The Truth About Lawyers & Lawyer Advertising

•Not all lawyers have the same training. Warren Burger, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, once warned, “A lawyer is not qualified, simply by virtue of admission to the bar, to be an advocate in trial courts for matters of serious consequence.” Many lawyers continue their professional training throughout their careers, but for some, the last time they learned anything new about their craft was in law school.

• The bar association does not determine whether a lawyer can advertise that he is a “divorce lawyer” or a “personal injury specialist.” There are virtually no restrictions on the types of law for which a lawyer may advertise. Once an attorney graduates from law school, he or she is allowed to handle virtually any case, even if he or she has no experience with that type of case!

• Not all lawyers go to trial; some who advertise for personal injury or medical malpractice cases have never gone to trial, they are just “settlement mills.” The problem with “settlement mills” is that insurance companies will usually not offer full value for a claim unless they believe the attorney will actually go to trial and make them pay more.

 • Not all lawyers have basically the same experience. This may seem obvious, but many people (and some lawyers) think “a lawyer is a lawyer is a lawyer.”

• A lawyer who is good at DWI cases won’t necessarily be good at personal injury cases—while this may have been true in the “old days,” today the practice of both DWI and personal injury cases is highly focused. The same goes for just about every other type of law.

• Not all lawyers carry legal malpractice insurance. It is perfectly legal for a lawyer not to purchase malpractice insurance. Shockingly, these uninsured lawyers are not required to tell you who they are! You must ask for this information.

• The fact that a lawyer advertises that he accepts certain types of cases does not necessarily mean that he actually has experience with those types of cases. Again, there are no strict rules against advertising for cases about which you have no experience. Not all lawyers who advertise in the Yellow Pages for serious injury or wrongful death cases, for example, have any real experience handling a serious injury or wrongful death case.

• The lawyer who advertises won’t necessarily be the lawyer handling your case. Sometimes the lawyers you see in the advertisements will not do any work on most cases their firms take in. They will pass the case off to junior attorneys or paralegals. Some lawyers advertise for cases simply to refer them out to other lawyers. What do they expect to get for this? Big, fat referral fees.

• The lawyer who advertises on Washington TV may not even live in Washington! Some lawyers who are on our local TV actually live in other states. Sure, they have an office here, but most likely you will not get the guy you see on TV actually working on your case.

• A “lawyer referral service” is not necessarily a good way to find the right lawyer for your case. Lawyers pay to be on these lists and no one checks to see whether the lawyer is good or has experience in your legal matter.
• A full-page ad in the Yellow Pages or massive TV advertising is not necessarily a sign of success. Some lawyers run a “volume practice,” hoping to make a little money off each case—usually by settling most, if not all, of the cases. Shockingly, in some offices paralegals handle virtually the entire case! You can’t even get “your lawyer” on the phone. The only time you see the lawyer may be if his face is on the TV, billboard or Yellow
Pages ad.

• Most Internet lawyer directories are nothing more than another advertising medium. Lawyers are solicited daily to pay big bucks to have an “exclusive listing” as a personal injury attorney in a particular city. The big check they mail to be
included is sometimes their only “qualification.”

Source: The Shocking Truth about Washington Lawyer Advertising - By Jason G. Epstein

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