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September 3, 2003

Contingency Fees Inspire Ever More Lawyer Advertising — Auto Accidents to Product Recalls

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:02 am

The Recorder (via Law.ComNewswire) reports that “lawyers spent $311.3 million on television commercials in 2002, a 75 percent increase from the $177.2 million spent in 1999.”   (Regularly Scheduled Programming, by Alexei Oreskovic, 09-03-03).   


Although national  “auto accident” p/i mills still predominate, the article points out the increased use of tv ads by class action firms seeking clients who have used drugs or other products that have been recalled.   The pro’s and con’s of such marketing (and the merits of the resulting cases) are discussed, along with the changing nature of the ads themselves, and the different strategy behind the new class action ads.  As the Recorder notes:

The spots are a world apart from the earlier generation of lawyer ads, which were often amateurish productions — featuring the actual attorneys touting their law firms. The ads were primarily targeted at individual auto accident victims.

By contrast, today’s typical commercial is a short, informational clip that focuses on a specific product or piece of litigation, with the name of the law firm appearing almost incidentally.

I was struck by one quote: 

“You can’t say there’s one group of lawyers or types of lawyers doing the advertising” anymore, says William Audet, a partner at San Jose, Calif.’s Alexander, Hawes & Audet, which recently launched its first television commercials.

While I agree that class action recall specialists are quite different than fender-bender/slip-and-fall lawyers, there is still one general characteristic that fits virtually all lawyer tv advertising:   The firms use contingency fees exclusively (and they never mention the percentage amount of the fee).   


What can we make of the fact that tv advertising is very expensive, and that only lawyers who charge contingency fees use the medium?   Are the p/i firms acting irrationally?   Are they extremely altruistic?   If not, we have to assume that contingency fee cases are so rewarding financially that they are worth the investment — the risk — in large tv advertising campaigns, while hourly fee matters are not.


What does that tell us about contingency fee cases in general?  curiousEsq wants to know.

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