Carolyn Elefant at MyShingle has posted about DivorceEZ.Com and attorney Steve Miller's problem getting approval by the Florida Bar for his TV spot. The Florida bar says The ad is a "verbal depiction" whose language promises a particular result, both of which are banned in Florida. In short, the Florida Bar has banned the 1st Amendment. You cannot "verbally depict" the services you are attempting to provide? As for promising a particular result, that is a problem in Texas as well. You just have to state you "may" be able to "get rid of that vermin you call a spouse".
The point of the matter for me is this. I do not like the spot. (I do not like it Sam I Am, I do not like when lawyers that act like hams). But, I do not like Judge Judy, Murry, or Jerry Springer (when it was on). I flip around the channels at lunch, and if I see one more trashy girl going ballistic over which one of the many men who might be the father of her child, awaiting the paternity test, (and, I am not just talking about Anna Nicole Smith), I think I might just off myself. It is not what motivates me. But it does to some people. Some people, like me, are turned off by this type of TV spot. Some people gravitate toward the hyperbole. Further, some people desperately need the services, at the price, this lawyer is offering. Nobody has demonstrated he is doing a bad job for his clients. Nobody is accusing him of not doing what he says he will do. No client is filing a grievance asking him to stop the ad. Only the Bar-tenders are not happy.
As I understand it, Florida, like Texas is a no fault divorce state. That being true, how is Mr. Miller promising a particular result he cannot deliver? It is not as if you cannot to get a divorce unless the judge agrees. You have a right to divorce. All Mr. Miller is promising is that if you can agree on property division and petition the Court, he will get it done for you. WOW! Is that a misrepresentation or what? We need to get serious for a moment. Mr. Miller's TV spot is not too serious, but stopping him from running it is.
The truth is really this -- the Florida Bar is trying to regulate good taste. I tend to agree with the Florida Bar's definition of good taste (or lack thereof) in this case. But, the problem is that who put me or the Florida Bar in charge of what constitutes good taste? Heck, I do not like personal injury lawyers yelling at me over the TV, but then I am not the one injured that might need to hear what they are saying. They are a nuisance to me for the very reason that I do not need them.
Florida, like many other states and bar organizations, needs to get out of the censorship business. You can call it what you wish, but that is what it is. It is hard to believe that Florida has a legitimate state interest in prohibiting this type of TV spot. They are not concerned about the perception this might cause the legal profession in the state. The Bar-tenders are concerned that the ad might work. After all, if the spot does not work, it will not be on the air very long. (I know way too much about the high cost of TV advertisement to think otherwise). On the other hand, if it is successful in drawing business in, then how does the ad harm the perception of legal profession.
Look, I care very much for my wife. I think the feeling is mutual. I do not think of her as vermin, and I do not think she thinks of me this way either (at least most of the time). But, there are people that are in very bad marriages. They do think this way. They do not like each other. They feel victimized by their relationships. Again, watch daytime TV if you do not believe this. Those shows would not be on the air if there were not a lot of people watching. Should these people not have an advocate in the law? Should they not have someone that speaks to their needs and opinions? Should they not be presented an option they might be able to afford just because the Bar does not like the way it is packaged?
Also, I might add, except for the trade name, if you insert a "may" in that TV spot, I could almost guarantee you that I could eventually get that spot approved in Texas. Or course it will cost you $75.00 for the censorship committee to view the spot.