f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

April 3, 2004

PR or Parody?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 12:31 pm

I just did some quick research to make sure a New York State Bar Association  press release, dated 04-01-04, wasn’t an April Fool’s joke:  The release states:

Radio Campaign Launched

Campaign Aims to Educate New Yorkers About the Important Role of Lawyers as the Foundation of the Rule of Law

To help educate New Yorkers about the important role lawyers play in protecting people’s rights, the New York State Bar Association has launced a four-week, statewide radio campaign in cooperation with the 240-member stations of the New York State Broadcasters Association. The campaign, which will run from April 1-30, will feature four separate 30-second spots.

Here’s the text of each spot (you can click the link to hear each message):

  • Spot 1  To read the headlines, it seems that our way of life is open to attack from both inside and outside forces. We live in challenging times. Change seems certain. But one thing doesn’t change . . . : our system of government . . . based . . . not on the politics of the moment . . . but on the rule of law. The founders of our country made it that way. A lawyer helps keep it that way.  Think about it. The law . . . It’s your business. 

  • Spot 2  Voice 1- It’s been said a physician looks after your body and clergy look after your soul.   Voice 2 – What part of me does a lawyer look after? Voice 1 – A lawyer looks after your rights. A lawyer looks after your property. A lawyer looks after your business dealings. Voice 2 – So, my lawyer looks after my interests. Voice 1 Right! That’s what a lawyer is for.   Think about it.  The law . . . It’s your business. .

  • laughing man  Spot 3   Voice 1 – What do I need a lawyer for? Voice 2 – Do you speak your mind?   Voice 1- Sure do!   Voice 2 – What if somebody said you couldn’t? What if somebody said you had to change religions? What if somebody said you couldn’t read what you wanted, or watch what you wanted, or go where you wanted? What if somebody said your kids couldn’t go to school? What if somebody steals your idea? What if somebody cheats you? Voice 1- Okay. I get it. That’s what lawyers are for.   Think about it. The law . . . It’s your business.

  • Spot 4  We were present at the creation of the Constitution. There were thirty-one of us. We were there when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that even a poor person was entitled to have a lawyer. We are there everyday, protecting your rights, rights that are guaranteed. We are there as guardians of the “rule of law.” We are lawyers. Think about it. The law . . . It’s your business.

Each Spot ends with the sentence: “This message brought to you by the 72-thousand members of the New York State Bar Association and the New York State Broadcasters Association.

laughing man flip  According to a BizJournals.com article, the campaign is for real, and is the fourth such campaign since 1996.  (bizjournals/albany, “New radio ads to tout lawyer contributions,” 03-29-04)  An article written last year in The Business Review, told of a similar campaign by NYSBA, which dealt with lawyers “helping people pay for AIDS treatment, adopt a child and advising a woman on how to start a new business.”  (State bar to use radio to improve lawyers’ image,” by Eric Durr, 09-30-03)  

The Sept. 2003 article quoted the bar president saying the 3-spot campaign cost “about $25,000.”  No dollar figure has been reported for this year’s 4-spot campaign.

Well, now I understand why New Yorkers have been so much more respectful of lawyers the past few years!  ethicalEsq is eloquently on the record stating the belief that the legal profession needs to attend far more to professional responsibility than to public relations, if it wants to increase the reputation of lawyers.  


joker gray  From my perspective, as a consumer and citizen of New York State (and former member of NYSBA), the spots quoted above can only serve to make the public more cynical about lawyers.  The campaign does nothing to address the public’s main complaints about lawyers and the justice system they have constructed and manipulated for their own purposes. 


Imagine, instead, a radio campaign informing consumers that they can negotiate the size of contingency fees, and that the local “standard fee” is the maximum allowed.  Or, consider airing spots reminding the public that Small Claims courts can provide civil justice without using lawyers, and now allow dollar limits up to $5000.  Such ads — serving the public’s interests rather than the profession’s — would improve the image of lawyers.  As would using the $25,000+ to increase self-help resources available at courts, or at the NYSBA website, instead of touting the virtues of lawyers.


Until their ads are truly “public service” in nature, rather than mere “public relations,” NYSBA and other bar groups across the nation should at least have the good sense to announce their “educational” campaigns on days other than April First. 

s/ Prof. Yabut . . prof yabut small




Best wishes to the folks at Law.com/American Lawyer Media on the launching of their new Small Firm Business magazine and website, on March 26th.  Here’s how they describe their raison d’etre:

To help you improve your productivity and profitability – and quality of life – it’s time for a magazine that focuses on the business side of running a law practice. Small Firm Business will cover finance, business development, insurance, marketing, technology, real estate, facilities management, research an practice tools, human resources, benefits, personal finance, and so much more.

The good Fool and the good Professor will surely want to review this month’s article on the Rieslings of France and Germany.  I can’t vouch for their taste in wine, but SFB has the very good taste to include this humble weblog in its brief blawg roll.  Thank you, Lydia Markoff.

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