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Thoughts on marketing by law firms and the susceptibility of in-house attorneys to ads

Tom Wakefield, the general counsel of Cessna Aircraft, praises Stinson Morrison Hecker in an ad, one of which is in InsideCounsel, March 2008 at 54 (See my posts of May 27, 2007: five examples of senior lawyers in ads; and Jan. 18, 2008 #1: one more.). It is the small-print warning at the bottom of the ad that deserves profound thought: “The choice of a lawyer is important and should not be based solely on advertisements. (Mo. Sup. Ct. Rule 4-7-2).” I, too, side with the deliberations of Missouri’s highest court and plead with general counsel not to pick external counsel merely because they like the firm’s ads.

Silly, isn’t it, that the finest judicial minds of the Show Me State had to pause even a moment on this. Lay people might be manipulated by a billboard for a lawyer but in-house legal talent isn’t that gullible, right? Other aspects of marketing, however, may worm their way into a decision (See my post of March 23, 2006: pigments in graphic icons of firms; Nov. 27, 2007: brands and law firms, with references cited; July 4, 2006: effectiveness of law firm websites; Aug. 26, 2005: internet searches to find firms; Nov. 5, 2007: ineffectual marketing methods; Sept. 21, 2005 and Jan. 16, 2006: permission to refer to a client.).