Lawyer ads are all over Fairfax – bus benches, billboards, TV commercials, radio spots. In many cases, advertising is a great way to find what you need, but is it the best way to find a lawyer?
Think about the purpose of your lawyer; he or she is here to help you understand and navigate the law. We hire attorneys because they are supposed to be our voice and brain when it comes to legal matters. As a personal injury lawyer, I’ve seen many cases won and lost due to a lawyer’s intervention.
The History of Lawyer Ads
Prior to 1977 lawyer ads didn’t exist. In the past, people had to talk to locals or speak with lawyers to get information on local attorneys. But just like any industry, advertising is key to getting business. In 1977, a pair of lawyers in Arizona decided to bring about the world of legal advertising.
The actions of these attorneys advertising low prices for their services ruffled the feathers of many other attorneys, so much so that it brought the issue all the way to the Supreme Court. Eventually, the court ruled that lawyer advertising was legal, and then the flood gates were open for lawyer ads to explode.
As the world of general advertising expanded, so did lawyer advertising. The so-called best way to find a lawyer has grown from ads in the Yellow Pages to the Internet. With every new advertising venue, legal advertising has followed along and embraced the practical and the oddball. While the venues may change, the messages remain the same – confusing, empty, or annoying.
Regulating the Content of Lawyer Ads
The regulation of lawyer ads is sketchy at best. Most state bars have specific rules on where lawyers can advertise and what those advertisements can contain. For example, in Virginia I can’t say that I’m the best personal injury attorney in Fairfax. That’s one of the many claims lawyers can’t make on any of their promotional or official materials. The Virginia State Bar has a few rules on lawyer advertising. A lawyer cannot claim:
- he or she will get a certain result for your case;
- anything that cannot be supported by fact (e.g. they’re “the best”);
- false or misleading information; and
- case results without proper disclaimer.
With little structure regarding what we can and can’t say in our ads, lawyers tend to go too far with the scope of their ad campaigns. There are many ways to advertise – straightforward, wacky, and shocking. Some of these may work for certain lawyers and practices, while others may not. What remains the same is that an advertisement only tells you what the lawyer thinks you need to know – not the information you really need if you’re looking for the best way to find a lawyer.
Ben’s Advice on the Best Way to Find a Lawyer
Now that I’ve told you that lawyer ads are NOT the best way to find a lawyer, I’m going to give you my way to find a lawyer. I can break it down into five steps:
- Step 1 – Learn about your legal problem.
- Step 2 – Make a list of potential attorneys.
- Step 3 – Contact the attorneys and request an information packet regarding their services.
- Step 4 – Arrange an in-person interview and ask the right questions.
- Step 5 – Rank the attorneys based on the values most important to you.
Basically, you need to know what you’re looking for first and then interview your potential candidates before making the important decision.
Ben Glass Knows the Best Way to Find a Lawyer
To help you make a more informed decision and figure out the best way to find a lawyer, I wrote the book, The Truth About Lawyer Advertising. Request a FREE copy by visiting my website or call 703-584-7277. Learn how to protect yourself from deception or frustration from bad lawyer ads!