Here’s a secret about some lawyer ads: they’re not always created for the law firm they advertise! Have you seen ads with celebrities telling you to call a reputable law firm? Then you see the name of some Fairfax law office (or another specific city in your area) on the bottom?

The ad is trying to make you think that "so-and-so" endorses this attorney. What you don’t know is that these ads are national - the only change is the name of the firm at the bottom of your screen.

Who Pays For These Lawyer Ads?

Do expensive lawyer ads mean they are a better lawyer?In some cases, a huge law firm in a major city pays small law firms in remote cities to have big ad campaigns. This helps bring in more cases to the small firms, who may then refer cases to the big firm for a fee. So if this is the case, you could end up not with that Fairfax law firm you expected, but with a firm in another city!

But even if a law firm pays for its advertisements, simply being able to afford a TV commercial or huge billboard doesn’t mean it’s winning cases left and right. All it takes is a single million dollar settlement to provide revenue to fund an expensive ad campaign.

A lawyer’s advertising should never be on your list of credentials to examine when looking for the best lawyer for your case. The only thing lawyer ads do is draw attention to the fact that the lawyer exists. They don’t tell you what working with that law firm will be like, so go to the lawyer’s website, read their materials, and make that initial consultation.

So what’s the best way to find a lawyer if it’s not ads?

Research. Even when you’re looking for a lawyer to handle the case for you, you’re still going to have to do a bit of work yourself. Do you want an ad in the Yellow Pages to determine who is fighting for your injury settlement? Can you trust a divorce attorney simply because you saw an ad on a Fairfax Connector bus bench?

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.