Biggest Dogs?
November 16, 2018 4:47 PM   Subscribe

Every city I visit seems to have a lot of commercials from a single law firm. Should I assume that the attorneys that can afford to air a lot of commercials get the biggest settlements or take the most cases? Contacting the Bar Association can seem hit or miss since they don't toot any one firm's' horn. If someone brags on themselves with a lot of ads, are they necessarily more successful?
posted by CollectiveMind to Law & Government (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
in my experience it means that they can't count on business coming in by referral.
posted by fingersandtoes at 4:58 PM on November 16, 2018 [12 favorites]

It just means they spend a lot on marketing.

Companies that spend a lot on marketing necessarily spend less on actually providing whatever product or service they are in business to provide. Going heavy on broad-spectrum advertisements is certainly one strategy that can lead to business success, but it's not the only strategy—fingersandtoes mentions a referral-based strategy, which is kind of the opposite of this and is also a viable option.

It's not a strategy that has much to do with how well they are serving their clients, unlike a referral-based strategy which relies on making your clients really happy so that they recommend you to people they know. It's a pretty faceless, impersonal way of attracting customers and doesn't require one to actually have a strong relationship with one's clients.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:06 PM on November 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

Quite controversially, in Toronto, the firms that do the most advertising turned out not to take cases many of the cases. They were essentially pulling in referral fees.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:09 PM on November 16, 2018 [8 favorites]

Never equate "richest" with "best."
posted by BostonTerrier at 5:41 PM on November 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Do you assume the discount furniture outlet (Our prices are going downer Downer DOWNER! You Always get a free onion!!! ) sells the most or best furniture?
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:44 PM on November 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

It depends how you define "law" (and "city" for that matter) but if I wanted to know which law firms had the most clout in a decent-sized city I'd see who's sponsoring the local concert hall / art museum / NPR station / fancy downtown redevelopment project. Or has understated ads in the gates of the local airport.

The Bob Loblaws who advertise on billboards and TV/radio are advertising to people who think that what Bob Loblaw does constitutes "being a lawyer" -- in part because those people have more exposure to Law & Order and Bob Loblaw adverts than to lawyers who are not Bob Loblaw.
posted by holgate at 6:43 PM on November 16, 2018 [3 favorites]

Some “firms” operate with similar principles as real estate and insurance agents. The firm is marketing services that’ll actually be handed off to quasi-independent lawyers/agents that’ll earn most of the fees and take most of the risk. The company takes a share to continue marketing and developing leads.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:15 PM on November 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

No, it really depends on the kind of service.

There are some areas of the law where you do a fairly mass-volume practice pulling directly from the general public. For such practices--personal injury, disability, immigration--it makes some sense to advertise broadly. Most people won't be coming to you with a referral; they find they have a problem and they have no way to evaluate lawyers, so...Unlike what others are implying here, this doesn't mean that they're necessarily either bad or shady, though of course they can be. It just means they're marketing themselves directly the way other service providers do, to potential clients who maybe don't even know that the service could help them.

But of the truly big firms in my city I can think of exactly one that advertised anywhere the normal public might see it, and they were roundly mocked and judged therefor. These are the firms that handle the big litigations between companies, the really big class action suits (where corporations injured many many people), mergers and acquisitions, big real estate deals, etc. Those do come in either through referral or through other forms of solicitation. Those firms have no interest in the average kind of person who rides the subway as clients. We can't afford them.
posted by praemunire at 9:13 PM on November 16, 2018 [6 favorites]

I've known good lawyers whose only ads are ABA listings, and I've known good lawyers who plastered their face on a bus. I've also known some not so great attorneys in both categories. (Some of the best I know don't even have a website, much less an ad budget!)

Some areas of practice involve clients who aren't likely to be able to solicit friends and acquaintances for recommendations, some most decidedly do not.

All of this is to say that no, the volume of advertising you see is no indication of anything except that they exist and that the contact information listed in the advertising is more likely than not correct.
posted by wierdo at 12:19 AM on November 17, 2018

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