YouTube can be a tool to reach, engage, and attract potential clients. It is also a graveyard of videos past, archiving everything from the absurd to the ethically questionable.

Comment 3 to Rule 7.2 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct points out that questions of effectiveness and taste in advertising are “matters of speculation and subjective judgment.” Although dignity and good taste are open to interpretation, the ABA has encouraged lawyers to consider advertising that reflects the ABA’s aspirational goals.

From Washington to Maine to South Carolina, state bar associations have imposed additional limits, but here are some YouTube videos and televised advertisements that apparently still made the cut.

Miss Naughty

Earlier in 2015, the latest video in a series of advertisements produced by a Santa Rosa, California, attorney sparked controversy among legal professionals and commentators. The video features the attorney as he asks a talking doll referred to as Miss Naughty about her “case” and presses a button, and the doll responds with risqué phrases. The attorney claims that his firm made the video as a humorous break after recording a series of more serious videos about prostitution. The doll was a gag gift left over from a friend’s wedding.

Attorneys and legal professions have not been amused, with one attorney going as far as to describe the video as “sick.” University of California at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall legal ethics professor Bruce Budner has claimed that he personally would not run the ad, but noted that there is no law against “bad taste, if that’s what you want to call it.” While there may be no law, the ABA and state bar associations have strongly encouraged attorneys to exude a certain standard of taste and dignity in advertisements.

Everything Is Coming Up Hammer

Will the real “Hammer” please stand up?

Lawyers across the country have dubbed themselves Hammer. From Virginia to Kentucky and across the county, the Hammer is a well-known appellation in law. Not to mention the Georgia Hammer, Tennessee Hammer, the Texas Hammer, and, last but not least, the Alabama Hammer whose ad is featured above.

Who could resist a deer head that explodes into cash?

This Video Has Been Removed

If you stumbled across these videos on YouTube or are clicking through these videos without reading anything I’ve written here, this may be a little confusing. The video is not broken. No, seriously. That’s it.

This clever ad campaign that touches on the common practice of attempting to erase one’s online history when things don’t go so well in real life. The agency created three YouTube spots that use thumbnails alluding to video content about celebrity couples.

Clever play on technology, but watch closely or you may miss that this is an actual attorney ad.

Consequences Suck

This viral attorney advertisement is pretty self-explanatory.

“Consequences,” Pennsylvania lawyer and freestyle rapper Daniel Buckley Muessig says, “They sure suck, don’t they? America was built on freedom, not on a bunch of people with more money than you telling you what you can and can’t do with all their stupid laws.”

Puppets and Other Goodies

Honorable mention goes to the use of singing cartoons, singing Texans, Texan young’uns, and the puppet featured above. Also this lawyer, who clearly beat you to the punch.

Zombies

Along with the recent cultural uptick in zombie fandom, zombies have been used in advertisements to sell everything from packing and shipping services to tortilla chips. It would thus follow suit that they are now being used with vigor to market the next most essential service: lawyers.

This begs the question, would you want to be represented by some humdrum paper-pusher when you could hire a zombie hunter?

If you answered with a resounding “no,” you are not alone.

Whether it is personal injury or debt collection, you never know when you’ll need an attorney in the wake of a zombie apocalypse.

In fact, the Zombie Lawyer — who is unfortunately not a real attorney – has an entire YouTube channel of fake advertising. His most recent gem is all about the perils of open swimming pools, attractive nuisance, and, of course, zombies.

You will never think of the long arm of the law in the same way again.

Originally published 2015-09-30. Republished 2016-11-25.

Featured image: “Closeup portrait unhappy, angry, mad, annoyed, grumpy man giving thumbs down gesture” from Shutterstock.

7 Comments

  1. R. Dernister says:

    Dignity? Good taste?? We’re talking lawyers here.

  2. Joseph Dang says:

    The zombie one made me smile a little bit.

  3. Tighe Wilhelmy says:

    Great post, Anna. There is tremendous difficulty with attorneys trying to create viral type videos. One of the more “tasteful” videos by an attorney I’ve seen that accomplishes this is the Texas Law Hawk, Bryan Wilson.

    You can see his video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL3MxAH-kDI

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