Lawyers and Advertising | Lipman & Katz

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Lawyers and Advertising

Most people, including most lawyers, find lawyers advertising to be offensive. The Courts, however, have ruled that as a matter of first amendment rights lawyers have the right to advertise. Some advertisements, particularly on TV, are in poor taste and further promote a negative image of attorneys and claimants. Recently, I observed an advertisement on TV in another state in which the person who appeared perfectly fine raved about how good a job her attorney had done in obtaining a $1,500,000 judgment.


Many advertisements on TV are from law firms that work on volume. With these law firms, most clients may have little contact with a real attorney and most cases are worked up towards a rather quick settlement. Unless the firm can settle the case, it will refer the matter to another law firm for purposes of taking it to court and trying the case. Unfortunately, there is the distinct possibility that cases will be settled for less than reasonable value as the law firm does not want to pay a portion of its fee to another law firm to take the case to court.


One should be wary when the first and subsequent meetings are not with the attorney but with paralegals or other legal assistants. Also, one should ask whether the attorney you are meeting with will be the attorney that would take the case to court in the event the matter cannot be settled. One should ask the lawyer how many cases he or she has actually taken to trial. The best settlements are obtained when the lawyer can say to the insurance company, "if you do not settle this case reasonably, I will take it to Court and obtain a reasonable judgment."


The best way to find a lawyer is through friends and family who have had an experience with a lawyer. If that lawyer does not handle that particular type of work, then he or she will refer the client to an attorney who does. Certainly, if one has used a lawyer in the past and has been satisfied with him or her that would be the first place to go.


In conclusion, a law firm that does extensive advertising, particularly for personal injury work, only demonstrates that it has the finances to spend a lot of money. Advertising is expensive but is not a meaningful gauge of competence.