How to Feed a Lawyer (and Other Irreverent Observations from the Legal Underground)

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Your yellow pages podcast itself "sucked." While I am not a big believer in yellow pages ad (tv and radio work much better, IMHO), consider my home state in the South. Don't judge the pages from the lawyer side, judge them from the potential caller side.

Rural folks, agricultural folks, and "red clay" people, these are my clients. I almost always get calls resulting from my modest YP ad to my larger Verizon Pages ad. Perhaps in bigger cities like St. Loo there may be a herd mentality.

How would you like someone to get an attorney? From their country club roster? Perhaps from "the net" or even better, referred by a friend? I had to laugh when once, during jury selection, a potential juror said that a good way to find an attorney was "through your banker."

So, put me in the column that has a YP ad that gets me results.


It may be just me, as a rural person, I see no connection between being a rural person and finding anything through the yellow pages. I never look for anything there.


I am using my experience as an attorney, and I am asking the question: Not as a lawyer, but as a potential client in a smaller sized city - let us say under 75,000. Client is injured, total loss of an auto, medical bills. Where is that person going to find an attorney?


If I needed a lawyer, I would choose based upon my personal network and/or the reputation of the law firms and attorneys in my community. Chances are, I would not use the yellow pages. Of course, many people do look at them--that is why you see so many ads there. I am from a town with a population under 900 people.

Evan: Very funny podcast. Two thumbs up.


Wowie. Talk about elitist!!! Lemme see: It's ok for Pfizer to market directly to me about life saving drugs. It's ok to have Wash Mutual tell me on the back of a bus about a 401K. It's ok for me to go to the yellow pages to get a quote on my $25K roof repair.

But it's not OK to put an ad in the yellow pages. I will answer that guy's question: Where is a person going to find an attorney?

Hmmm... DUI case, he gets to the jail. All he has it ... riiiiighhht - a phone book. Hard to get a referral at 2AM in the drunk tank isn't it?

Divorce. It's sudden and unexpected. So? Ok, the YP, why not?

Please spare me the details about going on the internet. Web lawyers? The #1 Yellow Pages guy here in Orlando is also the #1 WEb presence guy, who happens to be the #1 TV guy.

Referrals? OK so the immigrant or the new transplant working for Disney who has been here all of 6 months from NY.What does she do? Ask Walt's kids who they recommend? And what if THEY in turn got their atty from the YP?

While certainly the ads border on downright tacky you 'dis' while not giving any decent alternative.

You think a minority can ask member of his country club? Oh by the way, I'm black, and the most successful attorney in my church ... happens to have a 2 page YP ad. Who do you think I will call?

Deviant Law Student

Before I began law school I found myself in need of an attorney. I was having a business dispute with a large government agency, and I had NO IDEA about where to find representation. I suspected that the yellow pages were not the best place to look, but I didn't know where else to turn. On the advice of a friend, I called the local chamber of commerce, and they directed me to a very capable attorney. Maybe I was just lucky.

Now that I am surrounded by attorneys and lawyers-in-training, finding representation seems like a snap, but what is the answer for somebody that doesn't run in our circle of advocates?

I really enjoyed the podcast, and I would be willing to bet that "mk," the author of the first comment, probably has a two-page full-color ad in the yellow pages. Considering the venom in that comment, I suspect "mk" has also listed his/her west-coast alma mater next to a cliche metaphor in an attempt to attract business.


Nice try deviant law student. Actually, if you take any business card out of your wallet, that is the size of the YP ad I run in several books. Oh by the way, I'm in about 25 books.

Now, in the Verizon ad, it's larger. It has no graphics. It only lists the firm, our #, and a stock courtroom photo. It also lists our fees. It also says "Our practice is limited to helping consumers, not corporations or industries." And it says we have people in our office that speak several languages. It also has MY cell phone if the call is after hours and it's urgent. Some call it a "tombstone" ad.

So now we have some posts 2 of which attack me in some way personally - but you guys and gals just don't get it! Answer the question: Where are the potential clients expected to find counsel when there may be -- to them -- exigent circumstances?

I am guessing by the deafening silence that indeed the YP is a decent but not great start.


mk, perhaps the question is where a person might get competent counsel?

The yellow pages only demonstrate that a person can place an advertisement. And we all know the dirty little secret of the yellow pages is that, concerning lawyers, the big ads are often by the big boobs. It's no guarantee that a person knows anything. Indeed, some really busy lawyers don't have yellow page ads, becuase they have no need of them.

But you raise a good point, but in a way its the same point that Evan raises. Pity the person who has only the yellow pages to go to. Perhaps he'll get a good lawyer, but perhaps he'll get the biggest flop available. Who knows? He'll get a lawyer all right, as Evan, and you, state. But is there any guarantee the lawyer is any good at all? No.

Let me also suggest that with any Yellow Page ad, and I do not mean to insult anyone, there's always an element of self praise that is unrealistic if they get very big. Again, not picking on mk, but stating that your practice is "limited to helping. . ." is not really completely accurate, is it? Your practice is limited to "representing". It is different, unless we fool ourselves that we are always being helpful. I guess we can state that, but a more honest way to state it would be, that my practices "is limited to helping people who pay me, and I don't take payments form corporations, etc."

I'm always seeing the "helpful" type Yellow Pages ad. "Helping the injured since. . .", "helping those who have been fired", or "for the little man". Just once, I'd like to see a really honest yellow pages ad.

"Helping people who will give me a third of any recovery to get some money, irrespective of whether they deserve help or not". Heck, I'd be more inclined to hire that guy.


Hey Yeoman,

Why limit your gripe to the Yellow Pages? Why not all ads in general?

How about a McDonald's ad that says, "We deliver the artery-blocking, heart attack-triggering, obesity-causing BigMac to you because we know you think it tastes good (according to our marketing studies), and this translates into large profit margins that elevate our stock price and line our wallets."

How about a Marlboro ad that says, "Our cigarettes have been designed specifically to be addictive so that you'll fork over lots of money to us, even knowing (or better yet, not knowing) that cigarettes will blacken your lungs and cause cancer in just about every part of the human body"?

Just once, I'd like to see an honest...ad. Yeahhhhh, right.


Well actually, at one time, all legal ads were banned. The logic was that lawyers were a profession, and it was undignified for professionals to advertise. But the Supreme Court struck that down.

So I concede that rockefella has a point, but I think perhaps it tends to prove the opposite point. By getting into advertising, which now practically all lawyers do, it puts us down in the common marketplace, at the same time we claim to be a learned professions.


I'm a friend of MK's it's been an interesting read of this thread. First let me tell you that he and I both "help" consumers. What does that mean? I will waive all of my fee when we handle Property Damage claims even though we are allowed them under our Employment Agreement.

MK and I (I am sitting in his office right now) also filed a Declaratory Judgment Action on an ERISA claim and waived a high five figure claim.Why? The client had a huge pile of medical bills.

I and MK volunteered to help consumers deal with Hurricane claims, dealing with insurers. No fee. I could go on.

OK, I'm game: Where does a potential client find an attorney? That depends. Criminal defendants are for the most part DUI, drug poss., simple assault. I know a guy - former USAO atty takes the cases as a result of Yellow Pages ads.

For me, Yellow Pages work very well. 1/2 page in 1 book 1/4 page in a Hispanic book. I generate more than 300 calls a year. Oh by the way you are crazy if you think that by calling me "the deal is done." I get grilled over results, etc. When we settle a case I can guesstimate that at least 1/3 of my clients don't even have a checking account. So I walk them to my bank next door. To think that such a person has internet ... they do have a TV and they do have a Yellow book.

You guys are really living in an outdated world if you laugh at YP ads. Face it this is a business. If some lawyer dummy wants to spend big bucks for a YP ad go ahead. I know that in Georgia YP ads are not that big of a deal. I do know that in Central FL they are.


"You guys are really living in an outdated world if you laugh at YP ads. Face it this is a business."

You guys are missing the point. The point is not that people do not call them, nor that they may be the only way for people to learn a lawyers name. The point is that a Yellow Page really is a shot in the dark. So, it's not really all that different from just calling lawyers off of a list, other than you know what kind of cases the lawyer wants. That's the point.

Or, to turn it around, does anyone seriously maintain that a Yellow Page ad is a good indicator of what sort lawyer a person would be getting? If you think that, why do you think that?


To add a bit, let's not confuse getting a lawyer, with getting a good lawyer. You may or may not if you rely only on an ad. Lawyers are loath to admit that, but there's a lot of not so hot lawyers advertising. There's a lot of good lawyers advertising too. But, to state it again, pity the poor person who only has the advertising to go on.

We can say that it is the only way a person can find one, but that doesn't mean it works well for them. Perhaps the advertisement is in Spanish, and the client only speaks Spanish, which only means they've answered a Spanish speaking advertisement. And if it is there only means, it doesnt' make it a good one.

Like Rockefella stated, lets not kid ourselves. Cigarettes don't kill, Light Beer will make you beautiful. . ., and an ad will get you a great lawyer. We all know that isn't true. Sure, advertisements are effective, but that doesn't mean the message is always correct.


The person who recorded and posted this podcast (that is me) is a laywer who advertises in the Yellow Pages, just like "mk." I guess it would be too much to ask that the naysayers actually listen to what I wrote. Wasn't there a line in there to the effect that lawyers who advertise in the Yellow Pages don't communicate very well? Yes, I'm sure there was. I stand by that idea. In fact, I think I'll post more about it later.


That was your point, and it is true. I just looked through the Yellow Pages ads today. To give them credit, there was some with some real content, and they likely did inform people what the lawyer did. Others were just slogans.

Actually, I have to say I was impressed by how much they had improved. I don't look at them often, but they are much better than several years ago when people would just stick a mean looking dog in an ad, or something like that.

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