Legally Speaking: More Low Moments in Lawyer Advertising

John G. Browning Oct. 17, 2011, 8:29am

It's no secret that in this depressed economy many lines of work have taken a beating. The legal profession is certainly one of them.

Recent law school graduates are having a tougher time than ever finding jobs in their chosen field. In June 2011 alone, the legal sector had lost 2,600 jobs. Because of this, competition for legal work is becoming more and more intense, leading many lawyers to explore even more creative ways to market themselves.

Of course, there's "creative," and then there's unusual and sometimes downright tacky.

In the United Kingdom, the matrimonial lawyers at Follett Stock Solicitors have drawn the ire of local religious leaders for advertising (for a limited time only) free divorces.

The offer, made via the firm's website, Twitter, and in a flyer, doesn't include court costs or extras like tracking down an estranged spouse. Clergymen maintain that the free offer encourages couples to make a hasty decision about splitting; the law firm counters that it's just good advertising and a public service for those who want to divorce but can't afford the legal fees.

Over here in the U.S., Portland, Ore., personal injury firm Berkshire Ginsberg has nothing to hide—literally. In June, the firm sponsored the popular annual World Naked Bike Ride event, which was expected to draw as many as 20,000 au naturel cyclists.

Firm partner Mark Ginsberg is an avid cyclist, and he saw sponsorship as a way to promote his firm's representation of the vulnerable. The tagline associated with the lawyers' support of the ride read "When you're naked, we've got you covered."

For a lot of lawyers, hitting the books in school meant entry into a world where they wouldn't have to do jobs like deliver pizza. Now a new company founded by non-lawyer Chris Miles promises legal help as quickly as—well, a pizza.

LawyerUp, which operates in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, offers subscribers (who pay $4.95 a month) access to a lawyer within 15 minutes of a legal emergency. LawyerUp gets paid $100 for the first call (for nonsubscribers), and the attorneys earn up to $250 for the first hour of work (they have to be agreeable to taking late night calls).

Chris Miles rationalizes the service by saying "If I want a pizza, I can get a pizza in 15 minutes. . . . Why can't I get a lawyer?"

Connecticut Bar Association President Ralph Monaco called the company's name "so tasteless."

For other lawyers, it's all about the ads themselves. Ontario trial lawyers at Sanders, Lyn & Ragonetti advertise their divorce practice with a photo of a sports car bearing the license plate "WAS HIS" (I guess they represented the wife).

Philadelphia lawyer Larry Leftkowitz seeks to associate himself with trustworthiness with an ad in which his head is Photoshopped onto Abraham Lincoln's body. Maybe he specializes in rail-splitting, or emancipations.

Meanwhile, Tulsa trial lawyer Bryce A. Hill has his firm's ad prominently featured on a race car for NASCAR fans everywhere. Yes, nothing says "classy" quite like having a law firm name and "" right above the Confederate flag and a Jack Daniels logo.

Some law firms go with a musical approach. New York personal injury firm Greenstein & Milbauer opted for a rap song; some of the lyrics include "Have a neck broke/from an accident you didn't provoke?"

The Los Angeles-based entertainment law firm of White O'Connor, on the other hand, uploaded a YouTube video with a lawyer in a suit singing a reggae song about their practice.

Other attorneys take a more personal approach. Peruse the website of the law firm of Mahoney Anderson LLC in Eden Prairie, Minn., and you find out more than you cared to know about attorney David M. Anderson. For example, Anderson boasts that before marrying a "former International Fashion Model and Miss Minnesota World," he "dated women who went on to positions on the Federal Bench and National Anchor spots on FOX News."

Seriously? This guy thinks who he's dated should somehow make a prospective client want to hire him? If this isn't enough to make you think Anderson is a colossal tool, then consider his online business card, which notes that "Tri-lingual and an accomplished Jazz Pianist and 3-time Marathon Finisher, David continues to wonder in awe at his endowment of excessive gifts and talents, when so many others have been apparently deprived of any."

Hopefully, he meant this to be taken tongue in cheek, or else make sure there's enough room in his conference room for you, Anderson, and Anderson's ego.

Maybe Anderson was inspired by Baltimore, Maryland attorney Barry Glazer, whose Facebook page boasts "Every once in a while, a man emerges to lead the masses to greatness. With his cunning intelligence, impressively dyed blonde hair, and great catchphrases, Barry Glazer has become not only a law hero in Baltimore, but also an Icon throughout Maryland."


Maybe the "great catchphrases" aspect is true; Glazer is known for his commercials, a number of which can be found on YouTube, and many of which have something to do with urine.

In one ad, he refers to himself as "Legal advocate for the injured, disabled, and urinated upon;" in another, he admonishes insurance companies to not "urinate on my leg and tell me it's raining." He even comments on the BP oil spill with the tagline "BP'eed on lately" and his website features a "Don't Pee on Me" tab.

I guess there's a reason why, when you think of "classy," lawyer ads don't exactly spring to mind.

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