Southeast Texas no stranger to attorney advertising

Marilyn Tennissen Sep. 10, 2009, 8:11am

A recently released study indicates that plaintiffs' attorneys are more and more frequently using television advertising to generate medical malpractice suits.

The U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform said the number of the TV spots has increased from about 10,150 ads in 2004 to more than 156,000 ads in 2008, marking a nearly 1,400 percent increase in four years.

The ILR, which owns the Southeast Texas Record, also said spending on med-mal advertisements has increased from $3.8 million to nearly $62 million during the same period.

Local residents are certainly familiar with ads from area personal injury attorneys like Jonathan Juhan, Walter Umphrey and Dan Packard who tout their expertise with mesothelioma cases and other types of personal injury suits.

In his ads, Carl Waldman of Waldman Smallwood recites lists of drugs and tells users to call the firm to see if they could receive damages from pharmaceutical companies.

The Record attempted to contacted each of the attorneys to see if the firms are spending more, but the attorneys or their advertising personnel were either unavailable or did not return calls.

One local television station sales manager said numbers of attorney ads have been steady for a number of years.

Rix Garey, sales manager for KFDM 6, said the area has always had personal injury pitches, but did not specify if there was an increase in medical malpractice ads.

"TV advertising used to have a stigma attached to it in the legal community, but that stigma has eased up," Garey said. "More and more are using the power of television to get their message out."

He noted that since Southeast Texas has been hit by three hurricanes in the last four years, ads for insurance company suits have been dominant recently.

Several local law firms are listed in KFDM's advertiser index, including Sutton & Jacobs, Brian Loncar & Assoc., Packar Packard & LaPray and Snider & Bird.

A sales manager at KBMT 12 was working on compiling law firm advertising figures as of press time.

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