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Carlson Uses Innovative Multi-media 2/27/15  03/10/15 11:00:05 PM Printer Friendly VersionPrinter Friendly Version

Darren Carlson’s approach to life is best exemplified in things like the whimsical photo above, which he chose for his book, Your 1960’s TV Guide to Estate Planning.
Carlson Uses Innovative Multi-media
Approach to Market His Law Firm

By John Benson
Legal Writer
The Daily Record

After over two decades practicing in traditional Omaha law firm settings, Darren Carlson wanted to create a firm which would allow him to implement the management and marketing strategies he had begun to champion, while allowing him the time to pursue the many non-legal endeavors which he so relished.
With those goals in mind, Carlson teamed up with Anne Burnett in 2008 and founded the law firm of Carlson & Burnett.
Since its inception, Carlson & Burnett has grown to include 11 attorneys and two law clerks. The firm has positioned itself as a full-service family law firm with multiple practice groups, all of which relate to the family unit.

The firm’s website boasts, “At Carlson & Burnett, our lawyers believe that devotion to family is everything.”
From traditional family law areas such as divorce and custody, to personal injury and estate planning, the firm prides itself on being able to handle any legal issue a family may have.
“As I described our firm’s practice, it was apparent that we had specialties that dealt exclusively with families,” Carlson said. “The foundation was estate planning. However, the estate planning practice naturally leads to divorce and personal injury. We have since added workers compensation and employment discrimination. Any legal issues impacting the family, we handle.”
While working to shape the firm’s mission and business model, Carlson has also been the driving force behind the firm’s innovative and aggressive marketing strategy.

Although one can hardly be blamed for characterizing attorneys in some legal advertisements as cartoons, in the case of Carlson & Burnett, the comparison is quite literal.  
Commissioned from local advertising agency Webster Design, the firm’s television and online advertising utilizes cartoon avatars to represent its attorneys.
 “We do not want to market as your parents’ stuffy old intimidating law firm,” Carlson said. “Rather, we want to convey two distinct messages: we are not your typical law firm, and we are actually rather casual and fun attorneys.”
In addition to making an effort to utilize traditional advertising media in creative and unique ways, Carlson said the firm also enlists the services of a computer science professional – to the tune of 20 hours per week – to maximize the firm’s social media presence.  
The firm maintains active accounts on both Facebook and Twitter, which it uses to publish firm news and accomplishments, while adding insight and oftentimes levity to law-related current events. The firm’s website also hosts its “Omaha Family Law Blog,” on which the firm’s attorneys take turns commenting on legal issues and key questions in their area of expertise.   
“There was a time when being listed in the Yellow Pages was considered marketing. Those days are gone. To attract new clients, a new firm must utilize many different methods of marketing – social media, print, radio, TV, service on charitable boards, networking groups, etc.” he said.
For his part, Carlson might bring as much notoriety to the firm with his non-legal exploits as his legal acumen. While his role as a trusted estate planning and transactional attorney is one he is proud of, you are just as likely to run into Darren Carlson the author or radio personality.   
During his latest round of reviewing and updating the firm’s estate planning materials, Carlson thought there must be a better way to help his clients understand the oft-confusing and cumbersome business of estate planning.
By drawing on his vast knowledge of 1960’s pop culture, Carlson penned the recently published, Your 1960’s TV Guide to Estate Planning, a crash course on all things estate planning.  
Carlson’s ingenious approach takes fictional families from many of our favorite 1960’s television sitcoms and puts them in common estate and probate situations, then explains the legal issues facing the families. Through discussing Ward Cleaver’s will and Archie and Edith Bunker’s spendthrift trust, to name a few, Carlson informs the reader about complex legal issues without boring them.   
“I was actually surprised at the pleasant feedback from individuals who have called to express their delight that a fun and informative estate planning resource was finally available,” Carlson said.
On the heels of his book’s publication, Carlson decided to wade into the world of talk radio. In January, Carlson began co-hosting a weekly AM radio show on Omaha’s 1290 KOIL.
“It’s Saturday Morning,” airing Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., features Carlson as the show’s Arts and Charities expert, sandwiched between the show’s Food and Spirits segment, hosted by Omaha restaurant maven Rich Barmettler, and the Sports and Entertainment segment, headlined by fellow Carlson & Burnett attorney and NFL referee, Clete Blakeman.
“I think Clete and I both felt that a radio show featuring what’s happening for the weekend in the metro would be fun to produce,” Carlson said. “Although the radio show does not discuss law, it is a nice venue to increase name recognition without having to talk ‘law shop’.”
One other thing – you notice it when you view his cartoon avatar – Carlson wears an eye patch. He jokes about being mistaken for a pirate, and he marvels at how easily people remember his face. It is the face of someone who not only survived, but thrived after a life-threatening, disfiguring bout of cancer in 2007. Spend a couple minutes talking to him, and you forget all about that patch and those scars. He’s so much more than that.
In addition to practicing law, hosting a radio show and writing a book, the Creighton law school graduate also makes time for activities, including travel, with his wife of 26 years and his two children, Alex, 21, and Hannah, 16. He has served on civic and charitable boards, including the Millard Schools Education Foundation. As his website says, “devotion to family is everything.”
From the look of things, Carlson and the firm have leveraged their talents and unique approach into a burgeoning enterprise. Carlson & Burnett is in the process of completing construction on a new state-of-the-art office space near 175th and Arbor Streets, which they hope to be settled into by this summer. Visit www.carlsonburnett.com for more information.
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