There is a thread going around the legal blogosphere about the marketing tactics some law firms are employing. Some of these ads are regarded as somewhat problematic. One example of a particularly edgy ad is this video which was posted on YouTube by Steve Miller, a trial lawyer in Florida and Massachusetts.
I was about to write about the problem with this approach and approaches like it and then I stopped myself and asked myself why this is problematic? Should lawyers be permitted to advertise using this sort of content? I’m not talking about using multimedia to advertise but rather what is said in that ad. As Carolyn Elefant of MyShingle puts it:
Personally, I’m not sure why Miller chose to market to angry or disgruntled clients, because he doesn’t have to. As Miller’s website makes clear, Miller competes aggressively on price which I’ve always believed is both a credible and necessary approach not just for lawyers, but for clients priced out of the legal services market. But by attempting to appeal to people who call their spouse "vermin" or refer to their marriage as a "hell hole," Miller virtually guarantees that he’s going to attract clients who are unreasonable and uncompromising. These clients may think of their spouses as vermin when they call to retain Miller, but I’m guessing that by the end of the case, they’ll be referring to Miller as vermin as well. Sometimes you get the clients you deserve.
I suspect the Law Societies in South Africa wouldn’t tolerate these sorts of ads for very long and they would take the view that these ads don’t do the perception of the legal profession any favours (although I suspect the average person in the street may not agree). We may be getting close though. Here is a photo of an ad that a tourist found in Cape Town:
Image sourced from Klaas Oost’s Flickr account.
What do you think?