This is WHY the ABA wants new rules to regulate online lawyer marketing

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world's tackiest lawyer ad everLast week, I joined the chorus of attorneys who strongly object to the ABA’s proposal to promulgate new rules regulating what attorneys can do on the Internet to market their services.

This weekend, I saw a video of a TV commercial by Florida divorce attorney, Steven D. Miller and thought I might have been hasty. The video, which someone put on YouTube with the caption, “Tackiest Lawyer Ad. . .Ever,” is a prime example of why the ABA is considering new rules. Watch and you’ll see why.

[mc src=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1Qk6QPzuIc” type=”youtube”]Tackiest Lawyer Ad Ever[/mc]

Wait. It gets better.

The web site for Mr. Miller’s practice is. . . (are you sitting down?). . . “DivorceDeli.com“. Yep, you can look at their menu, call or click, and order your divorce. “Would you like pickles with your restraining order?”

I’m pretty open minded but let’s face it, this commercial and the entire “deli” concept is in very bad taste. It reflects poorly on all lawyers. One subscriber to this blog wrote to say he was against lawyer advertising of any kind because of the negative impression lawyers’ TV commercials have on juries and this has to be “Exhibit A”. But as ugly as this is, I still don’t want (or think we need) more rules.

I don’t want to legislate taste. I don’t want to outlaw embarrassing behavior. I don’t want to be told what I can and cannot do. And, unless it is the only way to prevent serious, irreparable harm, I don’t want to tell anyone else what to do.

Mr. Miller obviously does what he does because it’s working for him. God bless him. He’s serving a segment of society that might otherwise be denied access to the legal system because of their lack of funds (or good taste). I disagree with his approach but I must defend his right to do what he does without interference from the ABA or anyone else.

So, whether you laughed at this video and web site or recoiled in disgust, I hope you’re with me. If you agree that despite examples like these, we don’t need or want additional regulations, please tell the ABA.

Comments should be sent to: Natalia Vera, Senior Research Paralegal, Commission on Ethics 20/20 ABA Center for Professional Responsibility, 321 North Clark Street, 15th Floor, Chicago, IL 60654-7598. Phone: 312/988-5328, fax: 312/988-5280 and email: veran@staff.abanet.org. The comment period ends on December 15.

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Comments

  1. Wow? An attorney sent me the link. Very unprofessional video. Kinda funny! Nice article. Good info.

  2. Cameron Parkhurst says

    Interesting. Not how I would do it, but there is always a disconnect between what an attorney thinks the client wants to know and what a client really wants to know. This guy likely hits what the client wants to know. How much? What will happen? And what do I have to do?

  3. Terrible taste? Yes. Tacky? For sure. Protected commercial speech? Absolutely.

  4. This is one of those situations where there are probably ethical rules already on the books to address this situation. In Louisiana, there is a rule against activity which “demeans the profession.” Certainly, a case can be made that this commercial “demeans the profession.” So I fail to see why there should be more ethical rules on the books to further complicate the lives of those who follow the rules. Enforce the rules we have, and if that doesn’t work, then come back to us about proposed new rules. If we enforce the rules we have, I think we will find that there is no need for new rules.

  5. I don’t like the video, but I like the idea of thinking outside the box when it comes to advertising. As long the advertisement complies with current ABA rules, I don’t see the need for additional rules.

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  1. […] It's true that social media gives lawyers even more ways to show their ignorance or lack of discretion. But that doesn't mean we need new rules restricting its use. So says Mr. O'Keefe and I agree, as I've written before. […]

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    This is WHY the ABA wants new rules to regulate online lawyer marketing – The Attorney Marketing Center