The conservative newspaper, D.C. Examiner, wrote an interesting editorial exposing sleezy lawyer advertising.
I thought it was interesting and consistent with my views, and replied:
I'm a plaintiff's personal injury and medical malpractice attorney in Fairfax. I fully agree with the position you take calling for courts, legislatures and state bars to reign in lawyer advertising.
You correctly identify the "lottery mentality" that ads featuring million dollar bills evoke. Here are some other problems with ads that depict large sums of money, pit bulls, flying saucers and gory accident scenes:
1. Jurors are often biased against even legitimate claims because of the tasteless advertising of the few.
2. Such advertising provides no useful information for a consumer. Consumers have no real way of knowing whether they are hiring a legitimate, experienced trial lawyer willing to take their cases to court or whether what they are getting is a "settle everything with paralegals" type attorney with a slick advertising campaign. The insurance companies do know who settles everything for 50% on the dollar!
3. The expectations of my clients are unreasonably raised when they see someone else's ads featuring "quick cash, no office visit, no court" (as one ad in the Tidewater area of Virginia boasts.) The reality is that in Virginia at least, most jurors are fairly conservative and most cases tough. My clients say "why can't you do that for me?"
4. The problem with the 1-800-Sue-Them type phone numbers and "exclusive territories" again, is that often the only "qualification" the attorney at the other end of the phone line has is a big advertising budget.
5. The "Find a lawyer" websites suffer from the same problem in that case inquiries are often routed to the lawyer who has paid the most for a "spot" on the site.
Consumers need to do their part as well. They often spend more time researching a new refrigerator than they do a lawyer.
To help consumers fight back against this lawyer advertising non-sense, I wrote a book that I give away for free. It's called the "Truth About Lawyer Advertising." It exposes sleazy and misleading advertising for what it is and explains what questions a consumer should really be asking before hiring a lawyer.
The book is free and available at www.TheTruthAboutLawyerAdvertising.com