Seven Lawyer Laugh-Test Fails


The law has a test for everything. There’s a test for when a corporation must disclose a material fact to its investors. A test for when a film is obscene. And there’s a test for when a particular argument is so ridiculous that it shouldn’t be made at all.

And then there’s the straight face/laugh test. While you won’t find it in any law book, the laugh test is an important tool in any lawyer’s arsenal. After all, it’s how you sort out the truly clever from the utterly absurd.

When it comes time for lawyers to drum up business on the Internet, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, and sometimes a select few forget to proctor the laugh test before they “go live.” The following online marketing attempts somehow went under the radar when someone asked if anyone could endure them with a straight face. Because if you could, they wouldn’t have ended up on this list.

1Does This Argument Fly? When a hole in a Southwest Airlines plane’s fuselage forced an emergency landing, the Parrish Law Firm wanted to get (sort of) close to the action via The Virginia Personal Injury Blog. That story teed up an issue close their hearts, and they didn’t wait long to swing into action, posting this message:

Should you or anyone in your family become injured while traveling on a commercial airplane, bus, or train, contact The Parrish Law Firm to discuss your situation.

Okay, we all need the business, and airlines certainly do commit their share of torts. But the key word is “injury.” And here’s what The Parrish firm had to say about that:

Although the event was horrifying and the plane was forced to make an emergency landing in West Virginia, none of the 126 passengers and 5 crew were injured on the flight.

How many injuries?  None. Unless, you count having to set foot in West Virginia. That might be worth something from the right jury.

2Bittersweet. Follow the facts closely on this one. In 2002, a New York worker fell into a vat of chocolate at a plant and died. In 2009, another chocolate worker in New Jersey suffered a similar fate. Now, suppose that you, a lawyer, had nothing to do with either case. What would you do?

Well, if you’re David Perecman, a New York personal injury attorney, you call your publicist and order up a press release pronto. Shameless plugs aside, we’ve got to give a special nod to Perecman for this gem:

According to the AP, the cocoa processing center where a worker died after falling into a large vat of melting chocolate was operating illegally. A bitter ending, says NYC personal injury lawyer David Perecman.

So here’s the logic: Odd case + Comment from lawyer who knows nothing about the case = A windfall of new business! Bittersweet indeed.

3Take a Bite Out of Repeat Offenders. There really should be a special category for the crackerjack team at The Parrish Law Firm—though they deserve an award for shrewd marketing. We’re not sure if they ever do any real legal work, but they sure are there in a hurry when calamity strikes. And in some cases, they have a book ready to go. Take the wave of baby-biting dogs, for example.

What wave, you ask?

Well, after combining a Fox News story about a dog bite situation in Indianapolis with a similar tale (less than a month later) in Kentucky, the team at Parrish expected a K-9 chomp epidemic to hit their state.  They concluded that Virginia residents had better read up on what to do if they or a loved one were ever attacked by a dog because, you know, it’s happening to everyone all over the place—each time a little closer to home.

This is where the Parrish-authored book comes in, and guess what, it’s FREE to Virginia residents!  As a follow-up to the book-club sensation The Virginia Car Accident Guide, they present the literary stylings of The Insider’s Guide to Dog Bite Claims in Virginia to the community.

4Chronic Clientele. Though we obviously, definitely have never been in trouble with the law, if we were to find ourselves in an outlaw-like pickle, we’d take comfort in knowing that a “Harvard-trained lawyer” is also “LA’s Dopest attorney.” That distinction means that “Legally Blonde meets Half Baked.” Allison Margolin could make sure that we were able to smoke pot while we’re on probation—and do it with Ivy League flair.

But it isn’t one of Margolin’s hazy ad campaigns that draws us to her.  What we love is this video. Presumably an attempt to drum up more criminal defense work, it got our attention, without a straight face. In it, Margolin predicts that notorious record producer Phil Spector would walk and explains that Spector was a “sympathetic figure.” That, combined with several holes in the DA’s case, would make an acquittal a no-brainer. Well, she obviously got that one wrong, and the DA managed to secure a conviction a year later. Spark it up. [Editor’s note: Margolin’s YouTube video has since been removed].

5Animal Instincts. Ever need a lawyer in Amsterdam or Curacao?  (Obvs.) Well, we hear the guys at Spigthoff personify the feathered friends you’ll want on your case.

No matter what the mood calls for, they’re the warm-blooded, winged beasts you need fighting for you. It’s like selling Petie to the blind kid.  “Pretty bird, pretty bird.”

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6Rhymin’ & Billin’. “If it does not fit, you must acquit,” Mr. Johnny once said. Well, it’s nice to know that such compelling poetic license and iambic pentameter didn’t die when Mr. Johnny did.

If you’ve ever been injured in a wreck, and you really, really, really need a check….

Really?

7Brother, Can You Spare An Hour? Now, here’s some really great spin:

Pro bono work for the poor and disadvantaged, performed by Signatories to the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge, increased by 558,413 hours, or 13 percent, in 2008, despite an economic recession that caused a contraction of the legal market including the shutdown of several law firms, according to a new report issued by the Pro Bono Institute.

Did they really just say that pro bono work is booming in this economy? Here’s what we want to know about those 558,413 extra hours: What paying business did it keep those lawyers from tending to instead? In fact, it’s a national trend.

Check out other lists, tallies and scores to settle in Bitter by Numbers.

Bitter Staff is a collection of current and former editors, contributors, and various other lawyers who have written for Bitter Lawyer over the years. Posts include interviews, contests, and other general lawyerly and bitter content.

14 Comments

  1. BL1Y

    July 30, 2009 at 6:22 am

    None of these seems particularly bad.  At least they’re not claiming “Everyone’s a winner.”

  2. Anonymous

    July 30, 2009 at 7:25 am

    those spigtoff ads are awful. are they real?

  3. Anonymous

    July 30, 2009 at 7:36 am

    bittersweet

  4. BL1Y

    July 30, 2009 at 8:09 am

    The Spigt Hoff ads are bad, but that that horrible.  They’re just failed puns.  Big whoop.  Obama has made worse “calibrations” in word choice.

  5. Anonymous

    July 30, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Whwat does “When things get smart, you want smart” even mean? haaha

  6. BL1Y

    July 30, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    I think Agent 86 can answer that for you.

  7. Guano

    July 30, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Gosh, this is dull, and it is not even Friday.  You would think the Bitter lawyer could do better on a Thursday.  As my friend Sam would say, Oy!

  8. BL1Y

    July 30, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    I considered using this boring article as an opportunity to once again ask that comments be added to the polls, but the poll today is even more boring that this.

  9. No-L

    July 30, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Regarding Margolin – what’s a “Harvard journalist”?

  10. Anon Female

    July 30, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    enjoyed the piece.

  11. Lawyer to be

    July 30, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    BL1Y I’m sure the BL appreciate you reading the blog, but I just wonder when do you work?

  12. Troll Hunter

    July 30, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Something tells me that BL1Y is one of the 10,000-plus legal professionals who have been laid off since this crisis began.

  13. Ellen

    July 31, 2009 at 3:01 am

    I like BL1Y is cool.  He’s the only kind of lawyer I would ever consider sleeping with.

  14. Robert

    August 15, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Keep driving traffic to the law firms you are making fun of. Maybe one day you can get a job with them

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