An all-female law firm in Chicago that specializes in domestic law drew fire (and new business) over the past week for putting up a billboard downtown that features the slogan, “Life’s Short. Get a Divorce.”
The billboard also has a couple of racy pictures, apparently suggesting that the people in the pictures are out there waiting for you if you would just get that divorce and live a little.
Corri Fetman of Fetman, Garland & Associates told ABC that “Law-firm advertising is boring . . . Everything’s always the same. It’s lawyers in libraries with a suit on and the law books behind them. They don’t say anything. . . . So we wanted to try something different.” And there are no suits involved in this ad, that’s for sure.
Other attorneys who work in the same field criticized the billboard, saying it trivialized divorce. They were also quoted using terms such as “grotesque,” “undignified,” “offensive,” “absolutely disgusting,” “bizarre,” “a disappointment,” and “the Academy Award of bad taste.” So there are some ethical domestic-law attorneys out there—well, either they’re more ethical or pissed they didn’t think of it first.
And it was effective—Fetman also said that calls to their firm have gone up dramatically since the billboard went up last week. This week, however, the billboard was taken down, after a city alderman who lives nearby claimed that the firm did not have a permit for the billboard and ordered the building inspector to take it down. Fetman and Garland claimed a due process violation (although First Amendment might be more like it). “We own that art,” she said. “I feel violated.”
A bar complaint has also been filed, but an expert was quoted as saying that the bar committee rarely takes action on attorney advertising because of the constitutional issues involved, unless a clear misrepresentation is involved. Example: recently it disciplined an attorney who was advertising on a local Polish-language radio station with an ad that featured “jungle noises” and then a voiceover in Polish saying “I am the lion of the courtroom.” And he might have been lion-like, but it turned out he had never tried a case.