I Got Kicked Out Of A Marketing “Bootcamp” For Lawyers – My Experience With Grifters

andrew stickel bill hauser emily hauser smb team scam grifters

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I think I might be allergic to bullshit. Whenever I hear people hyping things up or really going out of their way to expend energy on getting other people hyped up for the purpose of engagement and interaction, my body naturally starts to reject it.

This rejection, it’s a physical feeling that begins low in my gut. Depending on the frequency and the intensity of the bullshit, this feeling will either slowly or quickly rise up from my gut to my chest and into my throat. Which then usually results in a vocalization of this feeling from me or some sort of involuntary expression (like this blog post, lol).

I bring this up because I just had an experience where the bullshit was so thick and so intense, and the frequency of it was so unbearable, that I couldn’t help but reflexively reject it.

A little bit of a caveat: I don’t believe getting people excited about something of substance or value is necessarily a bad thing. People have an innate need to be inspired, especially when it comes to their livelihood, how they live, how they provide for themselves and their loved ones. There is inspiration to be found and that inspiration is to be highly valued if it brings about the result you want, I’m not denying that at all. Everybody is different and will react to different stimuli to move them to action.

LIVE NOW! Fire Up Your Firm Virtual Bootcamp

This past Tuesday morning, I settled into my office chair with a nice warm cup of dark roast coffee in my hands, fully ready to learn and participate in a 6 hour online boot camp (the first of three days on a busy work week). This online boot camp was run by a person named Bill Hauser and his partner, Andrew Stickel. Both gentlemen claim to be the answer on how lawyers and law firms can generate leads online and convert them into clients. They promise success by offering tips, hacks and most importantly, mindset! The latter of which they spend the entire first day of this “bootcamp” doing.

Furthering their nebulous, vague messaging of promised successes for your law business, they claim that they have the “keys to transform your law practice” from shit to shining star, by going from a small amount of money made (per year? Per month? They never really specify…) to a very large amount of money made (the exact example of this specific hype was: “go from 100,000 to 4 Million!”)

I logged on promptly at 11:00 a.m. to the zoom meeting for the marketing bootcamp provided by the SMB team. I saw that there were about 342 participants in the meeting. Of that number, five to seven people were part of the SMB team, doing their part to hype up the audience, to elicit mindless engagement…but most importantly to them, police the chat so as to eliminate any critical truth-seeking detractors from the hype machine.

The first speaker came on and prepped the audience for about 12 minutes. He was dressed in a well-form fitting light blue suit and matching tie, with round eye-glasses on his face, lending him the look of an academic, standing on a stage in front of a curved screen displaying all of the participants of the bootcamp.

For 12 minutes this gentleman danced about the stage in large, grand gestures, grooming his audience to react overtly and positively with all they were saying and presenting (hit 1 in the comments if you agree! lol), engaging interaction from them in the chat screen, pretty much eliciting mindless engagement from their audience.

Bill Houser of the SMB Team

After about 15 minutes of Non-Stop jumping around the stage making large gestures and communicating in a sensational manner that would leave even the best of snake-oil salesman admiring from the sidelines, this gentleman’s performance was thankfully over as he finally handed off to one of the main speakers of this so-called boot camp which was Bill Houser.

Finally! This is the main guy that we all signed up to see and to hear! To learn from his wisdom and his strategies, hacks or whatever else he has to help with Lawyer and Law Firm client lead generation…because at the end of the day that’s what this is all about right? Showing how to generate online leads and converting them into paying clients for lawyers and law firms.

Unfortunately Bill did not provide any actionable strategies or tactics in the first few precious minutes that he had with us, his audience. Instead, he continued to hype and groom the audience.

I glanced over to the chat window to see how people were responding to what the speaker was saying. One of the things that struck me as strange? There were a lot of the same positive messages and comments from a lot of different people – literally the same comments over and over! – and it gave the impression that these were mindless drones that were commenting in the comments section.

I got the sneaking suspicion that zoom chatbots were also logged into the zoom meeting to hype up the audience members and positively respond to the speaker. From the look of it, there were a lot of chat bots.

Looking a little bit further into the comment section I noticed that I wasn’t the only one who was getting annoyed at having their time wasted by participating in this event. One lawyer who was participating in this event started to speak up about how nothing of substance or value had been shared within the first 25 minutes of this presentation.

“It’s been 25 minutes of nothing! That’s 200 dollars of wasted time to me!”

While 25 minutes may not seem long to the general lay public, time is very much money to any lawyer worth their salt or worth their degree and their admission to the bar.

In fact, one of the lawyers in the comments section did complain about how nothing of substance or value had been shared within the last 25 minutes; the lawyer felt like this was a complete waste of time.

He said he would have made $200 in that time period had he been dealing with a client on a busy Tuesday workday afternoon.

I agreed!

So I started to “like” and “heart” his comments because I felt he was being exactly right, this bootcamp was a complete waste of time for any lawyer who valued their time.

“Your Zoom Call has Ended”

Not long after I reacted to this lawyer’s annoyance at wasting his time on this bootcamp in the chat, the Zoom meeting unceremoniously ended for me; they had kicked me out of their grooming and hype session!! And for what?? For liking a comment that somebody else made?? Wow.

I felt betrayed and rejected…for about half a second.

After the initial shock of being kicked out wore off, I felt completely justified in my assessment of the lack of seriousness and efficacy of this marketing group.

What really astounded me was that the audience of this bootcamp consisted of all lawyers and legal professionals, people who I automatically assume have over a period of time trained a critical mindset that allows them to see past BS like this.

However, I suppose the assumption is my fault. Because at the end of the day lawyers are human beings who have the same wants, needs and desires as any other human being. So can I blame them when a polished grifter promises them a better lifestyle, a transformation of their business for the positive? Going from very little money to millions of dollars? No, I can’t fault any human for wanting to believe that. It would be hard not to want to believe that. But once again this audience consists of lawyers, so there is a reasonable expectation they will have a critical mindset when being sold some information. However, I still felt empathy for them.

Which is why I was also motivated – nay compelled!! – to share this experience with my audience and to warn them of the dangers and pitfalls of falling for sensationalism and hype when it comes to things that require consistent effort, diligence, discipline, creativity, and persistence in order to succeed.

Bill Hauser & Andrew Stickel – Confidence Men?

A little bit of background and research on Bill and Andrew: they spend quite a lot of money on social media advertising, targeting lawyers with their hyped up, sensational messaging and retargeting those very same lawyers who happened to click on their social media ads. All for the express purpose of getting them to sign up for their offerings, such as a “free” (“just pay for the shipping and handling…not satisfied? Full refund and keep the book while we retain your data and mailing address!”) book on social media marketing called the “5 Star Lawyer”, or some such nonsense.

My favorite “free” offerings from these two are the “Top 50 Law Firm Marketing Hacks.” Wow! 50 hacks!! For free!!!! Who doesn’t love free?!?!

The reality is that this one sheet PDF with 50 lines of “hacks” included the following gems:

  • “You don’t need to be perfect”
    • My Response: If you are charging people for your legal services, services that affect your clients’ daily lives and freedoms, you’d better strive to be perfect or near perfect. Nobody wants to pay you for your mediocre legal services! It could be the difference between jail and freedom!
  • “film a video everyday”
    • My Response: Ok…? About what??
  • “Use Creative Ways to reach your target audience”
    • My Response: Can you be any more vague?

Imagine 47 more useless “hacks” on one pdf page. Complete waste of time!!

Back at the “bootcamp, my critical thinking kicked into high gear. Here are the thoughts that ran through my mind: “So, what exactly is this team selling with so much positivity and energy? Coaches? So they are leaving the actual digital marketing work to the lawyers…? They are “educating” lawyers on what they can do to increase their law firm revenue…? Yet do not actually do any work for the lawyers they are working with…? Ahh, the grift is becoming ever more clear…it’s the Gary Vaynerchuk positivity grift, it’s the Tony Robbins positivity grift, it’s the, “get our coaches so you can succeed!” Only they are targeting a very specific audience, lawyers.”

Why This Is Important For Me & ClearBox

Digital Marketing for Lawyers is a passion for me because I’ve seen first-hand the positive difference a lawyer can make in the lives of their clients.

Besides helping the lawyers who work with me get clients through digital marketing across general practice areas such as Criminal Law, Family Law, Immigration and Personal Injury, I’ve helped thousands of victims of sex abuse and sex assault find the fierce legal advocacy they need.

Reaching hard-to-find victims of the Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandal, Boy Scouts of America Sex abuse claims, Jeffrey Epstein sex abuse claims, Bill Cosby’s sex assault victims, Harvey Weinstein’s sex abuse victims, as well as Larry Nassar and Michigan State University sex abuse victims, it brings me a massive amount of satisfaction that I helped bring about some level of justice and closure to those who have been so wrongfully victimized and hurt.

That same attitude also applies to how we at ClearBox care about each and every one of our lawyers and legal professionals that we work with. No BS or grift. Just straight talk and results.

Moral of the story? I wasted nearly 30 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back so that you will never have to. Great lawyers and legal advocates of the US and Canada, please beware the grift.

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