There's been lots of talk amongst personal injury attorneys about attorney advertising. I think the general consensus amongst lawyers that I have spoken with is that we'd all like to see tv advertising for lawyers become a thing of the past. There are some who say "but its to inform the public about their rights"; ok, but its gone way past that point right? I challenge you to watch tv for 15 mintues straight - any channel - and NOT see an attorney add. Chances are that you'll probably see several. Another general consensus amongst laywers I talk to is that while they'd like to see attorney tv ads go away, they don't think it will happen.
Regardless of how you or I feel about attorney ads, what ultimately matters, at least here in Florida, is how the Florida Bar feels and this is what they said in their "Advertising Update" article which appeared in the March 15, 2010 issue of The Florida Bar News:
So want to know the short version of what attorneys can and cannot say? Ready to play that attorney can / cannot say that!? I'll put the statements up today and tomorrow give you the answers - meantime - see if you can guess? Leave a comment to play along.
1. Can a Florida Lawyer say "We"?
c. It depends on if the attorney is a solo practitioner or part of a firm.
d. A lawyer can say "Oui" if he is trying to answer in the affirmative while speaking to a French person when asked are you a lawyer?
2. Can A Florida Lawyer call his/her firm "Awesome Accident Attorneys"?
a. Yes, because that it is a totally awesome name for a law firm.
b. No, because a more descriptive name for the firm would be "Wicked Awesome Accident Attorneys"plus that would give the snow birds knowledge that the attorney knew a little something about how people talk in New England which might be an added plus.
c. No, because a trade name like "X Law Group" is misleading and violates the rule if an attorney is a solo practitioner.
d. Not unless the attorney has appeared on the TV show The Bachelor, in which case, the attorney should call himself "The Most Amazing Accident Attorney For Your Journey - We'll Give You A Rose At The Close Of Your Case."
3. Can a Florida Lawyer say "We all have something we do best. I represent injured people. That's what I do best." ?
a. Yes, because, just like they say in the Cub Scouts "We Always Do Our Best."
b. No, because the attorney probably does something else best and probably hasn't thought that statement out carefully enough. And who's to say what's best? Did he do some testing before making that statement?
c. Yes, because the last sentence of that statement does not describe or characterize the quality of the services being offered.
d. Only if the attorney plays the song "You're Simply The Best - Better Than All The Rest" at the end of the ad and he does the two fists raised high in the air champion style with an American Flag waving in the background.
4. Can A Florida Attorney Say "We've had cases where policies had been changed and the family has been paid money, but they're happier about the policy change that's been made then they are about the money..."
a. Yes, because lawyers are supposed to make the world fair.
b. No, because they have incorrectly used the word "then" instead of the correct word "than" which should be used for comparisons.
c. No, because the statement refers to past successes or results obtained which is prohibited in attorney ads in Florida.
d. No, because they didn't tell us what the change obtained was.
5. Can A Florida Lawyer say "[name of attorney] ... played a significant role in [the appointment of four new Justices to] the Florida Supreme Court. In all, he advised Crist on the selection of 62 judges throughout the state." in a National Law Journal?
a. No because that statement should have been in a Florida Law Journal not a National Law Journal.
b. Yes, because then the clients will know that if their case goes to court with this lawyer, then the lawyer and the judge are probably friends and play golf, which will no doubt help with the result obtained in their case.
c. Yes, but only if it is not a misleading statement, in other words, if its true then the lawyer can say it.
d. Only if the lawyer discloses how much money he gave to the judges's campaigns and promises that he didn't give them any kickbacks or that sort of thing.
So leave a comment with your guesses and I'll post back with the answers.
And bonus: Let me know whether I can sign my letters like this:
"Wicked Awesome Attorney, Kathryn Fenderson Scott"