits and meet the challenges created by this recent decision, it’s vitally important that you become a resource in your community and increase visibility so those who require your assistance can easily find your firm and learn from your expertise. Consider the following strategies to maximize exposure:
Educate with an E-Blast
With the intense media coverage and grand celebrations in cities around the country, most of your clients, colleagues and referral sources have heard about the recent DOMA decision but few fully understand the various implications and strategies which need to be implemented in the wake of the ruling. Make it a point to educate your contacts and provide them with insight into how this decision will impact their lives.
One of the most efficient ways to reach and inform your contacts is through an e-newsletter which, with the right software, allows you to reach thousands in a matter of minutes. In the days ahead, consider sending out an e-blast outlining the changes resulting from the DOMA decision and what you specifically can do to help your clients address the challenges of the new law.
Engage with Your Website
The very first question you should ask yourself when developing new marketing collateral is who am I trying to reach with this piece? With the recent DOMA decision, you may find that your previous answer to that question for your website, firm brochures and even your intake forms is no longer sufficient. In the weeks ahead, take time to refocus your efforts and revamp your firm’s website to provide resources to those impacted. You might consider offering free consultations for a client who are interested in a new estate plan or obtaining a Green Card for a foreign spouse.
If you are looking to drum up a great deal of new business in the wake of the SCOTUS decision and be seen as an expert in your community, you should consider developing a site that specifically addresses the concerns of same-sex couples. With a very focused site, you can more effectively speak to the unique needs of same sex couples and will likely rank better with the major search engines (provided you implement some SEO basics).
Establish Credibility in Your Community
While technology allows your firm to reach a large number of prospective clients in your area, it cannot replace face to face networking. If possible, consider holding informational seminars in your community where you can educate individuals on the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision and actions which should be taken in the wake of the DOMA ruling. If you provide value and knowledge to the attendees, it’s likely that some will contact you when they decide to take legal action.
As you undertake any advertising, it’s important to remember that the benefit of any campaign is twofold – to assist the public in obtaining legal services and make your firm’s services known. By providing information on the DOMA ruling, you are doing just that.