It will come as no shock to anyone reading this that the legal profession does not have a stellar reputation in most people’s eyes. This goes double for trial attorneys. And triple for personal injury attorneys. I often think about why that is?
There is much that could be said about the impact of the bad apples; Michael Avenatti did us no favors by his very public and egregious misconduct. Our depiction on television isn’t always stellar. And then there is the decades long “tort reform” spin campaign by big business and insurance industry designed to poison public opinion.
But putting those things aside, I think that the way attorneys advertise their services is a big part of why people despise them. This is particularly true for attorneys who, like myself, practice personal injury.
For starters, in New Jersey, there are actually pretty strict limitations on advertising. We are not allowed to call compare ourselves to other attorneys, make specific statements about our skill or experience, or even provide testimonials or past achievements without disclaimers. That is why there is not that much substantive information provided in attorney spots on television or the radio.
That doesn’t stop some lawyers from making some advertisements that are in really poor taste. Based on the restrictions against naming names, I wont point fingers. But we’ve all seen the kind of cringeworthy television advertisement I’m talking about.
But I think there is a problem that goes deeper than that. Whether its someone being hurt in a car accident, losing a limb on a fishing vessel, being paralyzed on a construction site, or being sexually assaulted no one needs a personal injury attorneys’ help until things have already gone bad.
My experience is that no one thinks that bad things can happen to them until they do. There’s nothing wrong with that. Its how we walk around everyday without being paralyzed by fear. So no one wants to think about ever needing a lawyer who does what I do.
How do you advertise for that without it appearing that you want bad things to happen, or at a best you are happy when they do. I am not sure that you can.
The best I have come up with is to keep trying and hope that I get through to people two things. One, I bad things never happen to you or anyone you care about. Two, I’ve got the skills to have your back if they ever do.
And if that ends up guiding one more person to me for my help even one person down the line, its worth a little bit of cringe along the way?