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  #1  
Old 01-29-2013, 01:34 PM
antonio107 antonio107 is offline
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American Lawyers: are the TV lawyers as sleazy as I think they are?

So, as a few of you on here know, I'm in Canadian law school. There's the odd personal injury lawyer who advertises on the TV up there, but nothing like what I see when I come down to Florida.

In the hour since my mom started watching her soap opera/ the news, at least six different law firms have advertised, offering me BIG CASH MONEY if I got in a car accident, or took some kinda pill the FDA has since pulled. They have CGI crash dummies and sultry models advertising, yet the one who takes the cake had a selling point that goes, "If you want the big settlement, you need a REAL LAWYER. I'm a REAL LAWYER!"

It's all very laughable from my vantage point. I'm of course coloured by the general (unwarranted) snobbiness Canadians have of the American legal system, and the cynical John Grisham novels I've read since high schools. I somehow picture the American "TV Lawyers" to be straight C students from a correspondence diploma mill; to be thoroughly unpleasant human beings and complete moral reprobates (yes, insert lawyer joke here...).

TLDR: have you met/worked/dealt with these people in real life? Are they the complete assholes I assume they are? Or were you surprised by their legal acumen, and consummate professionalism?
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  #2  
Old 01-29-2013, 01:44 PM
Procrustus Procrustus is offline
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Most of the TV advertisers I have met are not good lawyers. They are good marketers. (if good = effective). One of the big national firms actually does a good job in trying to get their cases to good local lawyers. Others don't. The respectable members of the bar look down on those that advertise on TV, at least with the type of commercials you mention. The feeling is that they are just "litigation mills" that do such a volume of cases that they can't put enough resources into their cases, or be a credible threat to go to trial. Thus, they settle for less than full value. Some have paralegals do all the work-up. I'm sure there are exceptions, but your view of this segment of the bar is widely held.
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  #3  
Old 01-29-2013, 01:47 PM
bump bump is offline
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Here in Texas anyway, a lot of them are run of the mill personal injury lawyers. I don't think they're necessarily incompetent; here at least, they have to have gone to an accredited law school and passed the bar, neither of which is a trivial task.

However, their primary business is basically suing people on behalf of someone who is ostensibly injured, and raking their cut out of the settlements, so interpret that as you will.
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  #4  
Old 01-29-2013, 01:59 PM
Procrustus Procrustus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post

However, their primary business is basically suing people on behalf of someone who is ostensibly injured, and raking their cut out of the settlements, so interpret that as you will.
Many fine attorneys make their living this way and don't do sleazy TV ads.
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  #5  
Old 01-29-2013, 09:54 PM
bump bump is offline
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Yeah, but the sleaziness isn't in the ads, it's in how and what they do within the legal system.

I maintain that it's sleazy to sue entirely with the intention to extort a settlement from some deep pocketed defendant, especially if you're working on contingency, regardless of how you market yourself.
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  #6  
Old 01-29-2013, 10:25 PM
antonio107 antonio107 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
Yeah, but the sleaziness isn't in the ads, it's in how and what they do within the legal system.

I maintain that it's sleazy to sue entirely with the intention to extort a settlement from some deep pocketed defendant, especially if you're working on contingency, regardless of how you market yourself.
Well, if it's on a contingency basis, and your argument is that there's zero legwork in a quickie settlement, then maybe. Besides that, I don't see what's wrong with hitting a rich defendant for a settlement.

My issue with the TV lawyers, as I understand them, is the combination of 1) Actively seeking out human misery; 2) Marketing yourself with the same panache as someone selling used cars or tickets to Monster Jam; and 3) PROMISING rather unsophisticated clients a big payout. It's basically all the worst stereotypes about lawyers wrapped into living breathing human beings.

I'm told that the legal profession in my locale is exceptionally tight-knit and collegial, and that "sharp counsel" gets you a reputation reallll quick. I can't imagine the hell of trying to hammer a negotiation with Jim "The Hammer" Shapiro. Seriously; this guy decided to give himself a wrestler's nickname!
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  #7  
Old 01-29-2013, 10:46 PM
AK84 AK84 is online now
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Lawyers are permitted to advertise on TV?
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  #8  
Old 01-29-2013, 11:11 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Originally Posted by AK84 View Post
Lawyers are permitted to advertise on TV?
Don't you have a TV?
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  #9  
Old 01-29-2013, 11:35 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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AK84 might not be watching during the prime time for lawyers, which is after midnight.
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  #10  
Old 01-29-2013, 11:46 PM
Aspidistra Aspidistra is offline
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...or on the same continent as the tv ads...
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  #11  
Old 01-30-2013, 09:40 AM
JuliaSqueezer JuliaSqueezer is offline
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I served on a jury a few years ago for a trial that lasted 3 days. I won't go into details; just to say it was a personal injury case.

When my fellow jurors and I began deliberations, and at various recess times, we would be all "does this guy (plaintiff's attorney) really believe his own line of BS? How stupid does he think we are?" His request for damages was ridiculous and he failed to prove any injury. The judge was a master of fairness and showed no favor to either side, at least that we could discern.

When it was over and we had decided in favor of the defendant, the judge came and told us he agreed with our decision and advised us that the lawyer was a part of one of the biggest sleazy local television advertising firms. The plaintiff had previously refused a reasonable settlement based on promises of a big payoff from the sleazy tv lawyers, and ended up with nothing.
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  #12  
Old 01-30-2013, 09:59 AM
bump bump is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by antonio107 View Post
Well, if it's on a contingency basis, and your argument is that there's zero legwork in a quickie settlement, then maybe. Besides that, I don't see what's wrong with hitting a rich defendant for a settlement.

My issue with the TV lawyers, as I understand them, is the combination of 1) Actively seeking out human misery; 2) Marketing yourself with the same panache as someone selling used cars or tickets to Monster Jam; and 3) PROMISING rather unsophisticated clients a big payout. It's basically all the worst stereotypes about lawyers wrapped into living breathing human beings.

I'm told that the legal profession in my locale is exceptionally tight-knit and collegial, and that "sharp counsel" gets you a reputation reallll quick. I can't imagine the hell of trying to hammer a negotiation with Jim "The Hammer" Shapiro. Seriously; this guy decided to give himself a wrestler's nickname!
I think we're saying the same thing, only that the sleazy part isn't the advertising, per-se, it's their business model. Seeking misery and/or people looking to make a quick buck off minor injuries, and then trying to squeeze those with deep pockets for a settlement because they want out of court is sleazy, however you advertise yourself.

My wife used to be a worker's comp. defendant's attorney and ran into these guys all the time- quite a few were in the business of basically finding a minor workers' comp injury and then getting sleazy doctors and (more often) chiropractors to claim that the injuries were debilitating and disabling, and then trying to squeeze the insurance companies and/or workplace for a settlement, despite normal and customary medical practice saying that these guys should be fine.

The idea was that even if they were borderline fraudulent, companies would settle rather than fight it out. Very much legal extortion in a sense.
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  #13  
Old 01-30-2013, 10:21 AM
Kobal2 Kobal2 is offline
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Originally Posted by antonio107 View Post
I somehow picture the American "TV Lawyers" to be straight C students from a correspondence diploma mill; to be thoroughly unpleasant human beings and complete moral reprobates (yes, insert lawyer joke here...)
Seriously, when the going gets tough you don't want a criminal lawyer, all right ? You want a criminal lawyer. You know what I'm saying ?

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  #14  
Old 01-30-2013, 10:29 AM
The Great Sun Jester The Great Sun Jester is offline
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IANAL but I have to work with these cats all the time. Most of the TV accident attorneys run what we call "claim mills." Basically, their clients are grist that provide income for the lawyer and a group of medical types--usually a chiropracter, an orthopedist, an accupuncturist and sometimes even a shrink. Their work product is fairly predictable: accident happens, victim calls the attorney, attorney absolutely in no way refers the victim to the chiro, who says this is the worst case of cervical(neck, git yer mind outta the gutter) soft tissue injury he's ever seen and it's going to take an extensive course in chiropracty to relieve the symptoms. Occasionally the shrink will chime in and say yup, there's some post traumatic stress disorder and driving anxiety here as well, and that's going to interfere with the physical healing...and they make this big (expensive) snowball around the victim who is told all the while, "The insurance company will pay all the medical bills and give you a big fat bag of money for all the pain and suffering this accident has caused you." Meanwhile, I evaluate the case based on the evidence of injury, mechanism for injury, and what I've seen juries award as "reasonable" in similar cases. That works out to a sum that, whether I like it or not, pays the lawyer and the "doctors" and leaves the victim twice-victimized. I get challenged occasionally, and 90% of the time the jury is a lot stingier than I am. In the other cases the jury is a LOT closer to my number than the plaintiff ever demanded.

That said, there are some people who need a lawyer to set realistic expectations, explain the claim process to them because the victim doesn't believe me, or maybe they're just too busy/out of their depth to present their case in an organized manner that makes a particular settlement sensible. Oddly, those layers don't advertise on TV and, when an impasse leads to suit, they embark on the process in good faith and with a sense of genuine curiosity about what the jury will do. They still don't beat my offer, but at least their cases aren't obvious BS.

Last edited by The Great Sun Jester; 01-30-2013 at 10:32 AM..
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  #15  
Old 01-30-2013, 02:02 PM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
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These "TV Lawyer" ads usually include a disclaimer (fine print)..that "your case" will be "referred" to an affiliate attorney. The guy on TV essentially functions as a booking agent for a whole bunch of law offices..in my area, Jim Sokolove does the bulk of these ads-he gets a cut of whatever settlement that affiliate is able to obtain. In the main, medical malpractice and accident lawsuits are pretty formulaic-most times, the defendant settles without ever gong to court. Its a good business when you sue organizations that "self insure" (like NYC), and the payout comes out of public funds.
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