Advertising Tactics & Gimmicks
Note: The Nevada State Bar has many rules about lawyer advertising, but does not have the resources to fully police lawyer advertising, especially on the internet.
We believe you will find many misleading advertising claims on the web. If a lawyer advertises "half price" or "discount" you need to carefully read any contract you sign to see if the discount will apply to your specific case. If the lawyer claims to be "best" in some area, you should ask what certification process determined that. Other lawyer ads are completely truthful but state the obvious. For example, almost all personal injury cases are handled on "no fee unless we win" basis.
When a law firm advertises that it sues drunk drivers what it is really saying is, "Cases against drunk drivers are often bigger money cases that involve less work." So instead of being attracted to a "We Sue Drunk Drivers" ad, think about the fact that you have an easier case and should be paying a smaller contingency fee.
At Reed & Mansfield we offer you a discount contingency fee of 25% if the police cite someone else for the collision and not you or if you were a passenger and were not feeding your driver alcohol. Low Fee for Favorable Police Report Cases.
View the article titled Accident Involving A Drunk Driver for more information
Some personal injury firms take the "high road" and instead of simply pitching themselves they do "public service" announcements against drunk driving or texting and driving. We prefer to pass these advertising savings onto our clients and provide a 25% contingency fee if there is a police report blaming someone else. Low Fee for Favorable Police Report Cases.
This is the standard practice for personal injury cases.
Many law firms promise to send someone to your home or hospital if you are hurt and it would be difficult for you to get to the law office. Ask whether the person who will come to your home or hospital is a lawyer or not. Typically, law firms send a non-lawyer called an "investigator," "para-legal" or "case manager." This person has a sales pitch, but this person has not conducted trials and cannot practically or legally answer questions about your case involving legal advice.
In fact the Nevada State Bar takes the position that the initiation of a contract for legal services must always be made by a lawyer; it cannot be made by a paralegal, investigator, or case manager. If a law firm sends a non-lawyer to visit you in the hospital or your home this means two things:
- If you signed a contract with that person the contract in not legally binding. (However, if you continue for weeks or months to let the law firm represent you, then it will be harder to void the contact
- A Law Firm that sends a non-lawyer to sign up a client is not behaving ethically.
The Nevada State Bar does not allow lawyers to claim to be specialists unless the Nevada State Bar has a Specialty Certification in that field. At the current time there are no Nevada State Bar specialty certifications in Personal Injury, Car Accidents or Products Liability. A lawyer who says he is a personal injury specialist is violating the Nevada Rules of Professional Responsibility. Print advertising must be submitted to the state bar. Online advertising need not be. Therefore, online advertising is less supervised by the State Bar.
Of course, a lawyer is free to say that he or she does a lot of a particular kind of work. Here's a tip for independently verifying whether a Las Vegas lawyer does a lot of work in your type of case: go to the website of the District Court for Clark County and search for cases by attorney name. (Personal injury cases and will be found under "District Court" and then "Civil Case.") If you actually go the Courthouse you can view online all the documents filed in these cases. Or, if you are hurt, for example, by a defective produce and a lawyer says that he or she is specialist in such cases, ask the lawyer to name courts and case numbers of defective products cases he or she has filed. Of course, a good lawyer can handle a variety of cases including cases of a new type to that lawyer, but the lawyer should be candid about prior experience and you can check the public record to verify the lawyer's claim of prior experience with a particular type of case.
Sometimes in TV shows or movies an aggressive, successful attorney seems to display the toughness of a well dressed thug. The lawyer demands a certain settlement and the other side gives in. In real life aggressive representation means very hard, unglamorous work studying the facts and law of a case from every angle until you can make a convincing case for your client in simple language.
One of the legendary attorneys from Las Vegas's past was Morton Galane, a bookish, nerdy, workaholic guy I interviewed with for a job when I came to Las Vegas. You can read an obituary on him if you Google "Morton Galane Las Vegas." This was a lawyer other lawyers always respected as an adversary. His toughness was his preparation and work ethic, not his cockiness.
Real life insurance companies don't pay out big bucks to a lawyer with a big mouth; they pay out big bucks to a lawyer they are convinced can sell a big verdict to a jury based on the facts of the case and the convincing way the lawyer can present those facts. For example, in a brain damage case, has the attorney hired a top neurologist to explain why the brain damage is so severe and permanent? Or is the lawyer just relying on the existing medical records that indicate some brain damage but don't really explain if it will be permanent?
If you are making cars, you need economies of scale. To be a giant car company you need to advertise. If you remain a super small niche car company you end up selling cars that aren't a very good value proposition but may be valued by the minority of people who will pay more to be different.
Personal injury law and every other kind of law is just the opposite. Law is a service business. There are no economies of scale. One lawyer cannot be conducting two trials at the same time or be talking to two clients at the same time. Each client who has been in an auto accident has a ton of questions that require careful answers. Each injury claim is different. So spending a bunch of money on billboards and tv ads to get a lot of clients doesn't mean each client needs less attention. Instead, spending a ton of money on tv ads and billboards often means that the law firm has to cut back on service to compensate for this expense. The service cut back means hiring non-lawyers to interface with the clients since non-lawyers can be paid less. Such non-lawyers are often called "case managers" because "manager" sounds important. The qualifications to be a "case manager" are whatever the hiring firm feels like. Do you want your case run by a lawyer or by someone with no qualifications?