The Truth about Lawyer Advertising

For years the Florida Bar didn’t really care for or allow testimonials in lawyer advertising.  The problem with a testimonial is that it could be misleading because each and every case has its own unique set of circumstances.  On May 1, 2013, the Florida Bar changed its advertising rules and now allows testimonials that are “objectively verifiable.”  The Bar also defined testimonials:

A testimonial is a personal statement, affirmation, or endorsement by any person other than the advertising lawyer or a member of the advertising lawyer’s firm regarding the quality of the lawyer’s services or the results obtained through the representation. Clients as consumers are well-qualified to opine on matters such as courtesy, promptness, efficiency, and professional demeanor. Testimonials by clients on these matters, as long as they are truthful and are based on the actual experience of the person giving the testimonial, are beneficial to prospective clients and are permissible.

What information does the above photo give to a prospective client?

The above photo is a testimonial that says the client received a million dollars for their case.  What information does that really provide a consumer of legal services? Does that mean that every case that firm handles is worth a million dollars? How does the prospective client know that the actual value of the above case was not higher than a million dollars and the case was under settled?

The truth is that insurance companies do not pay a million dollars on a claim unless the claim is worth that amount or more.  The factors that an insurance company or jury will look at in deciding the value of a personal injury claims are:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages or the ability to earn money in the future
  • Other economic losses such as modifications to home, cars, etc.
  • Pain & suffering
  • Loss of the quality of enjoyment of life, scarring, disfigurement and other human losses

The truth about lawyer advertising is the value of a client’s case is proportional to the amount of harm that the defendant caused.  If a case settles for a million dollars, it is because there is at least a million dollars in harms and losses.  There is no free lunch.  Personal injury claims are not like playing the lottery.

If you were looking for a lawyer in a personal injury matter, would you base your decision on a billboard that says a law firm “GOT ME $1M”?