‘Get rich quick’ lawyer ads may be killing golden-egg-laying goose

Published 11:07 am Tuesday, January 17, 2017

‘Get rich quick’ lawyer ads may be killing  golden-egg-laying goose

You know that you are passing through the low-rent end of a lawyer district when you pass by a brightly-lit message board soliciting “Dog Bite Cases.”
My wife’s first thought as we drove past the sign along Airline Highway in Metairie was that it was a new bar opening, but I saw a lawyer shingle also posted on the same building, though far less conspicuously.
This followed our recent exposure to lawyer advertising in three TV markets — Memphis, New Orleans and Milwaukee — where they are looking for bigger fish to fry, car wrecks and such. It seems the slogan “One call that’s all” appears in all three markets but for different lawyers.
In New Orleans it is the slogan of Morris Bart whose TV presentations have gained considerable polish over the years.
There’s another firm whose name I can’t remember, but the main lawyer making the pitch that her firm employs “tough, smart lawyers” was a sweet, Miss Piggy look-alike with a high-pitched voice totally out of character for tough. Recently, the firm has had a more appropriate voice-over making the “tough” pitch.
You’ve probably drawn your own conclusions while watching lawyer ads on TV. Mine is that they probably work well, but that success comes with a caveat. The success that lawyers have found by making legal services sound like a get-rich-quick schemes has also fueled support for tort reform legislation that has capped the amounts that plaintiffs can be awarded from personal injury cases.
I have long been convinced that contingency-fee legal cases help give the little guy a level playing field against a big guy when they get to court. Class action lawsuits also help level that field. A little guy has no chance against the vast legal resources available to a big guy, but put a bunch of little guys together in a class represented by lawyers whose hope for getting paid comes only if he or she wins for the little guy, then the little guys get powerfully represented.
I admit that my views are overly simplistic and don’t take into account the greed we sometimes see when there is a big, class-action settlement where the settlement amounts paid to the class of little guys pales woefully compared to the lawyers’ fees, but that gets back again to greed.
That’s why something in me cringes at the lawyer ads that look like promises of get-rich-quick schemes. It’s like they are going to keep on until they kill the goose that laid the golden egg.
Meanwhile I read a column in the New Orleans Times-Picayune about a little boy who wanted a celebrity theme birthday party. Celebrity-themed birthday parties are apparently trendy among trendy folks’ kids.
The celebrity that this little boy wanted was none other than Morris Bart, the New Orleans personal injury attorney whose advertising has apparently turned him into a celebrity. They invited Bart to the party, but he declined. He sent an autographed photo instead.

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