It’s been just five years since a family-run business became Canada’s fastest growing Personal Injury firm.
Just one office in 2013, Diamond and Diamond now boasts 13 more offices across Canada (including Vancouver). A 2015 Leger survey showed that only 3% of responders could name one of their competitors.
Diamond’s brand of tough advocacy is contagious. Large insurance companies are known to enlist the services of high-powered counsel in order to limit the amount of money a plaintiff can ask for.
Canada’s Tort claims are historically also much smaller than the United States. The Supreme Court caps pain and suffering at less than $400,000, meaning such an amount is typically reserved for those with the greatest pain and suffering.
Most injury lawyers operate on a contingency basis, meaning they don’t earn their fees until they settle. As such, they must bankroll all costs of the claim before it settles years from now. In addition to being a cash flow nightmare for accountants, Personal Injury Law comes with a great deal of risk for a firm. Many have simply closed up shop citing low capital and high competition.
Over 30 years ago, David Diamond founded Diamond and Diamond. It was at a time when personal injury advertising was next to non-existent.
5 years ago, his nephew Jeremy Diamond, wife Sandra Zisckind and brother-in-law Isaac Zisckind became part owners in Diamond and Diamond and took it in an entirely different direction. They sought to expand and service most claims in-house as opposed to relying on outside counsels to handle overflow.
Their timing was impeccable. At the time personal Injury advertising was starting to become ubiquitous and big firms enlisted the services of media buyers and consultants to communicate their value proposition.
Diamond and his wife sought advice from the kingpin, travelling across the border to meet with arguably the country’s most well-known Personal Injury Firm, Celino and Barnes.
Within a few months, they were off and running.
The firm started with one radio station in Toronto, z1035. It was a relatively small buy, compared to their advertising spend today, but it was high frequency.
Their message of tough advocacy rained across all of their ads. Jeremy Diamond spoke personally to connect with the audiences, which was unusual in a space that lacked the public’s trust.
Their slogan “Nothing is tougher than a Diamond” also spoke to the general public’s exhaustion with the squeeze from insurance companies.
Several firms jumped into the ring to try and earn their slice of the pie but efforts were mixed. Many lacked a central message or effective creative. As many lost their footing a few major players emerged in front, one being Diamond.
“We learned early on that people want a firm who speaks to them and not above them,” said Jeremy Diamond, the firm’s managing partner. “We give out our personal cell phone. We’re a family owned firm and it’s important that every client feels that we are a part of theirs.”
Once the radio ads stuck, they sought to expand their marketing mix.
The firm hired a firm specializing specifically in pay per click advertising. Personal Injury holds some of the most expensive keywords on Google’s platform, with some clicks fetching upwords of $130.
“It was vicious in the beginning,” said Isaac Zisckind. “We found out that competitors had been clicking our ads to drain our budget. We vowed to stay above the fray and focus on running our own race.”
Once the firm found their footing on pay per click advertising, they branched out to dominate Google’s organic search results through SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Their high search visibility allowed them to harness a large percentage of the thousands of searches that take place per month in the space of Personal Injury Law. It was in essence, the perfect compliment to a sound Adwords strategy.
Since their inception, the firm has worked with Signature Gold, a video production and graphic design firm based in Toronto.
“We looked at a lot of the players who were competing with us and it was obvious that they were doing their creative in house,” said Diamond. “Anyone can buy ads, but few can make them stick in the mind of the consumer.”
Marketing theory shows that only a couple companies can earn that coveted top of mind spot in the mind of consumers. In an industry in which dozens of players battle for top of mind, meticulous attention to messaging is essential.
“We kept it simple,” said Greg Dean, Signature Gold’s Owner. “We kept it personal. The person in the ad should be the person you see when you enter the firm.”
Major TV Ads for the firm even ran prime-time during sporting events and shows like The Bachelor.
“We kept ads clean and A/B tested with unique URLs and/or phone numbers,” said Zisckind. “Eventually you learn what works and can stick with that but it only comes from rigorous testing.”
As the work piled up, the public accolades followed. The firm pocketed nearly a dozen readers choice awards and three consumers choice awards. Major media outlets such as CTV and City News called on Sandra Zisckind to comment on legal matters and the media hits were a boon for the firm.
In April of 2014, the firm made headlines when they sued a Toronto-based university for $20.5 million after a shooting took place in their food court.
“We are alleging a pattern of negligence, we’re alleging that security has been overlooked and our allegation is that steps could have been taken and measures could have been taken,” Sandra Zisckind of Diamond and Diamond said at a televised press conference.
In the years that followed several other high profile cases by the firm made headlines.
After a teen died from Skateboarding without a helmet, the firm called on the province to expand helmet requirement laws.
When an UberX driver in Toronto got into a motor vehicle accident and was denied coverage by his insurer, Isaac Zisckind took legal action against the company. The case, one of the first to showcase’s Uber’s questionable insurance policies, made international headlines. It also prompted insurers to create new products for drivers.
The ad buy of the firm has expanded to sponsorship of major sporting franchises such as The Toronto Raptors, The Toronto Maple Leafs and The Ottawa Senators. The alignment has provided immeasurable value for the firm, whose demo includes sports enthusiasts across the nation.
“They were my first client when I started my agency,” said Jordan Whelan, who handles the firm’s media buying. “In many ways they are an ideal client in that they are confident enough to speak up when they have an aversion to something, but smart enough to know when to listen and defer to experts.”
With everything clicking, the firm sought to shake their old reputation as a referral based agency.
“Every firm refers out cases,” says Sandra Zisckind, lawyer at Diamond and Diamond. “We try to keep as much as we can in house but sometimes we are not the best suited party for a claim.”
As Zisckind sought to keep more cases she went on a hiring tear, growing their team of lawyers by 15 in just a couple years. The team also enlisted the help of dozens of administrative and paralegal staff to handle the heavy flow of leads into the firm.
But a peculiar thing was happening in the face of the thousands of personal injury cases the firm had carriage over. Their current client base began inquiring about addition legal services, like wills and estates, real estate or even family law.
So in 2017, after careful consideration, the firm took a leap, expanding to a full service law firm in a 30,000 square foot facility in North Toronto.
“It’s a natural progression,” said Diamond. “We learned through focus group testing that consumers were intimidated by big bay street firms with large upfront retainers.”
Their name was changed to Diamond and Diamond
Lawyers and the slogan “The People’s Law Firm” was trademarked.
Services were listed at a flat fee including real estate closing or uncontested divorces.
“The old business model of firms was not working, “ said Zisckind. “Consumers want transparency, and approachability.”
In 2018, the firm has plans to open three new offices across the country and expand their service offering. They recently signed a deal with NHL team, The Calgary Flames.
While the firm experiences growing pains, Diamond says he hopes they never lose sight of why they got into this business in the first place.
“Our bread and butter will always be personal injury,” says Diamond. “We want injured Plaintiffs to know they’re taken care of, that we will never stop fighting for them.”
“That’s the legacy we fight for.”