I have been around long enough to remember when lawyers could not advertise. It seems silly today to think it took the Supreme Court of the United States, in a 5-4 decision no less, to strike down the universal ban on lawyer advertising.
Prior to the Bates v. State Bar of Arizona decision in 1977, about all a lawyer could do to get his name out into the public was to hand out his business card! The American Bar Association (ABA) had believed that lawyer advertising was unprofessional and it shed a bad light on the practice of law.
Many years later, and millions of dollars spent, lawyer advertising is everywhere! It started with a simple newspaper ad in the Los Angeles Times and mushroomed to network TV. You now can find legal ads in the yellow pages, on matchbox covers, on the radio and, of course, on the ubiquitous billboards!
As usual, the legal profession was slow to embrace any type of advertising. The big firms stayed away while the more aggressive smaller firms dove right in. And boy did those small firms do well! What the stogy old Kingsfields of the legal profession didn’t realize was there was such a pent-up demand for legal advertising.
In the mid 1990’s, a new advertising medium appeared on the scene… the World Wide Web… later to be called the Internet. And like anything new, lawyers didn’t understand, didn’t care to understand and just simply ignored it. Oh, but those aggressive smaller firms!
It was 1998 that PersonalInjuryHotline.com went online. It was one of the first legal websites of its kind. A simple, basic, inexpensive website that had really nothing going for it except the lack of competition!
Within a short time, accident victims from all parts of the globe started calling our toll-free number, 800 2345-LAW; with calls from England, Australia, Canada and even India! Of course, that all changed as lawyers worldwide started utilizing the power of the Internet.
So hiring a lawyer from the Internet is a very routine thing these days. But just remember one thing, you only hire a lawyer by signing a retainer. No attorney-client relationship exists just from going to a lawyer’s website or calling his office number.