As consumers have a greater pool of qualified personal injury attorneys to choose from, lawyers have been forced to become more, ahem, "creative" in developing marketing tactics to attract potential clients.
At Davis Law Group, we believe that developing real, concrete relationships with our clients and providing them with the highest possible level of legal representation is the best way to establish a positive reputation. Taking this approach means we never engage in any form of direct solicitation or cold-calling of accident victims.
In Washington state, like many other states across the country, the bar association explicitly prohibits attorneys from directly soliciting potential clients. A lawyer is forbidden from showing up to an accident victim’s home or calling over the phone unsolicited, and could be sanctioned or even disbarred if found to be in violation of these rules.
However, one particular marketing tactic that has not been prohibited by the bar association and which often annoys and frustrates consumers is the use of direct mail advertisements that are sent to the homes of accident victims.
Ambulance Chasers and the “Shotgun Approach”
Although it may seem complicated, the process of obtaining the contact information for large groups of people who have been involved in a motor vehicle accident is relatively simple.
All an attorney needs to do is send a public records request to a police agency, such as the Washington State Patrol, and organize the information into one single list of names and addresses. Attorneys will typically put together a packet of flyers and other promotional items, throw a cover letter on top, and send it out to as many people from their list as they wish.
This “shotgun approach” to direct marketing is still a popular practice in many industries today. According to Experian, traditional offline marketing was a $93.6 billion industry in 2012 and direct mailing was expected to bring in nearly $45 billion in 2013.
The negative impact that these questionable strategies have on the legal industry as a whole is difficult to quantify, but it goes without saying that consumers already have mixed feelings about attorneys. When consumers receive direct solicitations from personal injury lawyers who have no way of verifying if that person is even in need of legal representation, it’s hard to imagine some of those negative perceptions changing course any time soon.
We are not here to tell you who you should or should not choose to hire in the event that you are in need of legal representation after an accident. However, it is important for consumers to have a proper understanding of the ways that some of these attorneys choose to market themselves and what those strategies say about the quality of the legal representation they are advertising.
Have you had a unique experience with questionable attorney advertising tactics? Share your story with us in the comment section below.