Advertising Self-Quiz








As a newly admitted estates lawyer, you try to drum up business by placing an ad in the Yellow Pages. You figure you can make use of your skills on behalf of clients with simple will issues. So your ad states, “You need a will? If you have a simple estate, I’ll only charge $500.00.” Jezeberl comes into your office and retains your services. She fills out a standard form designed to help you learn about her assets. As soon as you look at it, you realize it’s not a simple estate. There are assets numerous and tangled. You think about what kind of work the will might require, and realize that if you only charged $500.00 you would hardly be able to pay your electricity bill for the month. So you tell Jezeberl that the job will cost her $3000.00. She reports you to the Committee on Lawyer Advertising for a false and deceptive ad. Are you subject to discipline?
Choice 1 Probably not, because your ad was not false or deceptive.
Choice 2 Yes, because Jezeberl thought she was only going to have to pay $500.00.
Choice 3 Yes, because a lawyer must not quote a price if he will not stick to it.
Phred is a personal injury lawyer who places an ad on the "A" train. The ad states a contingent fee arrangement for prospective clients: "You lose your case, we get nothing. You win or settle, we take 1/3. It's as simple as that!"; A client comes in with a wrongful death claim. Both the client and Phred are perfectly aware that a victory or settlement in the case could be valued in the millions. Phred's mouth waters. He asks the client for $1000.00 for assorted litigation fees. The client tells Phred that Phred's ad said nothing about what a client must pay up front for initial litigation fees. Phred says, "What's $1000.00 when you stand to make millions on this case?" The client is upset because he is an indigent single father. What would an ethics committee hold?
Choice 1 The added litigation expenses do not have to be quoted in the advertisement – it’s the same with a product that does not account for sales tax in an advertisement.
Choice 2 The added litigation expenses should have been mentioned in the text of the advertisement, and failure to do so constitutes deception.
Choice 3 The added litigation expenses probably should have been mentioned in the advertisement, but it’s a minor infraction that does not rise to the level of an unethical practice.
Barnabas Saim states in an advertisement that he graduated from Harvard Law with a J.D., earned magna cum laude honors, and was editor of the Law Review. A competing personal injury lawyer lodges a complaint with the Committee on Lawyer Advertising, saying that Barnabas is in violation of the prohibition against comparing yourself with other lawyers in an advertisement. What will the Committee hold?
Choice 1 The competing lawyer is correct, because by stating his credentials in such a fashion, Barnabas is unethically comparing himself to other lawyers.
Choice 2 The competing lawyer is correct, because Barnabas’s credentials will deceive people into hiring him just because he has brand-name associations.
Choice 3 The competing lawyer was incorrect, and Barnabas may cite his credentials in the advertisement without being subject to discipline.
Shrikant places an advertisement in the Yellow Pages stating that he specializes in tax law and that he has represented Yankee owner George Steinbrenner in tax matters. He also states that he has been serving the good citizens of the Bronx for 30 years. For what has he exposed himself to discipline?
Choice 1 Stating he specializes in tax law.
Choice 2 Stating he’s Steinbrenner’s former lawyer, unless Steinbrenner gave written permission.
Choice 3 Stating both that he specializes in tax law and that he’s Steinbrenner’s former lawyer.
Lawyer Sheelah Cilantro advertises on a local cable television station. A client of hers agreed to go before a video camera to honestly state how she felt about Sheelah. Sheelah’s goal was to capture her clients on video in a natural fashion, hopefully to convince prospective clients that she was also “for real.” Sheelah’s client was very satisfied with the legal services she obtained, having just settled for $50,000.00 with an insurance company on a personal injury claim. The client states in the commercial, “I struggled forever with an insurance company to get money I deserved. When I hired Sheelah, she took the matter into her own hands and showed me the money. Hire Sheelah – I’m telling you, she’ll show you the money, too!” Is Sheelah subject to discipline?

Choice 1 No, because Sheelah portrayed a satisfied client in a truthful, non-deceptive fashion.
Choice 2 Yes, because Sheelah’s commercial creates unjustified expectations in the mind of the viewer.
Choice 3 Yes, if Sheelah did not state in her commercial that she might not always achieve victory for a client.
Choice 4 Choices (b) and (c) are both correct.
Lawyer Jordi Savant’s Yellow Pages advertisement shows him, in one picture, playing racquetball with a judge in his black robes. In another picture, Jordi is shown with a robed judge proposing a toast in a restaurant. In actuality, the “judge” is a family court judge with whom Jordi went to law school. Is Jordi nonetheless subject to discipline?
Choice 1 No, because the judge is in fact a friend of Jordi’s.
Choice 2 Yes, because Jordi is leading the public to believe he has special influence with judges.
Choice 3 Yes, but only if Jordi is not really friendly with the judge.
Lawyers Zoltan and Jorg place an advertisement for their services in the local newspaper. They call their firm “The Practice.” Their advertisement consists solely of the word “advertisement,” the name “The Practice,” their address, phone number and email, and states that they specialize in trusts and estates. What is missing from the advertisement that subjects Zoltan and Jorg to discipline?
Choice 1 Fee information.
Choice 2 Either Zoltan’s or Jorg’s name.
Choice 3 Information related to the certifying organization for their specialization.
Lawyer Jerry Makubuya airs a television commercial for his services on a local station. It is a rather simple advertisement (made on a phenomenally low budget on digital video) featuring Jerry discussing his services. The commercial only aired once, because Jerry decided he didn’t think it successfully communicated things about his practice that clients would find attractive. He threw away the disc containing the commercial and started afresh on another one. The next advertisement was also very simple, made again on digital video. The only material difference in the second advertisement was that Jerry discussed his specialty in greater detail, personal injury law and medical malpractice. Why might Jerry be subject to discipline?
Choice 1 If he didn’t properly state the certifying organization that approved his specialization.
Choice 2 Because he aired a commercial only once before changing it immediately, the public might think he had something to hide.
Choice 3 If he did not keep a copy of the first commercial.
Two respected partners in a law firm, Bulghar and Mheat, are a bit concerned about the advertisement they placed on a billboard six months ago. They heard they have been the butt of some jokes related to the name of their firm, which is appropriately Bulghar & Mheat, P.C. Bulghar and Mheat therefore agree to hire a billboard artist to redo their advertisement, calling their firm “Johnson & Smith, P.C.” instead. Are Bulghar and Mheat subject to discipline?
Choice 1 Probably, because their new trade name would be misleading, since there is no one in their firm named Johnson or Smith.
Choice 2 Probably not, because lawyers are entitled to use a trade name for their firm
Choice 3 Probably, because lawyers may not change advertisements after having run them for a month or more.
Attorneys Derekk Ding and Flaura Seitan worked together in a law partnership under the name Seitan and Ding, L.P. for many years. They had a thriving practice on a busy city street right next to a major shopping mall. Flaura started getting antsy when she turned 55. She thought about retiring to Scottsdale, where a number of her friends had already moved, and where her favorite sweater store was located. Derekk was disconsolate upon realizing that Flaura was going to leave the practice. It was as if he were going through a turbulent divorce. When Flaura finally split, Derekk was in denial. He never changed the firm’s trade name, and continued to practice under Seitan and Ding, L.P. Flaura never knew about this, partly because she is not involved in the practice of law. Might Derekk be subject to discipline?
Choice 1 Yes, because the trade name he uses is false and misleading.
Choice 2 No, because Flaura doesn’t practice law anymore.
Choice 3 Yes, because Derekk no longer has any business association with Flaura.

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