Adding Insult to Injury

Pulling the plug on attorney advertising could get somebody sued -- including the State of Colorado

Although the changes now on the table seem minor, Vladeck suggests they may "force people into very bland, very sterile advertising that is either unhelpful to the client or not economically viable for the lawyer." Janet Frickey says she will probably have to change an ad that features a "distinguished older gentleman" as a spokesman in order to clarify that the man is not a lawyer. Kaufman, who has already cut back on commercials in favor of the Yellow Pages, frets about "the time you have to put into conforming with bureaucratic nonsense," such as a requirement that firms maintain a four-year log of when and where ads are aired or published.

"If we didn't advertise at all, it wouldn't be the end of the world for us," Kaufman says. "But it's still wrong. This is supposed to be a free country."

No one, it seems, is more outraged by the ad crackdown than the huckster emeritus of lawyer advertising, Norton Frickey. Now seventy and retired, Frickey sat on a CBA committee on advertising at the time the Figa-Anderson task force was formed--a committee totally bypassed by the process. "As far as I know, they never even looked at our research," he snaps.

Frickey still smarts over the way other lawyers reacted when he first started advertising. "I was treated like a bad disease," he says. "They wouldn't speak to me. Ordinary professional courtesy disappeared. Then they started a whispering campaign: 'He's not a good lawyer. He's just a settlement mill.' But then we started getting million-dollar awards."

Celebrity and personal success have eased the pain of being regarded as a pariah by his tonier colleagues, Frickey says. People still greet him in restaurants and thank him for providing affordable legal services. "The little games they're playing now don't bother me," he says. "We're an institution. The people it will hurt are the young lawyers just getting into advertising."

And the clients?
"These blue-ribbon, silk-stocking lawyers should come to our office for one day and see the kind of people we represent," he growls. "The $300-an-hour boys would never see these people in their lifetime. Believe it or not, we're their only access to the courtroom.

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I never noticed any particular difference among Texas lawyer ads compared to what was described in the beginning. Still pretty in your face. I know a <a href="">Chicago personal injury attorney</a> that is really, really opposed to lawyer advertising, and I don't think the Blackbeard is to pirates as Ad lawers are to the law field is a good comparison.