How North Carolina Injury Lawyers Use TV Ads
One of the North Carolina injury law firms which advertises heavily on television in the Raleigh-Durham and Fayetteville areas uses Robert Vaughn, a TV and movie personality probably most famous for his role in "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.", in the firm's television advertisements. These ads usually end with the phrase, “We mean business.”
The injury law firm using these TV advertising tactics sued the North Carolina Bar Assocation because the NCBAR would not permit the law firm to televise an ad which contained a fictional dramatization that creates the impression that insurance companies that would otherwise contemplate bad faith tactics would decide to settle a personal injury claim at the mere mention of the attorney’s name.
The United States District Court upheld the NC Bar's prohibition of the use of lawyer advertising and found that it was inherently misleading. In so holding, the court noted that there was evidence presented by the head of the law firm itself that the head of the law firm:
HAD NEVER TRIED A CASE, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF SITTING AS SECOND CHAIR IN ONE TRIAL IN WHICH THE OPPOSING PARTY PREVAILED.
In addition, the court noted that there was evidence that no attorney in the law firm had ever tried a case under the trade name of that law firm. Farrin v. Thigpen, 173 Fed. Sup. 2d, 427.
That law firm's effort to have the court remove it's reference to the law firm's lack of trial experience was unsuccessful.
North Carolina is not the only state where citizens have been exposed to misleading lawyer advertising. The Supreme Court of Arizona found that a law firm’s advertisements implying that it was willing and able to try and actually did try, personal injury cases was misleading, where in fact no attorney at the firm had ever tried a personal injury case to a conclusion. In the Matter of Zang, 154 Arizona 134, 741 P.2d 267, 275 (1987).