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When Attorney Advertising Takes A Turn For The Worse

 

Law library books by Janet LindenmuthI’m disappointed by lawyers who claim to be specialists in ALL legal fields. It’s an impossible claim. It’s a claim that diminishes the legal profession. It’s a claim that will harm clients. If you hear a lawyer advertise as a specialist in all legal matters, my advice is to call someone else.

We actually have lawyers in Huntsville with billboards and videos marketing themselves as specialists in all legal fields. They want your case. Tax issue? Sign up. Estate issue? Sign up. Family law problem? Sign up. DUI? Sign up. Personal injury claim? Sign up. That kind of advertising makes the legal profession look bad. Why? In truth, if your case is complicated, these lawyers would quickly be in way over their heads.

Would you ask a foot specialist to treat you for an infectious disease? Would you ask a foot specialist to treat you for a traumatic brain injury? Of course not. In the legal field, why hire a DUI lawyer for your personal injury claim? If anybody loses in these scenarios, it is you as the consumer.

The case of the Huntsville law firm with new billboards seeking personal injury cases is a perfect example. It’s a group of DUI lawyers. I know one of them. And, he does a good job with DUIs. Now, they want you to believe they are also personal injury specialists. To get these cases, they claim expertise in the specialty. Here’s the truth:

  • Their website personal injury page contains a disclaimer. That’s right, a disclaimer that they really don’t practice the specialty they preach. The firm doesn’t handle the real personal injury trial work. They farm your case out to outside lawyers for this work.
  • Their youtube videos claim personal injury expertise. Yet, after several minutes of talk you are finally told these cases are referred outside the firm.

This DUI firm wants your personal injury case for one real reason — just to take part of the fee. That’s the truth. Someone else will prepare it for trial. I think it’s misleading to seek clients in fields you don’t really serve. I suspect these Huntsville lawyers know their marketing is deceptive. That’s why one of their videos tries to spin the matter as a client service. These guys are criminal defense lawyers. The rules for criminal and civil court are different. The dockets for criminal and civil court are different. The levels of proof for criminal and civil court are different. The issues, players, burdens, and many other things for criminal and civil court are completely different. They are not adding value to your personal injury claim. They are deducting value from it. How? They deduct value from your claim in several ways such as:

  • By directing your case to real personal injury lawyers that you do not know and have not investigated.
  • By delaying your case before it gets to a real personal injury lawyer. In some cases, that delay is OK. In others, time-sensitive evidence could disappear. Or, time-sensitive advice may not be given.
  • By requiring a legal fee. These advertising lawyers will tell you their fee does not impact what you will get. On one level, that is true. You are being charged the same percentage and it is simply being split between multiple law firms. On another level, this arrangement can affect your case. For example, if you have a risky, difficult or doubtful case, the real trial lawyers may be unwilling to invest the substantial time and resources needed to prepare fully the claim for only a portion of the fee.
  • By directing all claims to the same trial lawyer regardless of type or issue. Some trial lawyers are better at car accidents while others are better at product liability claims. These billboard lawyers typically have a deal with a specific trial firm who will get all their cases regardless of unique issues. Again, that can be bad for some cases.

Lawyers should take advice from doctors on the subject of advertising. Don’t advertise in specialties you don’t really practice. Consumers deserve better than billboards and youtube videos claiming expertise. At the Blackwell Law Firm, we specialize. We spend all our time studying and preparing in our area of the law. That focus is something we consider essential for our clients.