Let's say you're a Chicago personal injury lawyer. Your firm hires Big Time Web Consultant to help you "get found" on line. Perhaps they build you a website/blog. They optimize your site/blog for keywords that they tell you are relevant to your practice. For example, "Chicago personal injury lawyer".
They use "Chicago personal injury lawyer" in your title tag (one of the factors Google uses to rank your site).
Then, another Chicago personal injury law firm calls up Big Time Web Consultant. Big Time Web Consultant sells them a website/blog. They optimize the site/blog for the same keywords.
They use "Chicago personal injury lawyer" in your competitor's title tag!
Now look, I'm not suggesting that mere keyword overlap constitutes a huge conflict of interest. What I am saying, is that by targeting the same title tag keywords, building anchor text links for that keyword, and focusing the majority of their SEO efforts on competing keywords, they are creating a problem for you.
I mean, you wouldn't represent the same party on two sides of a lawsuit, would you?
I imagine, if you're the highest bidder, they will "help" you the most. This just doesn't seem that fair. The problem is, most law firms don't have any idea that this is going on.
Unfortunately, this situation is more of the rule, than the exception. I can think of at least 3 major law firm web providers that use this "bidding war" approach. Further, and I'm just guessing here, I would say that these three players represent over 80% of the law firms on line (and that's conservative).
Find a lawyer Internet marketing company that has some form of "exclusive partnership" or "non-compete" agreement.