On the internet, the facts and final outcomes of an issue aren’t always part of the story that rises to the top. It’s easy for anyone to write anything about anyone they want, and there’s not a lot anyone else can do about it.
If a competitor has the time, money, and energy to dump into it, they can boost their version of the story pretty easily. And, if they have a big enough following, their version of the story can grow to the point that it overshadows the facts.
It makes it easy to tarnish someone’s reputation—or, in some situations, even impact someone else’s business!
This kind of low-blow, competitive stuff can be tough on law firms that choose to take a higher road with their marketing and web presence. And, sadly, it can be difficult to correct the facts once something has been published online.
Bill Voss—one of the top commercial insurance attorneys in the nation and founder of The Voss Law Firm—is no stranger to these kinds of strategies from competitors. While he recognizes the difficulty of seeing a nasty article or attack ad aimed at you or your business, his advice to other lawyers in the same situation is as simple as it comes:
You just need to do better than the folks that want to knock you down.
What’s the Deal With the Fraud Allegations Against The Voss Law Firm?
Merlin Law Group, one of Bill Voss’ longtime competitors, chose to post an article on its website that follows the recipe for what’s called a “hit piece.”
You’ve probably run into this kind of thing before, maybe on social media or during particularly heated election seasons. For a little background, a “hit piece” is any kind of published article or post that misrepresents facts or gives false information with the intention of swaying public opinion about a person, company, or other entity. These pieces are typically presented as true, trustworthy, and objective. However, they typically misrepresent or omit important facts to present a biased opinion.
In the Merlin article about Voss, the author claims that The Voss Law Firm engaged in litigation misconduct. It then decries litigation misconduct in the industry and the negative impact it has on policyholders and policyholder attorneys.
So, why is this article a “hit piece?” The problem is that this article tells half the story before the resolution. The final result of the issue in question was ultimately positive for The Voss Law Firm. However, Merlin did not reach out to Voss for comment or his side of the story, and he has yet to take any action to supplement his disparaging article about Voss. Merlin even refuses to mention the final outcome!
In the article, it seems like Merlin’s version of the story contains all the facts you need. The author lays out some incomplete information and tries to get you outraged about abuses in the industry. It’s an easy way to make someone else look bad, and it’s easy to think that doing so will line your pockets in the end.
Ultimately, though, it’s a sad strategy to resort to, and it doesn’t always work out well for folks that choose to take that road.
Low Blows When Top Attorneys Compete
Here’s how crazy this kind of dirty game can be: at least two other law firms have published the following about Merlin Law Group:
You can even read the same story on Ripoff Report.
Reading through those linked articles, it appears that the person who was so angry about the allegations against The Voss Law Firm is the same person who faced a $400k attorney fee sanction for lying to a court.
Do you feel differently about Merlin’s apparent outrage over lesser allegations after finding out that he faced sanctions for allegedly lying to a court? Do you trust the sources of that information? Are you getting the whole story?
It’s confusing. It can even be scary. And, if you’ve ever been tempted to fire off a nasty blog post about one of your competitors, it is probably a decent warning to skip playing that game altogether.
“It’s not uncommon for lawyers to be attacked by competitors or defendants at some point in their careers,” Voss tells us. “On the first day of law school, they tell you that there are two sides to every story. You have to wait for the final resolution after all the facts are presented and hashed out. Then you can speak up and tell the world. This is a lawyering-101, first-year mistake.”
As far as the article published by Merlin Law Group goes, Voss is unconcerned. “[Chip Merlin] is one of my competitors at the national level,” Voss says. “So, you have two top lawyers competing for business. You hit below the belt because you think it will gain you an advantage in the marketplace. But—you know that old saying?—when you point the finger at someone, there are always three pointing back.”
It's also important to note that, in the end, the Merlin article has had no impact on Voss’ ongoing success. In fact, despite the attempts from the competition, The Voss Law Firm is doing better than ever.
Let Your Positive Actions Speak for Themselves
As the COVID-19 crisis began earlier this year, The Voss Law Firm “pivoted,” putting their focus more on commercial insurance claims. They’ve been receiving calls from all over the nation about COVID-19 and business interruption. And, with unrest still unfolding in the wake of the George Floyd protests, they’ve also been busy addressing questions about looting, vandalism, and business interruption, especially from small businesses that are heavily impacted.
And, while the main focus is on commercial claims right now, Voss reports that they’ve remained steadfast in their other core areas of practice, as well.
“We’re continuing to represent amazing folks and high-profile clients,” Voss tells us. He even recently published a new book, COVID-19 and Business Interruption Losses, that helps business owners navigate these trying times—just click the link if you want to download a copy!
“A lot of lawyers right now are getting calls about COVID-19 and business insurance,” Voss says. “There are cases being filed by lawyers that don’t specialize in it, and that can be dangerous, in my opinion. Clients put all the confidence in the world in the lawyers they choose!”
Concerned about your own business in 2020? Use your insurance. Get a lawyer to fight for you, and choose to take the high road with your marketing. Of course, you are also always welcome to reach out to Bill Voss and The Voss Law Firm with referrals or questions related to business interruption.
However, if you’re here because you’re worried about a negative attack from a competitor, just know that it isn’t the end of the world. If you’re already doing well, there’s a good chance that the low blows from the competition will roll right off your back. In the meantime, it’s all about drowning out that one negative voice online by getting back to your core basics, focusing on your clients, and letting your positive actions speak for themselves.
“Our North Star is our clients,” Bill says. “That’s all we care about. We don’t care about the competition and their name-calling. We are focused on positive outcomes.”
Questions? Contact The Voss Law Firm or call (281) 842-8679.
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