If you are looking to grow your law firm or expand your brand as a legal professional, you’ll want to stand out from the crowd. With each next-best-thing in legal marketing outdoing the last, plain old business cards—even those with the most subtle off-white coloring and tasteful thickness—no longer make the cut. From the clever to the unorthodox and the downright strange, here are a few places you would never think to advertise.
Featured image: “Businessman Brainstorming About Advertising” from Shutterstock.
Beer Cover Copycat
In the sphere of legal marketing, a number of ideas seem like winners—at least in theory.
In this case, Sessions Law imitated Full Sail Brewing Company’s Session Lager. The best part is that the logo was not just used online but on brown paper bag covers for beer cans, according to the ABA Journal. The brewery, unsurprisingly, sued for trademark infringement.
Although other law firms appear to have adapted pop culture logos without ramifications, Session Law went further, and attracted attention for it. A resolution to the lawsuit has not yet been publicized.
“Saving Seamen the Old-Fashioned Way.”
One example of legal marketing that probably pushed the bounds of decency was the law firm of Joe Moss and Jay Lawrence Friedheim, a stand-up comedian turned lawyer and later Republican candidate for the Hawaiian legislature.
In the early 1990s, he marketed the “matchless protection” of his maritime law firm by distributing customized condoms stuffed into packages that resembled oversized matchbooks. Each package contained a condom and the slogan “Saving Seamen the old-fashioned way.”
The unconventional legal marketing attracted the interest of clients and lawyers alike. In just eight months, the law firm gave away 2,000 of its creative calling cards.
“Every time I go to court I take another handful,” Mr. Friedheim told the New York Times in 1993.
Although one person complained to the Hawaii State Bar Association, no disciplinary action appears to have been taken.
Handcuff Key Chains
Handcuff keychains are one way to stand out from more conventional legal swag. Although one law firm appears to have openly adopted the idea—to great success—no photos appear to have made it onto the Internet yet.
That’s not to say that the handcuff keychains, as marketed here and here, were not a huge hit. Exhibiting at the SXSW Interactive Trade Show in a booth that looked like a law office, one law firm representative posted on LinkedIn that the most popular giveaway at their booth was the handcuff key rings.
If it’s good enough for Law & Order, it’s probably good enough for you law firm.
Down the Toilet
Some think the legal profession has gone down the toilet. In the case of urinal advertising, it has, quite literally.
One lawyer took urinal advertising to a new level, going viral and leading to a strong client base. Richard “Dick” Strong used his nickname to attract clients by sticking an ad to bathroom stalls and crowns urinals in restrooms at 50 restaurants across Nashville—most of them bars—encouraging anyone charged with a DUI to call Dick Strong.
One Denver DUI lawyer’s legal marketing strategy has potential clients rolling up in laughter, literally.
Denver-based DUI lawyer Jay Tiftickjian is giving out branded rolling papers as part of a legal marketing campaign warning marijuana users about the dangers of stoned driving while promoting his law firm.
He has given away at least 5,000 branded packages of rolling papers emblazoned with the slogan “Enjoy the trip, but don’t drive high” for free distribution. The packaging also includes information about best practices, roadside tests, and the Fifth Amendment Constitutional right to remain silent.
The Divorce Lift
In this rare interactive legal advertisement, the door of an elevator in the building housing a German divorce law firm was affixed with a typical wedding photo. As the elevator doors open, the couple split up revealing the law firm’s information.
This so-called divorce lift seems more like a Hellevator.
Just when you didn’t think divorce lawyers could get any worse.
This bright yellow car emblazoned with “CHEATING BASTARD” looks like something out of a Carrie Underwood music video. But it is really an advertisement for a divorce firm.
Certainly a way to attract attention, but clients?
Cars and trucks advertising law firms are a more common means of legal marketing than one might think, such as in Texas where you can also see this bad boy peeling out and into the courthouse parking lot.
What’s the point of a law firm ad if you can’t show it off everywhere you go? I guess.
Some legal advertising is questionable. Other advertising is downright distasteful.
Flint, Michigan defense lawyer Jay Clothier created an unfortunate law firm t-shirt that falls into the latter category. Proudly displaying the name and website URL of his law firm on the front, the message back has a bit more shock value. It reads:
This is a lesson in what not to do.
Drink bracelets may enable you to get drinks, but they are apparently also an effective way to reach new clients who will have your name and number—if nothing else—when they are racking their brain for a lawyer to call after being pulled for a DUI. Some lawyers are even planning their own happy hours.
(Bottle openers are actually quite common, but probably less effective.)
Although some state bar associations have approved the wristbands, others have blocked them. For example, the Florida Bar considers any “advertisement printed on a wristband to indicate that a customer or attendee is of legal drinking age” to be a direct in-person solicitation.
Perhaps Saul Goodman summarized it best:
Don’t drink and drive. But if you do, call me.