Legal Quandary

Friday, May 27, 2005

He's Baaaa-ack!

It was another “good” day in PR. The days we watch videos in class and discuss the ethical considerations are always the good days. And then there are all those other days. Let's not dwell on the negative.

As I said, today was a video day. We were talking about attorney advertising.

We started out with some “good” examples. Apparently, the ABA even gives out awards for commercials that are “dignified” and “professional” and “reflect well upon the profession.”

Nothing really remarkable here. Obviously most of these law firms shelled out some bucks to an ad agency to put together some beautiful but random footage (mountains, farmland, families playing together, you name it) with some stirring music, and come up with a decent product that would leave viewers with a favorable image of their firm. Because I always find that when I’m looking for someone to handle the most intimate details of my life, I want the folks I’ve seen on tv.

Other commercials didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but still came off as "classy". I guess. Classical music playing in the background. A workshop where someone is lovingly creating a musical instrument. All of a sudden the word “craftsmanship” in a fancy script shows up on the screen, and then the scene changes to a room full of lawyers and the announcer starts talking about “legal craftsmanship.” Whatever the hell that is.

Of course, we all know that this is just building us up for what we really want to see. We want to see the bad examples. The what not to do and how not to do it.

Obviously, a class on attorney advertising wouldn't be complete without mentioning Mr. Gallagher. Again. This time we viewed the prom dress commercial in class.

We also watched several commercials for Jim “The Hammer” Shapiro. Whose motto is “I Sue Drunks.” He candidly tells his potential clientele, whom he lovingly refers to as Victims! Victims! Victims! that “I cannot rip out the hearts of the people who hurt you! I cannot hand you their severed heads.” (Picture flames and carnage in the background.) But take heart, because while “they started it, I'll finish it!”

* Sadly, it appears Mr. Shapiro is not currently able to accept new clients due to his 1 year suspension for sending a solicitation letter to a comatose patient.

In discussing whether outrageous domain names fall into the category of advertising, we examined the website of some really great lawyers, whose style has been likened to "junkyard dogs, ferocious commandos, Rambo, fearless warriors, and workaholics.” Keep in mind that these despite their tough exterior, these lawyers have also “produced awe-inspiring, scholarly briefs; used ingenuity and imaginative legal arguments to change the law where it was necessary for their clients to obtain a just result; and have organized and mastered files containing millions of pages of evidentiary documents.”

I don't know if it'll help me pass the bar (and judging by the results of my "midterm," I'd say it won't). But it was hugely entertaining.

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