In this video, Marcus Michles explains why lawyer advertising is a poor tool to use in determining the best personal injury lawyer and gives advice on how to pick the best lawyer for your needs. Below the video is a formatted transcript of the video.
The Role of Lawyer Advertising in Picking a Personal Injury Lawyer
Hi, I’m Marcus and welcome to this week’s edition of our video blog here at Michles and Booth. I want to talk to you about lawyer advertising today.
That’s okay, you can admit it. You can’t get enough us in our ads. In truth, there so much of it it’s just hard to cut through it all and, as a business, we want to get our name out there; we want to get our words out there and try to get the business that keeps us going but a lot of people don’t realize in Florida how regulated the process is; and it has really become kind of a pain in the neck not only as a business person but as a lawyer.
And you know, it may just be me, but doesn’t seem like there’s more and more kinda tough-guy lawyer advertising? A kind of a righteous indignation, I’m gonna beat you up kinda thing and I’m for justice, good versus evil. Okay, that could be.
I guess if you look around my office, you’ll see where I’ve been; and you can read my biography and understand my background. I played a lot a rugby, and I’m was in the military and so I know a little bit about physical conflict. Very little of that has anything to do however in my 27 year career as a lawyer.
Its a lot more about brains than it is about bronze; so when I see the sort of “tough guy I’m gonna beat you up” commercials, you know, I wonder if really that’s the message we should be sending. Not that I’m the moral conscience of our profession but I can tell you this – the Florida bar regulates advertising, in my opinion, in all the wrong ways.
It’s really concerned about the word choices, and it’s really concerned about dumbing the ad down where you really can’t say anything. And [it’s worried] less about monitoring the conduct of certain lawyers in in the way they present themselves and images they portray. You know, living here in the Panhandle, Florida lawyers suffer a tremendous disadvantage in that lawyers, that are just over the border if they practice in Mobile or in Alabama, are not subject to the same rules that govern advertising; so you can turn on your television and you can see listed ads from certain lawyers that have no regulation and, at the same time, other lawyers that have tremendous regulation.
You know, just about every commercial I’ve ever made or just about every advertisement I’ve ever made has not only been approved, had to be submitted to the Florida Bar but I had to pay them to review it. And then they kinda mess with that a little bit and at the end of the day the commercial ends up sounding like everybody else is and that’s why you look at the ads and you hate them so much, they really don’t tell you anything.
Shopping for a Personal Lawyer: The Right Way
The thing that I would tell people about shopping for lawyer this: you have less information to compare professional services than you do when selecting a washing machine.
If you want to select a washing machine you can read about how many cycles it has and how much capacity it has; you can read empirical data that allows you to compare that one washing machine to another washing machine.
But how are you going to compare me and my services to another lawyer? You can’t look at my miles per gallon, 0 to 60 time, what my resale value is; there’s no Popular Mechanics formula for measuring lawyers so you know there’s no substitute for the very simple fundamental and that is your instinct.
Sit down with the lawyer that you are considering; sit down with the law firm that you are considering. Take the time to interview that lawyer and find out whether they are the right fit for you.
Now, I can’t say that in yesterday’s case that I resolved, I can’t measure that case against the lawyer down the street who would have a different case I can’t measure apples to apples in terms of my results very difficult to do.
One Fundamental Question to Ask
Ask your lawyer simple fundamental questions: When was the last time he took the case to a trial and got a jury verdict in a case like yours? It’s a simple question asking him the name of that case; its public record […]; it’s not a conflict of interest; it’s not a divulgence of […] client confidence. It’s filed in the courthouse; it’s a public record. Ask them when the last time they went to the courthouse was and tried a case to a jury like yours.
Now don’t misunderstand me, not all cases go to trial that’s true; very few actually go to trial; it’s a very low percentage. But if you can’t ultimately fight that case out in the courtroom, the insurance company doesn’t have any real incentive to make you a fair offer before you get to the court. So all that tough talk and all that you know righteous indignation I’m gonna beat up the insurance company, it’s fun to do; it’s fun to say but ask that lawyer when the last time was he’d beat that insurance company up in the courtroom and you know what go online.
The index to the court pleading is right there. Find out which law firm filed which law suit; if you’re […] considering lawyer A and lawyer A is in a law firm, you can go to the county clerks website and search by that lawyers name and you can see how many cases they have filed in the courthouse. You can see how many cases they’ve won or lost in the courthouse; you can do your homework.
And you know what, you can ask the lawyer to do that homework for you. Now they’ll have a lot of explanations perhaps as to why they don’t go to the courthouse one; one of the great ones is they get to settle those cases; they settle cases; they don’t have to go to the courthouse because they’re getting fair offers for all their clients.
Well, mathematically at some point you have to ask yourself if you represent 50 clients and none of those cases end up at the courthouse, you got fair offers in 50 out of 50 cases? Kinda of unlikely right? The laws of mathematics and probability would probably lead you to conclude one or two certainly there was a dispute about the value, right?
Do Your Research; Don’t Rely on Advertisements.
My point is this: lawyer advertising has a place; it probably needs regulation to a certain degree. We get a lot of it; we all of regulation; okay, so we deal with that. When you see these lawyers advertisements though, ask yourself how easy is it to say those things and what what verification is offered for those things?
Here’s the thing, at Michles & Booth, we’ve been in business a long time; we’ve represent our clients one at a time as best we can. When there’s fighting to be done, we roll our sleeves up and we do the fighting. I work for a gentleman named Colonel Dietrich once who had a great way of putting it. He said, “Every day we don’t go to war gives us one more day to sharpen our hatchets boys.”
So the better you are trying cases and the more experienced you are in the courthouse, directly impact the likelihood that an insurance company will make a reasonable offer to our clients; we look at every case with with that particular client’s best interest in mind.
We have lots of ads, lots of advertisements, that are really just a way of saying,”Hey, we’re here. We’d would like to help you if you need our help, if where the right law firm for you. And that’s not true in every instance and that’s not true in every case.
Next Week’s Topic: “Conflict of Interest”
Come back next week, I’m gonna talk about conflict of interest and what a big lie that really is to the public. Conflict of interest is pretty easily defined but it’s something that lawyers throw out there when they really don’t want to handle the case and when they really don’t want to you don’t have a very good case so until next week.
Marcus Michles at Michles & Booth, thanks.