The Making of a Lawyer: Legal marketing gone wild!

Legal marketing is a relatively new concept by comparison to other industries. Because it was believed to be (and still is in many circles) beneath the profession, lawyer commercials were prohibited in the United States until the late 1970’s. It wasn’t until the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Bates v. Arizona,[1] affirming that advertising by attorneys is protected speech under the First Amendment, that legal marketing became permitted. However, legal marketing is still strictly regulated by state bar associations.

Since Bates became the law of the land in 1977, legal marketing has made incredible advancements! You cannot travel on the interstate system without being confronted by a billboard containing a picture of an attorney telling you to call them for legal advice! Mid-day television programs are now filled with wall-to-wall attorney commercials, offering to win you huge settlements for anything from car and big truck accidents, to the latest bad drug on the market.

I do not necessarily have a problem with attorneys marketing their services. Perhaps one day I’ll find the need to market my services on television. (I really don’t see that happening) I do, however find some of the marketing tactics of attorneys to be downright dishonorable to the profession that I will be entering in to!

Baton Rouge attorney, E. Eric Guirard became one of the highest profile personal injury attorneys in Louisiana. His shtick, “Get the ‘E’ Guaranty!” is likely known by every household in the state of Louisiana. Guirard mastered the legal marketing game with the best of the best! His advertisements were entertaining at best, brazen at worst! (I am certain that they were within the guidelines of the Louisiana Bar Association.)

In 2009, E. Eric Guirard and one of his partners were disbarred from the practice of law by the Louisiana Supreme Court for infractions that were unrelated to his marketing practices.[2] He was reinstated by the Louisiana Supreme Court in 2016.

Since his reinstatement, Guirard has returned to his larger-than-life advertising practices. In an article published by the Baton Rouge newspaper, The Advocate, the author detailed a lawsuit filed against Guirard by Gordon McKernan, another high-profile attorney in Baton Rouge for a commercial released mocking his popular commercial.[3] Guirard’s commercial depicts an attorney intended to look like McKernan falling from the top of a tractor trailer and injuring himself. At the end of the commercial, Guirard says, “Don’t fall for a Copy Cat! Get an original!” Additionally, the commercial has a disclaimer stating, “No real lawyers were hurt while filming this commercial.”

Although these antics are slightly humorous, it is arguably distasteful and dishonorable for an attorney to market in this manner. When attorneys begin bashing other attorneys in the market square, and lawsuits begin flying into the courts, the legal profession suffers the embarrassment of looking like a “Gone Wild” parody of itself!

[1] Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350, 97 S.Ct. 2691, 53 L.Ed.2d 810 (1977)

[2] In re Guirard, 2008-2621 (La. 5/5/09), 11 So.3d 1017, reinstatement granted, 2016-0397 (La. 4/22/16), 192 So.3d 723

[3] Gyan, J. (2017, July 5). Spat between lawyers Gordon McKernan, E. Eric Guirard over mocking ad lands in federal court. The Advocate. Retrieved from http://www.theadvocate.com

 

 

 

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