Lawyer ads are famously terrible. I mean, is there anything more fraught with both possibility and potential for disaster than a lawyer doing a television/YouTube advertisement? We come from a profession that has only allowed advertising for a shade over 40 years and one that now deals with a near-continuous battle over what is actually permissible.
Additionally, a good deal of lawyer business isn’t actually the kind that is enhanced by television marketing. Your mergers-and-acquisitions practice probably isn’t going to be helped by a 30-second YouTube video. Because of that, lawyer ads tend to be focused on those types of practices — criminal law, divorce, personal injury — where direct marketing to individuals might prove successful, and for some unfathomable reason, most of those things lead to truly terrible law firm ads.
Right now, there’s an arms race of sorts, where some lawyers are actually trying to make the most ridiculous and over-the-top ads, which got us to wondering whether we could find ten lawyer ads that were actually good (not “oh god that’s so bad it is hilarious” good).
Spoiler alert: we totally couldn’t. The portion of the Internet that is not entirely occupied by pictures of cats is apparently populated only by intentionally cheesy or accidentally awful lawyer ads. Lawyer ads are so bad that the ABA Law Practice Management section decided to create a Law Video Award back in 2011 and has abandoned the effort entirely going forward. We’ll likely do the same.
Best Lawyer Ads #1: Machete
Did you know that if you keep banging away at Google like a monkey with a keyboard, repeatedly trying various search combinations of “best” and “lawyer” and “advertising” and video” pretty much all you will come across are ads from Trolman, Glaser & Lichtman? “Machete” — which tells the tale of a woman searching for justice for her excruciating paper cut — is hilarious without tipping over into flaming sledgehammers or explosions for the cringeworthy laugh. The firm has other videos too, like “Scaffolding” that skip right over funny and go straight to pathos.
The entire ad campaign — all ten ads — was put together by the same advertising firm, which helpfully informs you that your personal injury firm can license any of the ads for your market as long as you’re outside New York. Somehow knowing that just takes all the magic away.
Best Lawyer Ads #2: Choate vs. Megafirm
Choate Hall and Stewart is a big-ish firm in Boston, but was having trouble recruiting students because they were choosing the bigger and more well-known firms in Boston, a place we are sure is littered with big law firms with fancy names. They decided to rectify that by making an ad where a Choate associate taunts a Megafirm associate with tales of all the cool work she gets to do. She gets to go to trial and do document reviews, while the poor Megafirm schlub, shown here covered in Post-It notes, only gets to do document reviews. Poor Megafirm man.
Presumably the idea behind this ad was that you, stellar young 1L, would see this ad over the summer before fall 2L OCI and think “hey, I do not wish to be covered in Post-It notes, so I’m going for Choate.”
Also, it’s kind of great that the ad’s name makes it sound like it is some sort of Godzilla-esque battle where Choate and Megafirm will lay waste to the city, all in an attempt to acquire more top-quality law school graduates.
Best Lawyer Ads #3: It’s Okay, I’ve Got Lawdingo
Lawdingo seems to be a pretty run-of-the-mill legal referral service, and there seems to be no reason whatsoever why it is called “Lawdingo,” complete with stylized dingo drawings adorning the website. Do dingoes fetch? Is that maybe why? Australian readers, please let us know.
Lawdingo walks right up to what we’re now officially calling the flaming-sledgehammer-lawyer ad line, but they don’t stomp over. In between the deliberately stilted and over-earnest explanation from the service’s founder (set in a law library, of course) there are little vignettes of a man who is relentlessly cheerful about all manner of things that befall him, because he’s got Lawdingo. There’s also a child getting patted down for Tootsie Roll possession, which alone would have probably made this a great ad, given the low bar we’re setting here.
Best Lawyer Ads #4: The Law Accordion To Hanson Bridgett
We’re going to forgive the terrible pun in the ad title because again, low bar. That said, this advertisement is actually kind of adorable. When Hanson Bridgett celebrated its 50th anniversary and changed its name back in 2008, it did a video featuring the firm’s managing partner, Andrew G. Giacomini, tromping down Market Street in San Francisco clad in lederhosen and playing a drum, accompanied eventually by not one, not two, but three different accordion players.
As with the Choate ad, the audience here isn’t likely a potential client, but instead a top-tier law graduate that will be wooed by the possibility of a wacky managing partner as their boss rather than an un-musical non-lederhosen-wearing Grinch type.