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Spanking the Lawyer

Vivia Chen

February 9, 2014

© emese73_iStockphotoThis is why people think the legal profession is hypocritical. And not much fun.

Remember Jamie Casino, the personal injury lawyer who became a superstar of sorts after running an ad during the Superbowl? Well, he's getting a little spanking from the president of the State Bar of Georgia.

Though the ad only ran locally, it's become an internet sensation (over 5 million views on YouTube as of this writing). In the two-minute ad, Casino talks about how his brother's death caused him to fight for the rights of innocent victims. In a nutshell, the ad has the feel of a movie trailer for a Charles Bronson movie crossed with the Ten Commandments. It is replete with references to the Bible, Mafia, hell, revenge, and salvation. Just for good measure, there's also an image of a little boy who keeps asking, "Daddy, what do you do when you go to work?" 

It's breathless, gothic, and lyrical—though the plot line is a bit garbled (there are suggestions of injustice, though it's not clear what it is). In any case, this is definitely not your standard "Call 1-800-INJURED" ad.

People magazine calls it "the most epic personal injury attorney commercial we've ever seen." I'd go further and say that it approaches the work of DeMille or the Coen brothers—especially when you consider it was put out by a lawyer.

But Charles Ruffin, the president of Georgia's State Bar, didn't quite appreciate the art form. Here's part of his statement, from Daily Report:

I firmly believe most members of the State Bar of Georgia do not condone or approve of advertising that uses sensationalism and "over-the-top" graphics in an attempt to get business.  

Though Ruffin concedes that Casino has a right to run the ad, he wags his finger at him like an old schoolmaster:

Notwithstanding, I assure you that Georgia lawyers engage in a level of professionalism beyond the bare minimum. Most of us follow The Lawyers' Creed . . . which states in part: "As a lawyer, I will aspire ... (b) To consider the effect of my conduct on the image of our systems of justice including the social effect of advertising methods. As a professional, I should ensure that any advertisement of my services: (1) Is consistent with the dignity of the justice system and a learned profession."

I don't mean to be disrespectful but the "dignity of the justice system and a learned profession"? My, my, aren't we taking ourselves awfully seriously—especially when we're talking about advertisement aimed at making money out of people's misfortunes or ignorance?
To me, Casino's commercial was far less creepy than the ones I usually see on TV or the subways in which a slimy lawyer (dressed like a concerned undertaker) tells people that there's a pot of gold waiting for those who've lost life or limb; all you need to do is to pick up the phone and call counsel.
So Casino's ad was over-wrought, but give him points for originality and entertainment value. If nothing else, Casino's ad conveys a sense of personal mission that you seldom see in members of the bar.
Now, isn't that giving respect to the legal profession?



 E-mail: vchen@alm.com     Twitter: https://twitter.com/lawcareerist



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Yes, I remember that ad. It was too much! I have similar feelings to those expressed. Too sensational and all that.

James | http://www.trammellandmills.com/common-injuries.php

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About The Careerist

The Careerist takes an inside look at how lawyers shape their careers and manage their lives. The blog aims to dissect developments in the profession, provide useful information and advice, and give lawyers a platform to voice their views. The goal is to provide a fresh, provocative take on the state of lawyering.

About Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen

Vivia Chen, The Careerist's chief blogger, has been covering the business and culture of law firms for a decade. A former corporate lawyer, Chen is fascinated by those who thrive (as well as those who don't) in the legal profession. Her take: Success in the law (and life) doesn't always travel a linear path. If you have topics you'd like to discuss or information to share, contact her: VChen@alm.com

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