Is That Billboard Selling Fast Food Or Fast Lawyers?
“Do you have a billboard?” I was sitting with a group of parents at a recent school event when one mother innocently asked me the question. “I thought I saw your name on a billboard.”
“No,” I politely answered. What I really felt like saying — “Never. I know a lot of lawyers and would personally never hire one who is on a billboard.” For our firm, it is a matter of professionalism. At their core, all legal matters are personal. Sometimes, these very personal matters require detailed preparation and special study. What do you typically get with a billboard lawyer? You get the false bravado of a lawyer with a manufactured smile or stare telling you some catch phrase to get your business. Catch phrases like:
“We got this”
“Need a check?”
If you just need a lawyer to make a few phone calls, you can hire the billboard lawyer. Go ahead. After all, those lawyers are typically running settlement mills aimed at resolving cases with a phone call as quickly as possible. Automobile insurance companies love these billboard lawyers because they resolve cases for much less than their real value. It’s all about client numbers and volumes to most of those settlement mill lawyers. Settlement mill lawyers rarely, if ever, appear in court to fight for clients seriously hurt in an automobile accident. If you have a serious case or serious injury, you can and should do better. You should research your options before calling a lawyer.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not opposed to all lawyer marketing. However, I do believe in authentic and honest promotion of lawyer services. I also believe lawyers should add value with any advertising by answering questions, providing real legal advice or serving their local community. Smiles and false confidence of lawyers saying “we got this” are wrong. That false confidence rarely makes it to court. Look behind the smiles. Look past the promises. Look past the paid actors in commercials. Is the attorney authentically writing, teaching and advocating within the legal specialty you need? Is the attorney really respected by his or her peers? Is the attorney actually appearing in trial for the types of cases advertised? Ask some other lawyers. Ask around and you’ll learn where other lawyers really refer their cases.
Anyone can smile for a billboard. Anyone can repeat a catch phrase for a video or commercial. We even have one Huntsville billboard law firm advertising for cases it actually intends to refer. The firm’s billboards advertise services in all types of specialties including personal injury. Yet, the fine print on the Huntsville billboard firm’s website tells consumers it intends to send personal injury cases to outside counsel. Think about it — That firm wants you to believe it really handles a specific type of case just so it can refer the claim for a fee. In my opinion, that’s simply wrong. North Alabama has many excellent attorneys but none of them are on the billboards littering our local highways. When lawyers become another mass commodity on billboards, real people with personal legal needs suffer. An assembly line may be fine for fast food but it is not fine for people with legal needs.