By Paul Hogan
“You know why everyone thinks that all lawyers are backstabbing, bloodsucking scumbags? ‘Cause they are!” – Erin Brockovich
‘Cause, I am one, a lawyer that is, although I prefer to think not a backstabbing, bloodsucking scumbag, I believe that feeling, that accusation and the characters lines were because Brockovich thought she was going to be taken advantage of, screwed by her boss, a lawyer, and that he was going back on his word of paying a big bonus. (Side note: Real-life Erin Brockovich’s maiden name was Pattee and she was born and raised in Kansas – and was played wonderfully by Julia Roberts in the 2000 feature film.)
Studies show that people do have this opinion about lawyers. Interestingly it’s not all lawyers – they think their lawyer is a good guy, (like Andy Griffith as Matlock). That their lawyer is looking out for their interest, he is in their corner, and has there back in a situation/legal matter that they are not familiar with, laws, rules, and process. Further, that the backstabbing bloodsucking scumbag lawyer is representing the other side, their opponent.
What do you think? Do you think all lawyers are backstabbing, bloodsucking scumbags l like the line in Erin Brockovich? Do you think TV ads have any impact on peoples’ opinions of lawyers?
When I was a television advertising lawyer I used a Hollywood actor with Hollywood good looks, a great voice and convincing acting. Do you remember Robert Vaughn, the star in the hit TV series The Man from Uncle? Years earlier he was in the great Western, The Magnificent Seven, with Yul Brenner, Steve McQueen, and James Colburn – what great casting.
Anyway, the new lawyers’ TV Ads are using animals: First there’s a lawyer riding a big bull and then the newest animal ad has a lion which roars. It makes me think, “bulls and lions and lawyers . . . oh my!”
I may not have a bull to sit on or a roaring lion at the end of my TV ad, but the one thing these new lawyer TV Ads don’t have, which I do, is a 90 Day Guarantee.
I was put to the test of my new guarantee – my word – recently. I had begun working on a new clients’ case. I spent hours and some money on his behalf. Then he called and informed me I was discharged. He had hired the lawyer riding the bull. In years past I might have followed my gut reaction to file a claim, a lien, for the money and time I spent on his case. The challenge was living up to my guarantee where I promised him – and all my clients – that if they change their mind for whatever reason in the first 90 days I would not make claims for the money and time I spent on their case. So, I did the right thing, kept my word and did not make the claims as I promised.
Now, which would you rather have? An attorney riding a bull or who has a lion on his TV Ad or an attorney that lives up to their word? All I can say is, “bulls and lions and lawyers . . . oh my!!!”