Don't Mess With Texas (at least not its lawyers): Is there no such thing as bad publicity?

Is there no such thing as bad publicity when it comes to lawyer marketing?

When Irish author Brendan Behan said, “There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary”, he was referring to the attention he got from his drunken public appearances, on both stage and television.

Nonetheless, he may as well have been talking about Joe Jamail’s, now notorious, Texas-style deposition.


But does the “no such thing as bad publicity” idea really apply to lawyer marketing?  Perform a simple search for Mr. Jamail in google, and it becomes quite obvious that his reputation as a trial attorney is highly celebrated.  And he certainly isn’t alone.  The internet is filled with lawyer videos and advertisments depicting completely unprofessional, if not unethical, behavior.  But based on the sheer volume of lawyers that engage in these tactics, they must be working, right?

Perhaps “bad publicity” is simply a matter of opinion.  While my reaction to the “Texas-style deposition” was appalled, many people responded quite differently.

“Wow, what a fighter!”, “I’d like to have him fighting for me”, and “I wouldn’t want to face him”, were just a couple of the “positive” responses I have heard from others.

Now I certainly don’t consider myself self-righteous, but perhaps many of us have come to believe that cursing, insults, and threats a good lawyer make.

In any event, before engaging in this type of “lawyer marketing” strategy, you may want to consider the broader ramifications of such an approach (I understand that Mr. Jamail is no longer welcome to practice in Deleware, not that he cares).

Other consequences may include, losing professional relationships, high blood pressure, and getting your a** kicked!

While I don’t agree with many of the arcane, inflexible, and downright arbitrary attorney advertising rules, I do believe that some degree of lawyer marketing professionalism should be encouraged, if not mandated.

I am sure my criticism of such tactics will be met with, “Well he’s made millions with that lawyer marketing approach.”

This, I cannot deny.  However, in my professional experience, success with this type of “style” is the exception, not the rule.  Whether you’re a Boston bankruptcy lawyer or a Los Angeles civil rights attorney, the likelihood of benefitting from such an approach is low.

Call me weak.  Call me idealistic.  Call me “big-boy.”  But don’t say I didn’t warn you.