Republished here in its entirety with the permission of the author, Richard A DiLIberto, Jr, Esquire, from the Winter/Spring edition of the Advocate, a publication of the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association:
INJURED IN THE PAST 30 DAYS?
$500 REFERRAL FEE*!
TURN THAT WRECK
INTO A CHECK!
AUTO ACCIDENT &
WORK INJURIES ONLY
*MUST MEET REFERRAL CRITERIA.
This advertisement, emblazoned in vibrant hues of blue, red and yellow appeared on a billboard high above 4th & King Streets in Wilmington. It included a photo of fanned $20.00 bills in a tightly gripped fist. It was directly adjacent to the New Castle County Courthouse, and in plain view for jurors at the Courthouse performing their services. The billboard also gave a toll-free number and website, but did not identify a lawyer or law firm. The website claims to refer people to experienced Delaware personal injury lawyers as well as healthcare professionals. It has many of us disappointed and frustrated.
I cannot imagine how ads such as this do not harm our image, perhaps irreparably, and even poison the jury pool against our clients. Your DTLA Board of Governors and Legislative Committee members have a Herculean task trying to improve our image and maintain credibility with the public and elected officials. DTLA Boards and Committees labored for 27 years before us to build our reputation and good will. Crass lawyer advertising can undo years of work and goodwill in the blink of an eye (or the glance at a billboard).
Everything we do and say no matter where or when we do or say it reflects on each of us. We are always lawyers. We are never 'off duty.' When we scream at the Little League umpire for making a 'bad call;' insult the waitress; fail to hold the door open for an elderly man; or exhibit rudeness to the janitor, we do it with the title 'lawyer.' And people notice. And people talk about it. Some of those people wind up on our juries. Many talk with their elected officials.
I am not advocating for eliminating lawyer advertising. Many members do it, and do it with dignity. But, we must put ourselves 'in the shoes' of the public, and imagine the reaction, not only to the ad, but to the profession.
Ads which trivialize our important duties, and cheapen or belittle our clients' tragedies, are an insult and an embarrassment to us all. And while some may reap short term gain from a few cases received via the ads, each of us, and our clients, pay an immeasurably long-term price in return.