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5 Lawyer TV Commercial Stereotypes That Have to Go

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on October 10, 2014 9:10 AM

TV commercials are an integral part of lawyer advertising and marketing. If you go too far outside the mainstream, people will make fun of you (and we have).

On the other hand, some standbys of lawyer TV ads are so trite and overused that they've become parodies of themselves. Don't you fall victim to that! (Points out of monitor at reader.) If you're going to do TV advertising, do your best to avoid these five silly stereotypes:

1. Standing in Front of Books.

Please, spare potential clients a shot of you standing or sitting in front of a bookshelf full of dusty old "legal-looking" books. All of us know that lawyers don't use books anymore, and hopefully the public is starting to notice that as well. If your office is spending valuable money on old reporters, then we might have to question the firm's judgment.

2. Breaking Through the Fourth Wall.

Lawyer TV commercials regularly break the fourth wall -- in the sense that if they could come out of the TV, they would. Attorneys in TV ads sure do a lot of pointing ("We'll work for you!" or "We'll get money for you!"). Thanks for pointing at me, but I know who I am, and I'm probably the only person in the room, seeing as how it's either noon on a weekday or midnight, the times most lawyer TV commercials seem to come on.

3. American Flags.

We get it: You're patriotic to a fault. You love your country, you love the Constitution, and you'll fight for our barbecue. But what does patriotism have to do with being a good lawyer? Double secret points on this one if there's some other American symbol in your commercial, like a bald eagle. (And yes, I just watched a lawyer TV ad containing both an American flag and the Statue of Liberty.) The only time there should be a bald eagle in your commercial is if you specialize in Endangered Species Act litigation or you're willing to be paid in salmon.

4. Sound Effects.

It's hard to create a commercial out of just some guy talking, so some lawyer TV commercials try to jazz it up with sound effects -- usually space-age future "pews," "swishes," and "zooms" whenever new bullet points come in. What is this, an awful PowerPoint presentation? Crazy sound effects are jarring, and you're not trying to sell used cars.

5. A Grave or Somber Soundtrack.

Usually when some kind of cancer or a heart attack is involved in a potential claim, the soundtrack for the commercial sounds like the one from "Schindler's List." That doesn't make me want to call a lawyer; it makes me want to call a therapist. Leave the violins and solitary trumpets at home and either come up with something more neutral -- heck, even upbeat -- or forego a soundtrack altogether.

Are there any other tired lawyer TV commercial clichés that make you wince? Let us know via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).

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