August 2011Volume 99Number 8Page 380

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President’s Page

QR and the Illinois Bar

You've seen QR codes - now find out what they are and how you can use them to promote your practice.

Do you know what this symbol is? I thought it was a Rorschach test. My guess was an inkblot of a dog salivating whenever a bell rang. Yeah, that's it.

QR CodeWell…aside from the Pavlovian reference, I've seen this thing around town, and I'm seeing it more and more. I'm sure you have too, even if you can't quite place where. Next time you're walking through O'Hare, Midway or Lambert, check out the ads on the terminal walls. Indeed, you might see this same type symbol on billboards, magazines, and stores.

It's called a QR (short for "quick response") code. It's basically a bar code that can be read by your smart phone. Somebody came up with the great idea to combine bar codes and the internet.

How it works

Your smart phone reads the QR bar code and directs you to a relevant website. All you have to do is install a QR code reader (many are free) on your iPhone, Droid, BlackBerry, etc. And if you don't have a smart phone, you really should get one. Today you need immediate, constant contact with both your clients and your office.

When you click on the app, hold your phone up to the code. Your phone's camera will view the QR code. A few seconds later, your smart phone will automatically deliver you to the website, text, or phone number that is dedicated to that QR code.

So, get your smart phones out, get the app, hold it up to the QR code at the top of this article, and give it a zap.

Did you do it? You should now be at my ISBA President's landing page. On that page, you'll notice that you can click to my Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages. From there, you can follow me and the ISBA on our social media pages. I have this same QR code printed on the back of my ISBA business cards so that people that I meet can instantly be connected to the ISBA.

Think about how this symbol, which was originally developed in Japan to track car inventory, can help your practice. Hopefully, your law firm has a website. If not, the ISBA will be working with you to help you generate one.

But even if you do have a website, if nobody is there to view it, does it make a noise? You need to draw people to your site. The QR code can do just that. Instead of people manually typing your web address into a browser field, they can now get to it in a matter of seconds with the wave of a hand.

Make your own - for free

And here's the best part. Generating a QR code is free and easy to do. Just go online and Google "free QR code generator." You will find many sites offering this. One example is

You'll be asked some basic questions, such as what content type you want the QR code to go to. Will it be a URL (uniform resource locator, better known as web address)? Will it be a phone number or written text? Then you simply let the site know where you want the QR code to be directed - your website URL, phone number, etc.

Click "generate," and you have your code. You can copy and paste it wherever you want. It's your code!

Where do most of your clients congregate? What are their traffic patterns? Where do they drive? Where do they walk? If you know these things, you can place a QR code anywhere, directing the public to your website.

Think about the possibilities - giant billboards, small signs, brochures, business cards, flyers, magazine ads, direct mailings, t-shirts. We are just scratching the surface on how to use these codes.

This technology is already huge in Europe and Asia. It's just catching on in the U.S. and is already the next big thing. QR codes are cool, and you will be too, if you use them.

Communication, technology, marketing - the world is moving faster and getting smaller. With ISBA's help, Illinois lawyers will be on that cutting edge to compete and shape the future.

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