Denver Bar Association
February 2002
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The Marketing of Legal Services

by Dennis Walker


Make sure to read the fine print.

By Dennis Walker

Every day we hear and see promotions followed by rushed disclaimers. Footnotes flash by at incomprehensible speeds. Fast talkers reduce the all important "limitations" to gibberish. They cut down the cost per minute for advertisers, but they rarely enlighten listeners about the important "catch." An attractive cell phone deal draws you in, but you only learn later that you are stuck with three years of monthly payments.

Practitioners want to promote their services by displaying their talents. Lawyers hope to draw business with quality, integrity, dignity, diligence, skill and success. They hope their ads can stress how simple and easy using their firm will be. Lawyers must still observe ethical obligations. Promotions should not mislead or raise false expectations. Lawyers should employ truth-in-advertising, which tailors restrictions and limitations to the experience of the average clientele. Disclaimers must be prominent.

Please consider this case study:

BOBBEN & WHEEVAN Attorneys and Counselors at Law Quality legal services Experienced counsel We will fight for your rights See what we can achieve Fast, easy and simple No fee for first consultation

WARNINGS, RESTRICTIONS & LIMITATIONS: Results will vary from case to case. You may experience unpredictable delay, expense and stress. Legal counsel may not predict results. The reporting of past successes cannot be considered an indication of expected results. There are no guarantees of outcomes. Who you know only carries you so far. The services are not available in all areas. Fee-based engagements are accepted only with verifiable credit. This offer is void where prohibited, but no assertion contained herein may be viewed as an offer or proposal. No legal services are actually free. We adopt the doctrine of caveat emptor, but remind the reader that lawyers will use Latin whenever they like but cannot be expected to understand it.

'We adopt the
doctrine of caveat emptor,
but remind the reader
that lawyers will use
Latin whenever they
like but cannot.'

Minors may qualify for certain limited arrangements when accompanied by paying adults who, in turn, must be expected to access resources not otherwise available for their discretionary disposal based on uncertain propositions. Whatever the odds of winning, they are incalculable. The unbundling of legal services may be available to reduce some expenses, but this is unproven and may produce severe anxiety and night sweats. Costs may not be advanced by your counsel on a guaranteed basis; you remain ultimately liable for costs, so you still have to worry about them, a lot. If you have friends on the court this will not be expected to offset the capacity for counsel to exasperate everybody. Estimates of fees by some lawyers indicate probable lack of familiarity with that type of legal problem. In selecting counsel you need to be at least as sophisticated as an average, but mature investor who is accustomed to high risk and volatility. You should triple all fee estimates and quadruple all time estimates. In most cases, expect disbelief, indigestion, heart palpitations, respiratory irregularity, nausea, cognitive impairment and disassociation reactions as the consequence of working with legal counsel over an extended period. All ill effects that you experience will be considered to be due to pre-existing infirmities and conditions personal to the client(s). Your prior experience with self-representation will not be grounds for re-pricing any of the legal work. Expect to be saddled with reoccurring demands for the deposit of additional funds followed by vacillating conditions of unsettledness. By going forward with the engagement of counsel you acknowledge your irrevocable agreement with all provisions, conditions, and terms of our standard fee agreement, which favors the lawyers in any dispute and which will be inflicted ad nauseam. The Firm.

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