Thursday, September 13, 2007
On a trip to Tennessee to see clients last week, I happened to stop at a gas station outside the small town of Lebanon, TN. While in the men's room, I noticed an 8 1/2 x 11 one page ad for a law firm over in Nashville. It brought a chuckle as I thought that was an interesting place to put an ad and wondered who their target demographic might be.
Then it became clear when I read the line under the attorney's pictures. It read:
"Don't let your starter wife run off with your dream home."
Isn't that repugnant? The whole concept of a "starter wife" is morally bankrupt, in my opinion. And, to top it off, in Tennessee marital property is normally divided 50/50, absent some finding of waste of marital assets or other financial wrongdoing on the part of one of the parties. So, the lawyers are generally promising something they can't deliver. You can keep the dream home, but you will have to even it out by giving up every other marital asset.
This is what has gone wrong with the profession. We (and mostly mean the big firms who can affort the slick advertising campaigns) have sold our professional souls in the pursuit of the dollar. Our advertising reeks of used car ads. We're not a respected profession anymore - because we don't act like one.
But what can we do? From the small lawyer perspective, not much. Small lawyers generally don't get placed on the committees that are making and interpreting the rules. That honor is given to the big guys, and it's the big guys who are doing this kind of advertising.
All the small guy can do is carve out his niche and practice law with all the honor, integrity and dignity that he can muster, and hope that the public can see the difference between us and what they see in the advertising.