One of the reasons I wrote the book “The Shocking Truth About Lawyer Advertising,” was to use my experience as an attorney to break down confusing lawyer advertising lingo so everybody can understand what lawyers are saying. If you are a Washington State resident, you can get the book for FREE by clicking the book title above. I strongly urge everybody to check the book out, but before you do so, here are some explanations of the most commonly used phrases by lawyers on television and in the Yellow Pages.
1.) “No fee if no recovery!” – This phrase is used a lot by personal injury lawyers in advertisements, but it is meaningless. Every Seattle personal injury lawyer has this same policy. Essentially, if the lawyer does not recover any money for you, then you do not have to pay them anything beyond their out of pocket expenses. These out of pocket expenses are for routine expenditures on your case such as hiring expert witnesses and filing fees. So when you here this phrase in an advertisement, keep in mind that every lawyer will have that same policy, so it should not be a factor in hiring an attorney.
2.) “Free initial consultation!” – This phrase means exactly what it sounds like, but as is the case in the no fee if no recovery policy above, this is the standard practice for almost every single injury attorney. The reason almost every injury attorney does this is because if you have a good case, everybody wants it. The cost to the lawyer of offering a free consultation will be more than made up for with a case that brings a high settlement. This is true to the point that if you have a good case, but are injured, most lawyers will go to you if you request them to do so.
3.) “The best lawyer in XZY County!” – This kind of advertising really disturbs me. It is a completely subjective statement that has no real meaning behind it. It is also highly unethical, and the Washington State Bar will likely come down with harsh measures on a law firm that says something like this. Even if this statement is based off of a poll of the local population, it is not factual and cannot be proven in any way.
4.) “28 years of combined experience” – Another totally meaningless phrase. Combined experience can be a very misleading term, because a firm with 28 years of experience could very well be 7 lawyers with 4 years of experience each. A lot of times this combined experience has absolutely no correlation to substantial experience for each attorney.
5.) “Quick settlements in 30 days or less” – Phrases like these really scare me, because I know that they can trick some people into thinking it is a positive thing. As I have written in previous articles, an attorney who settles cases quickly every time will not be able to get you a good settlement. Insurance companies know which attorneys are willing to take a case to court. A lawyer who only settles cases fast gives the upper hand to the insurance companies immediately upon discussions about a reasonable settlement. There is simply no reason for an insurance company to offer good money for a case if they know that the lawyer has promised to settle it fast.