lerach“It’s no fun being in prison. You are away from your family, your loved ones and your dogs.” – Disbarred strike-suit attorney William Lerach upon being released from prison.

Even more ubiquitous than erectile dysfunction spots are television advertisements for personal injury attorneys, trolling for oodles of plaintiffs.

Can a “deep pocket” target be far behind? A pharmaceutical company? An insurance agency? A medical-equipment manufacturer? A butcher, baker and/or candle stick maker?

No one argues the constitutional rights for ambulance chasers … err … personal injury lawyers to advertise – that legal question was settled by the Big Court in 1977 in its Bates vs. State Bar of Arizona decision. Yes, lawyers are people too, and believe it or not they have the same First Amendment rights of free speech.

The question pertains to how is this free speech applied, and what do ambulance-chaser television and internet ads say about the august legal profession?

The Most Important PR of All

Night-after-night Americans, particularly watching lower-ad rate cable television shows, are treated to a treasure trove of personal attorney ads.


These mostly standard-definition spots are evidently working, particularly in the face of median incomes declining in the past six years. People are looking for money just to make ends meet, and warm and cuddly personal injury attorneys are willing to help, supposedly free of charge.

In reality, they are combing the broadcast airwaves and cyberspace searching for clients that can be added to class-action lawsuits. The ultimate goal is to secure a huge “settlement” with a deep pocket with the hundreds of plaintiffs dividing 50 percent of the judgment, and the other half going to the personal injury firm.

They instinctively know that corporations are fearful of jury trials since they are not popular with the ma’s and pa’s that make up the jury pool. In some respects, the company is left with little or no choice, but to knash their collective teeth and settle.

This particular predatory practice (e.g., racket) is not new to the American public, but keep in mind these television and cyberspace advertisements – some worse than others – are a huge- and-constant reminder about why attorneys are not revered in this country.

If one considers that personal public relations is the most vital public relations/reputation management of all, then one must question the “strategy” behind these ads. Or if the image of the profession is not important, then just allow money to be the deciding factor.

Shyster & Shyster, LLP

The practice of combing the weeds for plaintiffs became an art-form for one notorious New York firm in particular: Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach LLP. This notorious firm shook down a reported $45 billion from corporations mainly by means of securities litigation suits.


However, four of its partners, including Melvyn Weiss and William Lerach, were convicted and sentenced to prison for funneling money to intermediaries to pay clients to serve as plaintiffs. The name of the game is to be first to the courthouse door. Milberg Weiss paid fines totaling $75 million.

The practice of buying plaintiffs is over or better be over. The art of using conventional and online media to unearth litigants is crossing American TV and computer screens on a nightly basis.perrymason

What do these ads say about the legal profession? Growing up many of us (those mature enough to remember) think about Perry Mason (played by Burt Ives), a television criminal defense lawyer, standing up for the little guy.

So-called personal injury lawyers state they are standing up for the little guy too, but not by playing defense but going on offense instead. Their actions are aimed at the deep pockets of those who achieve and provide products, services and disease-curing/life-saving drugs. They do not remind Almost DailyBrett of Perry Mason.

An old-adage comes to mind, particularly when it is 10-degrees outside:

“It is so cold that even the personal injury lawyers are keeping their hands in their own pockets.”