Is the Size of the Lawyer's Ad (or the amount of its 'tough talk') Inversely Proportionate to the Lawyer's Skill?
I am an advertising attorney, like nearly every other attorney out there. Attorneys spend a TON of money advertising in the phone book, on TV and radio. So, I frequently do look at, or listen to, ad's put out by other attorneys. With all due respect, I often end up laughing at, or worse, embarrassed by, some lawyers' ad's.
Many attorneys' ad's boast that the attorney is "tough", or "aggressive", and/or "will fight for you." But are you hiring an attorney or a professional wrestler? Such attorneys sometimes craft ad's that portray themselves as feared or revered by the opponent. You may have seen the one where the attorney brags that some defeated--and, conveniently, anonymous--prosecutor had congratulated the attorney for being so great in court; or the one where two insurances adjusters privately confess that they "better settle fast" now that attorney so-and-so is handling the case. I don't even have to go into the "Denny Crane" ad's. The bigger the city, the more the competition, the more desperate these ad's get. If you are considering hiring an attorney based upon "tough talk", consider this:
Jim "The Hammer" Shapiro, was an attorney from Rochester, New York. He owned three law firms, and he claimed in his fantastic ad's to be "the meanest, nastiest S.O.B. in town" with "aggressive courtroom prowess". He reportedly even sold T-shirts that read: "Protected by Vicious S.O.B., Jim The Hammer Shapiro." This guy must have been a fierce trial attorney, right? In fact, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, later found this big-talking lawyer "never tried a case to its conclusion". HE NEVER EVEN TRIED A CASE!
Don't let your desire to win cloud your common sense. Cases are handled by human beings on both sides. Just like you, the people on the other side of your case expect to be treated with a certain amount of respect. Prosecutors, judges, insurance adjusters, and attorneys on the other side of your case are not likely to cave in just because your attorney is a bully. The opposite result is more likely: A jerk attorney can cause the other side to dig in and refuse to be reasonable, hurting your case, costing you time, and, perhaps, a lot more money. Not very smart at all.
You want an attorney who is SMART, and who is a CREDIBLE threat. Such attorney is willing to try cases, and has the skill to pull out a victory, even when it looks doubtful. That reputation will speak for itself. You want an attorney who will be very resolute, but who will also choose battles carefully and not turn everyone against you with a "flamethrower" approach to litigation. That kind of attorney will make the OTHER side look bad if THEY are not reasonable. When it comes to good lawyering, being smart may be twice as good as being "tough".
Think about what a lawyer's ad might really be saying about the lawyer before you dial those digits.