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

September 15, 2004

dog bites bar

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 8:02 pm

dog black


When it comes to muzzling the famous 1-(800)-PIT-BULL, the Florida Bar is all bark, and no bite.  After more than two hours of testimony and argument yesterday (Sept. 14), the Hon. William W. Herring, the referee/judge hearing the Florida Bar’s case against Fort Lauderdale’s Pape & Chandler, ruled that neither the 800-PIT-BULL telephone number, nor the firm’s pit bull logo, violated the ethical Rules of the Florida Bar, which were found to be unconstitutional as applied in this case.  [read the rest of this posting here, plus Comments]

 

 

using his nose
the dog searches
the violets

 

 

runaway kite!

the dog also eyes it

restlesslly

 

from Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue 

                                                                                         not your daddy’s law firm (thank goodness!) in full color here  . . . 

18 Comments

  1. I side with David here, but admit I am torn between two loves: my passion for this profession, and my passion for the Constitution. I’m sickened each time I see a tasteless lawyer advertisement in print or on television, and cringe at the thought of what millions of people must be thinking as they watch or read it each time it pops up. But when I wonder what we as a profession can do to eliminate this downward spiral, that durned 1st Amendment keeps getting my way.

    I do think a strong argument can be made that “1-800-PIT-BULL” is misleading to the point of being unethical, without violating the Constitution. This is not a Bates case (where the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the very right of a lawyer to publicly advertise at all). Sadly the Florida court disagrees.

    Comment by UCL — September 15, 2004 @ 8:54 pm

  2. I side with David here, but admit I am torn between two loves: my passion for this profession, and my passion for the Constitution. I’m sickened each time I see a tasteless lawyer advertisement in print or on television, and cringe at the thought of what millions of people must be thinking as they watch or read it each time it pops up. But when I wonder what we as a profession can do to eliminate this downward spiral, that durned 1st Amendment keeps getting my way.

    I do think a strong argument can be made that “1-800-PIT-BULL” is misleading to the point of being unethical, without violating the Constitution. This is not a Bates case (where the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the very right of a lawyer to publicly advertise at all). Sadly the Florida court disagrees.

    Comment by UCL — September 15, 2004 @ 8:54 pm

  3. UCL,  I’ll take competent, diligent, down-to-earth lawyers with so-called “tacky and tasteless” ads any day to the phonies who think their law degrees by themselves create the right to great deference and greater income. 
    Even putting aside the fact that it is used by a law firm aiming at motorcyclist clients, the idea that having a Pit Bull logo is somehow inherently deceptive  is — in my humble opinion — inane, my friend.    Even if I hadn’t spent time in the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, I would conclude that you are confusing deception with lack of dignity — or, you think that consumers are total ninnies.  Are the BIGLAW firms who use “noble” crests deceiving anyone?  How about those with lions or tigers as their “brand”?

    In general, see FTC Policy Statement on Deception (“the Commission will find deception if there is a representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances, to the consumer’s detriment”).
    Given the very limited budgets that bar counsel are working with these days, a simple ordering of priorities would suggest that worrying about real injury to clients is a lot more important than worrying about the (tee-hee) good reputation of the legal profession.    Let’s, for example, go after the excessive fees generated by using a standard contingency fee in a low-risk case, and not the ads that attract clients to one p/i firm or another. 

    Comment by David Giacalone — September 15, 2004 @ 9:55 pm

  4. UCL,  I’ll take competent, diligent, down-to-earth lawyers with so-called “tacky and tasteless” ads any day to the phonies who think their law degrees by themselves create the right to great deference and greater income. 
    Even putting aside the fact that it is used by a law firm aiming at motorcyclist clients, the idea that having a Pit Bull logo is somehow inherently deceptive  is — in my humble opinion — inane, my friend.    Even if I hadn’t spent time in the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, I would conclude that you are confusing deception with lack of dignity — or, you think that consumers are total ninnies.  Are the BIGLAW firms who use “noble” crests deceiving anyone?  How about those with lions or tigers as their “brand”?

    In general, see FTC Policy Statement on Deception (“the Commission will find deception if there is a representation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead the consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances, to the consumer’s detriment”).
    Given the very limited budgets that bar counsel are working with these days, a simple ordering of priorities would suggest that worrying about real injury to clients is a lot more important than worrying about the (tee-hee) good reputation of the legal profession.    Let’s, for example, go after the excessive fees generated by using a standard contingency fee in a low-risk case, and not the ads that attract clients to one p/i firm or another. 

    Comment by David Giacalone — September 15, 2004 @ 9:55 pm

  5. I thought we agreed but upon closer reading we clearly don’t.

    The question of whether a pit bull communicates any more misleading a message than a noble crest is exactly why regulation of lawyer advertising is frought with constitutional problems. And lest there be any doubt: the Constitution trumps my belief in the dignity of our profession any day.

    I do detect a double standard in play here though, on your part, David. You wish to hold lawyering as a profession to a “higher standard” than even the professions of medical doctors, politicians, and policemen (who certainly impact the actual lives of people than most lawyers do), I suppose when it comes to ethics. Yet you apparently reject any acknowledgement by lawyers that our profession should enforce certain standards of dignity, because you deny that… what… we’re subject to higher standards than others since doing so smacks of arrogance?

    I’m afraid you can’t have it both ways. If you are in favor of pit bull advertisements because lawyers should be able to act just like any other businessman sleazily hawking his wares on the street, you should also be in subjecting lawyers to standards absolutely no higher than those of other businessmen, or at a bare minimum those of medical doctors. We are either different, or we are not.

    Comment by UCL — September 15, 2004 @ 11:04 pm

  6. I thought we agreed but upon closer reading we clearly don’t.

    The question of whether a pit bull communicates any more misleading a message than a noble crest is exactly why regulation of lawyer advertising is frought with constitutional problems. And lest there be any doubt: the Constitution trumps my belief in the dignity of our profession any day.

    I do detect a double standard in play here though, on your part, David. You wish to hold lawyering as a profession to a “higher standard” than even the professions of medical doctors, politicians, and policemen (who certainly impact the actual lives of people than most lawyers do), I suppose when it comes to ethics. Yet you apparently reject any acknowledgement by lawyers that our profession should enforce certain standards of dignity, because you deny that… what… we’re subject to higher standards than others since doing so smacks of arrogance?

    I’m afraid you can’t have it both ways. If you are in favor of pit bull advertisements because lawyers should be able to act just like any other businessman sleazily hawking his wares on the street, you should also be in subjecting lawyers to standards absolutely no higher than those of other businessmen, or at a bare minimum those of medical doctors. We are either different, or we are not.

    Comment by UCL — September 15, 2004 @ 11:04 pm

  7. “also be in subjecting” = “also be in favor of subjecting”

    Comment by UCL — September 15, 2004 @ 11:05 pm

  8. “also be in subjecting” = “also be in favor of subjecting”

    Comment by UCL — September 15, 2004 @ 11:05 pm

  9. UCL, I think you’re once again confusing a rather superficial version of dignity or “good taste” with honesty and integrity.  “Sleazy” means dishonest, corrupt or of low quality — which is a lot different than “tacky” (which comes down to not being aesthetically acceptable to some elitist segment of the population).
    As I know you agree, some of the most honest and ethical people on this planet have very low social status by conventional measures.   Wanting to live up to the highest standards of honesty and ethics has nothing to do with social status or feeling superior to others — it is a core desire to uphold obligations, to take responsibilities seriously, to put the client’s interests first.   Far from arrogance, it is born of humility — of being truly humbled and honored to be given the trust of our clients (rather than being “proud” to be part of a privileged elite).   
    Step back and think about this, UCL, because it is very important to the soul of the profession and the people in it.  We have to separate notions of the profession’s social status from those of social service and obligation.   Don’t make the mistake of thinking that true nobility of spirit comes from “better” taste and outward appearances.    “Esquires” carry the shields and tend the horses of the people they serve, they are not the lord of the manner deigning to stoop to help the peasants.
    P.S.  As far as I can tell, the constitutional problem has nothing to do with crests or dogs and is not the least bit difficult — if the information in the ad is not false or deceptive (or demonstrably injurious to a vulnerable client), it can’t be prohibited.   The legal profession/guild — mostly out of a dislike for all advertising and a false notion that the appearance of dignity can create dignity and integrity (and support higher fees) — keeps trying to find loopholes and trying to cloud the constitutional issues.

    Comment by David Giacalone — September 16, 2004 @ 12:50 am

  10. UCL, I think you’re once again confusing a rather superficial version of dignity or “good taste” with honesty and integrity.  “Sleazy” means dishonest, corrupt or of low quality — which is a lot different than “tacky” (which comes down to not being aesthetically acceptable to some elitist segment of the population).
    As I know you agree, some of the most honest and ethical people on this planet have very low social status by conventional measures.   Wanting to live up to the highest standards of honesty and ethics has nothing to do with social status or feeling superior to others — it is a core desire to uphold obligations, to take responsibilities seriously, to put the client’s interests first.   Far from arrogance, it is born of humility — of being truly humbled and honored to be given the trust of our clients (rather than being “proud” to be part of a privileged elite).   
    Step back and think about this, UCL, because it is very important to the soul of the profession and the people in it.  We have to separate notions of the profession’s social status from those of social service and obligation.   Don’t make the mistake of thinking that true nobility of spirit comes from “better” taste and outward appearances.    “Esquires” carry the shields and tend the horses of the people they serve, they are not the lord of the manner deigning to stoop to help the peasants.
    P.S.  As far as I can tell, the constitutional problem has nothing to do with crests or dogs and is not the least bit difficult — if the information in the ad is not false or deceptive (or demonstrably injurious to a vulnerable client), it can’t be prohibited.   The legal profession/guild — mostly out of a dislike for all advertising and a false notion that the appearance of dignity can create dignity and integrity (and support higher fees) — keeps trying to find loopholes and trying to cloud the constitutional issues.

    Comment by David Giacalone — September 16, 2004 @ 12:50 am

  11. FYI to readers: Don’t miss Evan Schaeffer’s discussion of our UCL and his weblog.

    Comment by David Giacalone — October 13, 2004 @ 12:37 pm

  12. FYI to readers: Don’t miss Evan Schaeffer’s discussion of our UCL and his weblog.

    Comment by David Giacalone — October 13, 2004 @ 12:37 pm

  13. The problem with unreasonable restrictions on lawyer advertising is that these restrictions scare lawyers into doing almost NO advertising.

    This is not a problem for potential well-to-do clients, since those folks generally get legal representation through their social networks.

    But poorer people often rely on TV, print ads, etc. to help them find a lawyer.

    If those channels of marketing were dampened, it would deprive a poorer folks of what is sometimes their only means of finding a lawyer.

    Comment by Kevin T. — April 4, 2005 @ 11:00 am

  14. The problem with unreasonable restrictions on lawyer advertising is that these restrictions scare lawyers into doing almost NO advertising.

    This is not a problem for potential well-to-do clients, since those folks generally get legal representation through their social networks.

    But poorer people often rely on TV, print ads, etc. to help them find a lawyer.

    If those channels of marketing were dampened, it would deprive a poorer folks of what is sometimes their only means of finding a lawyer.

    Comment by Kevin T. — April 4, 2005 @ 11:00 am

  15. Well said.  Thanks for taking the time to add your thoughts, Kevin.

    Comment by David Giacalone — April 4, 2005 @ 3:53 pm

  16. Well said.  Thanks for taking the time to add your thoughts, Kevin.

    Comment by David Giacalone — April 4, 2005 @ 3:53 pm

  17. Thank you for the info. http://www.bignews.com

    Comment by Sofia — August 25, 2005 @ 3:40 am

  18. Thank you for the info. http://www.bignews.com

    Comment by Sofia — August 25, 2005 @ 3:40 am

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