Lawyer Commercials

Written by Robert Mac
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Lawyer commercials accounted for nearly $300 million in advertising in 2003, and that's just for local TV spots. If you include radio and some print ads, it climbs another $100 million. Lawyers wouldn't continue doing it if it didn't bring in some business, so it obviously works.

In 1908, the American Bar Association adopted the Canons of Professional Ethics, which banned lawyer advertising--except for business cards. These rules informed the ethical conduct of lawyers and were generally accepted by the courts of the individual states of the union. But in 1977, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for states to ban lawyer commercials or other forms of advertising. Suddenly, the rules regarding the ethical provisions of lawyers changed. Within a month and a half of the 1977 decision, the American Bar Association amended its code of professional responsibility, in accordance of the Supreme Court ruling. And since then, the ABA has asked the states to revise their ethic rules, too.

Advertising to Certain Demographics

The rise of the Internet has created a number of new legal and ethical questions regarding lawyer commercials. While the legal community is still bound by certain ethical standards, they are also service providers who have to advertise those services to the markets that need them most. Because the Internet comprises very specific demographics, well-researched advertising to niche groups can be more effective than broadcast ads. A general commercial might reach millions, but a quality ad targeting your particular type of clientele will provide you with more business.

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