TV lawyers blanket the airwaves. It seems like you can’t watch TV for more than a minute without seeing a pile of lawyer advertising. They pretty much dominate daytime TV with lawyer ads. Not that you don’t see ads for attorneys on prime time television. Daytime TV works out better for them because the rates are lower and their advertising dollars provide more coverage.
If you watch daytime television the TV lawyers are everywhere. Not that there’s anything wrong just by the fact of the ads. Attorney advertising has been allowed since 1977.
But consumers, people looking for a lawyer, have a right to question what is behind the ads. Why are there so many? How much are they spending? Are TV lawyers any better than your local attorney.
What is the best way to find an attorney anyhow?
How Much Do TV Lawyers Spend?
A handful of law firms spend over $ 10 Million Dollars a year in TV ads. A study by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform reported TV lawyers were expected to spend $892 Million in one recent year, a 68 per cent increase in only seven years. One Houston law firm topped the list with approximately $25 Million in TV ads.
The bottom line on that study: Lawyer spending on TV ads went up six times faster than overall ad spending in the years following 2008.
Sometimes people ask why they spend so much. Why do they spend it at all? Do you think they would spend that kind of money if the income generated from those ads didn’t more than pay the cost?
Do TV Lawyers Do What They Say They’ll Do?
One court found that a law firm’s TV ads implying that they were willing and able to try, and actually did try, personal injury cases was misleading because no attorney at the firm had ever actually tried a personal injury case to a conclusion. In another case, and all of these cases are fully cited in the footnotes at the end of this blog, a North Carolina court uncovered misleading ads where no attorney in the law firm had ever tried a case under the trade name of the law firm.
In yet another case a Rochester, New York attorney claimed to be super aggressive in the courtroom. Calling himself “The Hammer” he worked out of law offices in New York and Florida. He referred to himself in TV ads as the meanest, nastiest S.O.B. in town. At the same time by his own admission in a deposition, he acknowledged he never tried a personal injury claim in court. He was suspended from practice and the ads were found deceptive and misleading.
Are TV Lawyer Ads True?
In another case ads were found to violate the rules of professional conduct where a TV ad created the impression that insurance companies were anxious to settle cases simply due to the advertising attorney’s reputation. The ads, produced by a Massachusetts production and marketing company implied the insurance company settled cases solely based on an attorney’s reputation. That claim was proven false. Those ads were pulled off the air, but not until after running approximately 8,500 times in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina TV market alone.
TV Lawyers and Your Case
Those facts represent only a few cases. Successful attorneys who advertise heavily on TV and stay out of trouble may argue those are isolated cases. They might be right.
But ask yourself if you have been in a car accident or sustained another type of injury, do you want an attorney thinking more about the next television ad script and shooting schedule, or one focused on meeting with you and handling your case effectively.
TV ads generally break down into several categories. Often the TV lawyers seek a high volume of clients, many or most of whom are referred out to other attorneys. The advertiser may keep one or two cases so they can say that yes they actually represent clients. Others seek a volume of people to pad out the numbers of various class action lawsuits. Cases against prescriptions drug companies, medical device manufacturers and others require numbers.
What Do You Want From Your Attorney?
Nonetheless, massive amounts of money go towards legal TV ads. Chances are, if you contact the TV ad people, you may or may not actually ever meet with the attorney. You’ll likely receive a form to fill out and meet with someone else.
If you’ve been hit with an injury, insurance companies often do not offer the help you need and rely upon, as we’ve discussed in another blog article. While the insurance company befuddles you with less than helpful information, do you want to wait for TV lawyers writing their scripts or do you want to meet quickly with an attorney ready to address your questions. Wouldn’t you rather meet with an attorney quickly who has actually handled cases similar to yours many times before.
Here are the footnotes on which the facts in this blog are based:
In The Matter of Zang, 154 Arizona 134, 741 P.2d 267 (1987).
Farrin v. Thigpen, 173 F. Supp.2d 427 (M.D.N.C. 2001).
In re: Shapiro, 7 A.D. 3d 120 (N.Y. App 2004).
Lawyers Bump Advertising Spending To $890 Million In Quest For Clients, Forbes, October 27, 2015.
This Law Firm Will Spend More Than $25M in Legal advertising this year, report says, ABA Journal, 10/28/2015.