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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

The TV Ad Wars for Clients: “Local law firms increasingly go negative against national firms i

TV advertising for clients is a fact of life. But, one problem (in my view) arises from internet recruiters who are with law firms, but the firms cannot and do not try cases. Therefore, instead, they just add another mouth to be fed at the table, thereby probably reducing the recovery of person who does have a legitimate claim.

Some plaintiff lawyers are now fighting back with new ads that decry the recruiters. The story is told in an April 4, 2016 article from media specialists at Kantar. The opening section of the article is set out below, but there is much more to read:

“Local law firms increasingly go negative against national firms in TV ads

If it sounds like a new reality television show, it almost is. Trial lawyers who advertise on TV also watch it, clearly, as even they are taking note of the ubiquity of their commercials, with locally and regionally based firms using the opening to attack their national competitors in this fiercely contested ad space.


Trial lawyers appear to be noticing their ascendancy on the nation’s television screens—whether through anecdotal evidence or focus groups—as they have become self-referential in their creatives. This messaging typically consists of their urging viewers to retain their services because they are a local business, attacking larger competitors who advertise on TV as usually referral lines operating at the behest of uncaring national firms.

The Prim Law Firm, based in West Virginia, is up with two commercials this year touching on both asbestos exposure and “national law firms trolling for mesothelioma cases here in West Virginia. To national firms, you’re just another number.” Sokolove Law Offices, a national leader in legal advertising, begins one of their recent ads with stereotypical messaging meant to capture the viewer’s attention but then acknowledged, “Many of you tune out these commercials.”

KEY NUMBERS$531Mspent by law firms on TV advertising in 2008$900Mspent in 2015 As the chart above indicates, spending on ads containing these messages is back on the upswing after experiencing a dip in recent years. After a high exceeding $2.1 million in 2012, CMAG can project $1.5 million in spending on ads containing these messages in 2016 assuming the current spending trend holds.

Detroit-based attorney Geoffrey Fieger leads this particular pack. He has aired these sorts of ads 743 times this year. The colorful, mercurial Fieger opines, “Every day, people are forced to settle for less than they need or deserve. Why? Because their lawyer doesn’t really try cases; they only advertise on TV and never go to court.”

Florida-based Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley is a distant second with 377 airings of legal ads decrying other legal ads. In their ads, the firm takes the appearance of leveling with the viewer with this text on screen: “We get it. There are a lot of lawyer ads on TV. Seems all you hear are lawyers talking. So, this 30 seconds of silence is brought to you by Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley…”

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