Beth Klein Boulder Attorney talks about Weaponized Lawyer Advertising.
In the legal profession, advertising lawyers have gone to extremes to acquire clients. And it is rather frightening to know that lawyers are simply following marketing techniques that are used to push the sale of nearly everything. It started in the 1970’s.
Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court upheld the right of lawyers to advertise their services. In holding that lawyer advertising was commercial speech entitled to protection under the First Amendment (incorporated against the States through the Fourteenth Amendment), the Court upset the tradition against advertising by lawyers, rejecting it as an antiquated rule of etiquette.
With this decision, lawyers began working with phone book advertising, billboards, radio, and TV. Who could out noise, out number and out size was the game. Strong arms, grizzlies, and rabid dogs became brands to get leads. And the warehouse law firm model was born. The back office with nameless paralegals in warehouses processing cases and the front office crunching productivity – churning cases and burning clients.
Childless lawyers hire child models to appear as their own kids for that “family man” image. Lawyers hire dancing-girls and target motorcycle riders at events with the vibe of Sons of Anarchy and sexual innuendo.
And then there are lawyers who are brutally honest about who they are:
Groups of lawyers fund national campaigns to acquire clients by pooling money for bigger ad buys. Telephone banks and auto mailings are created to receive calls, read scripts, and sign up clients. And then, clients are sold as commodities. There are private lawyer banks that fund the sale of blocks of clients.
Recently, lawyers have gotten into the email text, and behavioral data harvesting game. Your emails and face book posts and anything you click on-line are harvested for data analytics on behavior prediction. Google is not an electronic library index; it is a data collection company.
Ever notice how you might be searching for a product or emailing someone, and then all of the ads that you see are targeted toward your recent search and seem to have a connection with a recent email? Your data is being collected and used to predict your buying behavior.
But it gets worse. Some lawyers use marketing companies to text you directly if you are communicating about an illness, a product, or a death. This means that your internet carrier and phone company are harvesting your phone data and communicating directly through texts to your phone number.
And now there is a new frontier: voice ads talking through your home and intelligent personal assistant devices (like Siri). Google and Amazon are currently engaged in a battle over who will dominate the new voice-activated AI-enabled smart assistant market. Google Home can play information about new products through your house speakers.
But there are ways to fight back. Burger King launched an ad that would read out the benefits of Whoppers on AI smart assistants and home speakers. The script that the AI was to read was from Wikipedia. But annoyed consumers re-wrote the Wiki text. So that the AI assistant read that Whoppers were the worst burger and contained cyanide. The ad was pulled. And a least for a day, Siri was not reading about the benefits of a burger.
But soon Siri will be talking about the benefits of the pit bull attorney or the lawyers who “ride” and “hammer hard.” We can only hope that this script is changed, and that quality and mastery becomes what matters when hiring an attorney.