Tomorrow and Friday, we’ll be shooting more TV and web content for The Trial Professionals. Over the years they’ve been one of our favorite clients, not just because they invest in good production value so we can use the better gear and create a nicer look, and not just because they give us a lot of creative freedom to develop and deliver interesting material.
Those things are both important, but they’re mainly one of our favorite clients because they’re fundamentally good people. We’ve been working closely with them several times a year since 2009, and you don’t spend that much time dealing with people and not get a sense of their character. I know that attorneys get a bad rap (and personal injury attorneys have an especially poor reputation) but I’ve had personal experience with them enough to trust Piercy and his team to do the right thing for the right reason.
Why should you care? Well, you’re under no obligation to (although I do appreciate your taking the time to read this), but the real point has more to do with recent changes in the way the the Florida Bar Association regulates advertising for the legal profession.
Since we produce TV commercials for attorneys, we have to keep up what they’re allowed to say and what can get an ad rejected in Florida. Up until very recently, attorneys were forbidden from mentioning specific results in their advertising. Sure, if you’re interested in a law firm and you call or click and they can tell you everything you want to know – but advertising deals with the stuff that goes out in front of everybody whether they asked or not. So that means they can’t talk about past case outcomes, dollar figures of legal settlements, etc. because they can mislead by suggesting that someone else could expect to get the same result.
But last year, the Florida Bar decided that essentially it would be OK for attorneys to talk about the money they’ve gotten for their clients, and/or to let their clients offer testimonials for the firm in which they can talk about how much money they got. Great idea, right?
You can imagine what followed. In fact, you probably witnessed it all over your TV and plastered over every other billboard on I-4. “Tony Shaloub got me $10 million dollars!” “Bob Loblaw got me a huge cash settlement!” It was pretty tacky stuff, and they all hit it pretty hard.
Well, not all of them. The Trial Professionals sat back and watched. They wanted to take advantage of the new rules allowing for testimonials, but not to talk about money; to talk about the quality of their clients’ experiences working with them. They’ve always prided themselves on very personal service, tremendous attention to detail, shielding their clients from the fracas between insurers and opposing attorneys, and keeping their clients up to speed on everything that’s going on. Sure, they have a track record of great results, but no group of their size can compete with the total numbers that a giant law firm with hundreds of lawyers spending millions on advertising can post. That would be like comparing your local family-owned steakhouse to a McDonalds by asking how many customers they had last year.
I’m glad to be shooting tomorrow with a client who gets money for his clients, but would rather be judged based on how well he treated them as people. And that’s where today’s post title comes from. Author Matthew Kelly (sorry, Facebook, it wasn’t Albert Einstein) said that if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life thinking it’s stupid. Everything today is focused on money as the defining element of success. And as long as we all agree that that’s how we judge it, then we can be as avaricious as we choose in the name of the almighty dollar. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could judge success by things like integrity, kindness, and the quality of our relationships with the people around us?
I’m not a lawyer, but I think that’d be pretty sweet.