Some Words About That Badass Lawyer Ad [Updated]

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It is, in fact, totally badass.

With that out of the way, here are a few minor criticisms.

First of all, lawyer advertising of course has to be true and not misleading. Beyond that, lawyers have a First Amendment right to advertise just like anybody else does. Here, the basic facts set forth in the ad are basically true. Sadly, Jamie Casino's brother and a female friend were killed in 2012 (a suspect has since been indicted). The local police chief made a statement that said "there were no innocent victims" in the incident, but later retracted that. There is of course no way to know whether any of this actually motivated Casino's switch from criminal-defense to personal-injury lawyer as he claims in the ad, but no reason to doubt it, either. So the facts stated appear to be true (although it's really not possible to check the accuracy of the ridiculous "reenactments").

There are, however, a few questionable choices we could discuss.

For one thing, ads can get a lawyer in trouble if they are "likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve…." Here, I don't think the Super Bowl ad does this—I'm thinking more of the earlier one that briefly appears in which Casino is throwing money (gold pieces, even!) at the camera. That might be interpreted to suggest that hiring Casino is a sure-fire way to get paid, but that is probably well within the kind of "puffery" that is allowed in advertising.

Then there is the fact that the name of the firm is "Casino Law." Yes, it is named after Jamie Casino, but "Casino" may not be his real name, at least judging from the fact that his brother's last name was "Biancosino." If he changed it to suggest hiring him would result in a big "payoff," that might be an issue, but if anything I think it weighs in his favor because winning at a casino involves significant risk. People may not realize that, but that's not his fault.

As Rolling Stone suggests, it is a little problematic that the ad depicts him desecrating a grave and smashing a grave marker, even if he does it with a flaming sledgehammer named after his dead brother and to a badass metal soundtrack. Georgia law doesn't seem clear on this, but that might well be criminal trespass or criminal damage to property in the second degree (had it actually happened). Even if we forgave him that particular act, writing "CASINO LAW" in huge flaming letters across the entire cemetery would definitely be an offense.

I guess the thing that comes closest to a real issue is the fact that Casino describes his former criminal-defense clients as "the most cold-hearted villains," the kind of person he doesn't represent anymore. Rule 1.6 (Confidentiality) requires a lawyer to keep confidential any information gained during a representation, including information that might be "embarrassing" to a former client if disclosed. Luckily for Casino, however, he doesn't mention any particular client, so I doubt this could be considered a breach of confidentiality. Personally I would be more concerned about the reaction of the cold-hearted villains themselves than I would about an ethics charge anyway.

Ultimately, the only real issue here is probably whether you think the ad is in bad taste. Well, OF COURSE it is in bad taste. But as the comments to the Georgia rules note, "questions of effectiveness and taste in advertising" are highly subjective. Regulating them too strictly would infringe on the First Amendment. Besides, it's not like this is the worst attorney ad out there. (Other examples for your perusal.)

At least in terms of production values. You have to admit it's totally solid there.

Update: Jamie Casino appeared on HuffPost Live yesterday to discuss the ad. He conceded the ad was a little "outrageous" but overall I think he comes across as pretty sincere. See what you think.