Remembering TCPaul, 2016-2019

Deceptive Legal Ad?

What if the attorney doesn't really employ that many people jeffm03/30/19
I haven't watched it, can you give a summary? A solo list dingbat03/31/19
The link is to a short commercial spot for TV. It shows abo jeffm03/31/19
I just watched the ad, and then had to research the company. dingbat03/31/19
Doubt the name company on the ad is a firm. Likely a grou superttthero03/31/19
I dug through it. it is a law firm. The disclaimer says it dingbat03/31/19
I was just curious at you all's impressions. I have no inte jeffm03/31/19
I see things like this a lot. Some kid solo with a banner a wutwutwut03/31/19
Perhaps this type of ad falls within the wink, wink, kind of 2ski04/01/19
No more deceptive than the other referral services out there jd4hire04/01/19
The fine print says it's not a law firm and ALSO not a refer onehell04/02/19
jeffm (Mar 30, 2019 - 11:37 pm)

What if the attorney doesn't really employ that many people and take that many calls? Could making one's self look far busier than is the case be deceptive advertising?

https://www.ispot.tv/ad/IV3y/legal-help-center-injured-in-an-accident

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dingbat (Mar 31, 2019 - 9:03 am)

I haven't watched it, can you give a summary?

A solo listed as John Doe & Associates is violating the rules on deceptive advertising.
An attorney who says "call now because I'm really busy" is probably in the clear because it's really hard to prove he isn't busy (busy can also include personal life)

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jeffm (Mar 31, 2019 - 9:45 am)

The link is to a short commercial spot for TV. It shows about 10 people in a "call center" answering the phones. They are all on the phone like they are swamped.

I wonder if it could be deceptive because it portrays demand for his services as being much higher than it really is. Kind of like the call volume vouches for the quality of his services.

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dingbat (Mar 31, 2019 - 6:04 pm)

I just watched the ad, and then had to research the company. it's problematic for a number of reasons.

For one thing, it's in violation of Rule 7.2 (d) Any communication made under this Rule must include the name and contact information of at least one lawyer or law firm responsible for its content.

Second, the disclaimer says "not a lawyer referral service or a law firm" and then states that "Legal Help Center is a trade name used by this group of independent attorneys and marketing companies....: DeMore Law Firm". I also tried calling the number and it goes directly to DaMore Law (yes, there's a discrepancy there). Prima facie evidence they're not being truthful, which is a violation of Rule 7.1

File a complaint to the disciplinary committee under Rule 8.3, and let them decide whether or not it's a problem.

There's another issue. the website they advertise states that it is owned by "Legal Help Center LLC". No such company is registered to do business in Massachusetts. You should file a complaint with the Secretary of State while you're at it.

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superttthero (Mar 31, 2019 - 6:06 pm)

Doubt the name company on the ad is a firm.

Likely a group of attorneys have gotten together and formed a non-profit referral service that funnels all clients to those attorneys and whoever is willing to pay to get into the referral service.

The ad says at the bottom that it is not a "law firm" or a "referral service," but I assume it's closer to the latter. Maybe they do the first consultation for free to get away with not being a "referral service" or a "firm" and then they hope to pull those clients.

I'm not saying this isn't a troublesome thing, but it's a little more involved than a straight unethical advert for a firm.

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dingbat (Mar 31, 2019 - 7:47 pm)

I dug through it. it is a law firm.
The disclaimer says it's a group of attorneys that banded together and that the group represents attorneys from ONE firm. If you call their number, you get put through to said firm.
AND the referral service is not registered in the state they do business in.

That's beyond stupid. Had they used their own name, it'd be questionable. Had they created an actual referral service, it'd be dodgy, but probably still ok. But by claiming to be a referral service when they aren't, they're straight up lying.

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jeffm (Mar 31, 2019 - 11:16 pm)

I was just curious at you all's impressions. I have no intent to file a complaint.

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wutwutwut (Mar 31, 2019 - 11:53 pm)

I see things like this a lot. Some kid solo with a banner across the top claiming "we" have "associate" in offices in LA, NYC, ATL, CHI and MIA, and when you google the "adresses" for the "offices" they're just drop box services and the kid is only barred in one state.

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2ski (Apr 1, 2019 - 7:18 am)

Perhaps this type of ad falls within the wink, wink, kind of advertising puffery much akin to auto dealers and realtors calling themselves the #1 seller, #1 best, etc.

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jd4hire (Apr 1, 2019 - 8:51 am)

No more deceptive than the other referral services out there - Morgan and Morgan, Sokolove, etc.

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onehell (Apr 2, 2019 - 6:11 pm)

The fine print says it's not a law firm and ALSO not a referral service. Rather, it says it's attorney advertising and discloses the primary law firm which is this demore place. It also says that legal help or whatever they call it is a "Trade name" so we know it's not a separate company. The fine print also discloses the responsible law firm which is that demore place.

In other words, it's just a bunch of lawyers who split the cost of an advertisement. They aren't paying for referrals; they're paying their share of the cost of making and airing the clip.

I also don't know how it would be misleading to depict a boiler-room type call center. That just conveys to a viewer that if you call, someone will answer.

Lawyers generally can't pay for referrals (except for reasonable fee-splitting with other lawyers and specially approved referral services which usually have to be run by the bar itself), but they can pay for advertising. I think that while it does feel a bit unsavory, overall chances are it's at least arguably legit. No clear-cut violations here IMHO.

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