While Stopped At A Traffic Light

While stopped at a traffic light, a billboard caught my eye. Pleasant people gazed back at me, advertising hope, help, and hard-hitting action. They were lawyers.

The pitch isn’t anything new. Attorneys have been advertising for years. Decades will pass before they stop (if they ever do) but the practice of legal advertising remains controversial.

Years ago state bar associations had strict rules about what an attorney could say in advertising materials. That changed in 1977 when the US Supreme Court decided the 1st Amendment protects truthful advertising by lawyers for routine legal services. States can ban false and misleading advertising, the court decided, and that’s about it.

The 1st Amendment protects us all – the general principle is that sticks and stones can be outlawed, but words that don’t cause harm (think, falsely crying fire in a crowded theater) are given a lot of leeway. That includes lawyer ads.

Our firm has this web site, and that’s about it for advertising. No billboards, TV or radio spots, or even display ads in the yellow pages. For one thing, those kinds of media are usually very expensive because they are broad-based and extensive in scope. How many motorists pass
by a billboard of smiling attorneys and at the moment they decide to hire a lawyer? I’d wager not many.

This is not to say that attorneys who go for the flashy mass media aren’t fine and skilled practitioners of law. Far from it, I personally know most of the attorneys around here who go for the big boards and such. It’s just not how this firm rolls.

I tell our clients that we aim to be their personal problem solver, not a hired troublemaker. We value our professional, legal relationships and that includes being respectful to the "other side" – the defense attorneys and insurance adjusters we work with daily. Fighting "hard" doesn’t mean throwing punches or screaming. It means winning legal arguments. A well-prepared legal case speaks for its self, and judges
understand that.

Many times I have been asked by a client what they "owe me" after their claim has been closed. If I only made sure they were treated
appropriately and answered all their questions, then my answer is always the same –  "A kind word now and then."

That’s the best advertising a lawyer could ever have.

Seth Revoal