The History of Lawyer Advertising (Part A)

In my many years of practice, and even before that, I've seen hundreds, probably even thousands of examples of lawyer advertising. Even non-lawyers are familiar with lawyer advertising because it's found pretty much anywhere professional services advertise themselves.

Legal marketing relies on some form of lawyer advertising to get your name out there and grab your clients' attention. Your lawyer advertising is your hook, and then once your client is caught, your legal marketing methods reel them in. I've got an article that explains the difference between marketing and sales, but we're here to discuss the history of lawyer advertising.

The History of Lawyer Advertising

There was a time when lawyers weren't allowed to advertise. Legal marketing was unheard of and word-of-mouth was pretty much your only option to drum up new business besides the name on your door. Way back in the day, there was even the concept of the "family lawyer" who had served your father's legal needs, and maybe even your grandfather's needs.

All of this longevity and personal connection changed in 1977 when two Arizona lawyers decided they'd start advertising "low prices" to drum up more business among a sea of high-fee lawyers. Prior to this, the best way to find a lawyer was to go talk to one, or know someone who already used a certain law firm.

When these ads hit the papers other lawyers went up in arms. They wanted to put a stop to it because suddenly their fees looked outrageous. Unless a client tracked down fee quotes from multiple lawyers there was really no way to tell if they were ripping you off or not.

The bar association tried to ban the new lawyer advertising as well. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court before they finally ruled that "yes," lawyers could advertise. What followed was a long history of badly designed advertisements, yelling matches, stereotypes, and poorly developed legal marketing strategies.

Keep reading to learn about how lawyer advertising has evolved over the years into the unique methods we teach at Great Legal Marketing.

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Ben Glass
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Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.