Casino Jackpot: Georgia Lawyer Becomes National Sensation With Local Superbowl Commercial

casino5n-4-webWhile the Superbowl was a bit of a bust, lawyer Jamie Casino is being widely heralded as scoring a touchdown with his local commercial during the game in Georgia where he tells his life’s story as an advocate for clients. Since I have already ventured into film critique this morning with the students of Columbia, I might as well say my peace about the film of Mr. Casino despite the overwhelming popularity of the commercial. I found the commercial below to be unprofessional and self-serving and just a bit creepy. What is striking about this story is that it was not long ago when such an advertisement would have been viewed as an ethical breach. I did not support those earlier rules against advertisements. However, Casino has a history of such commercials that trade content for flashy effects along the lines of a car salesman or infomercial pitchman.


Casino’s commercials has been called “moving” and “impressive” and even “the best commercial during the Superbowl” by national media and commentators. (I will not question the comparison with the other commercials since I have already expressed my view that this year’s selection was the worst in many years). For that reason, I was looking forward to watching it. I literally did a search to be sure that this was the commercial that everyone was talking about.

The commercial tells Casino’s story of how he represented “bad guys” until his brother was killed. It shows him with a stack of money in front of him with some drug dealer — advancing the stereotype of criminal defense lawyers and suggesting that what they do is morally wrong. (This follows a recent story where a criminal defense attorney is being opposed in a Senate confirmation hearing because he represented a notorious criminal). Casino heralds how he refused to represent bad guys any more in some moral epiphany. His morally uplifting change: he became a personal injury lawyer advertising like a cheap ShamWow salesman like the ad image below with faux magical fire:

commercial5n-7-web

I found the video to be uncomfortable to watch as Casino seems to live out his fantasy of being some action figure with tight jeans and a flaming sledgehammer with a cross on it. Sort of Nicholas Cage meets Clarence Darrow meets El Mariachi.

While some have said the commercial also tried to clear the name of Casino’s brother Michael Biancosino, 30, and Emily Pickels, 21, who were shot and killed in Biancosino’s vehicle during Labor Day weekend 2012, he seems much more about him. There is a legitimate grip about the insulting statement of then Police Chief Wille Lovett in a press conference, that “There were no innocent victims.” (Lovett, 64, who retired in October after the disclosure of sexual harassment allegations, actually said a week later that did not mean to imply Biancosino and Pickels were involved in impropriety but that they were the victims of mistaken identity. I fail to see how any professional police officer, let alone a chief of police, could say such a hurtful and frankly moronic thing). However, the commercial was about Casino not his brother and how he became this superhero champion of voiceless and innocent. Of course, the real superman does not normally require an hourly rate or contingency agreement before stopping the speeding train.

Casino has hit the jackpot with the commercial which has been viewed over 2.5 million times.

The standards for legal advertisements have been evolving from the time of a virtual prohibition (which clearly denies free speech) to what in some states is now a race to the bottom. Casino has in the past been leading that race to the bottom in his adverts. Georgia is one of the states that has abandoned the attempt to enforce standards of good taste and professionalism in advertisements. Rule 7.2 on advertisements states in the comments:

Questions of effectiveness and taste in advertising are matters of speculation and subjective judgment. Some jurisdictions have had extensive prohibitions against television advertising, against advertising going beyond specified facts about a lawyer, or against “undignified” advertising. Television is now one of the most powerful media for getting information to the public, particularly persons of low and moderate income; prohibiting television advertising, therefore, would impede the flow of information about legal services to many sectors of the public. Limiting the information that may be advertised has a similar effect and assumes that the bar can accurately forecast the kind of information that the public would regard as relevant.

The bar makes a good point on the subjectivity of such regulations. Unfortunately, attorneys like Casino have used the deregulation of adverts to display cheesy pitches with special effects and self-aggrandizing images. Here is an example of his work:

It makes you long for “Just Call Saul” as commercials with a modicum of dignity:

I am clearly in the minority on my response to the Superbowl ad but you can judge for yourself below.

Source: Ny Daily News

33 thoughts on “Casino Jackpot: Georgia Lawyer Becomes National Sensation With Local Superbowl Commercial

  1. Knowing nothing about Mr. Casino or his history, my first impression of the commercial is that the attorney either failed as a criminal defense litigator or crossed a professional boundary with his clients at the expense of his family. Now he appears to have settled, either out of fear or failure, for arguing insurance claims, which can be important and lucrative work, but is probably most often comparatively simple work. I thought the advertisement was really kind of embarrassing for Mr. Casino.

  2. Well, Professor, it would appear that your more recent efforts in “cleaning” up this realm has inspired a great level of prudence amongst the fold. So let me, the one ostracized by more than most, be the one to address your concerns appropriately.

    Phooey!

    It is easy for you to sit there in your lofty position, due to many people like me, who have admired your subject matter and candor heretofore. However, as of late, you are as full of yourself as your sling’d and arrow’d upon Mr. Casino.

    To self serve one’s opine, with millions of view-ee’s, simply because (in your opinion) this guy [Casino] is a black mark upon the profession; really is no different (and perhaps worse) than Mr. Casino’s.

    A person is a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10, of the people and issues he surrounds himself with most. Normally, I’d say you just dipped your quality upon the high road to a lower level muddle; but – of late – you’ve been pretty condescending. (In case you haven’t notice – the censorship has gotten a bit too much).

    Mr. Casino is selling a product – HIMSELF – and the commercial did just that.

    As for you, your product is (supposed to be) that of integrity, consideration for the down trodden; and activism for social/actual justice apropos.

    Furthermore, don’t speak to U.S. (especially me) about how super heroes are suppose to do stuff gratis. There are many (MANY) cases that you won’t touch because you are “too” middle of the road.

    You can keep it up (probably even delete these remarks);
    but – when you look in the mirror – remember the legacy you left!

  3. By the way – the only way one can afford to defend the helpless – is to make money from others, in order to be helpful.

    Even the Innocence Project needs funding and an abundance of free labor.

  4. “Better Call Saul.” I’m old enough to have worked in the legal profession prior to any advertisements being allowed by the Bar Association. It was a much better world.

  5. Here in Virginia we fought the battle of the “Best Lawyers” ads. The VSB caved and we lost. The Bar allows lawyers to find a publication that says they’re wonderful and then brandish that all over their TV and print ads etc. It’s bad form. Now everybody has to be the best at something. It’s crass.

  6. Sorry, Nick, it was not a “much better world” when states shredded the First Amendment in the process of banning attorney advertising. The remedy for bad speech isn’t banning such speech. The remedy is countering bad speech with good speech.

  7. In a world where the legal profession is made fun of (oft times, even by lawyers) and a bit of it – oft times – being well deserved and true; it is quaint to see honor and candor so open and free.

    Mr. Casino was wronged – as the ex authority’s recant does clearly show. Even the Professor himself agrees that the lawman was callous. Who of you, if your friend, family and/or someone you know – being gunned down – would not beg for deep pockets enough to go upon public TV with a campaign to clear their name; had “they” been disparaged in such a shameless way?

    And stop acting as if the Legal profession is so high and mighty above U.S. all. That is what is such complete BS that makes what Mr. Casino did so welcomed to the masses.

    This Blog/Blawg is given awards by the ABA.

    Mr. Casino is given his award by the people!

    And you “really” believe that “this” thread is above U.S. (and him)?

    Geniuses!

  8. Paul, So the answer is for a client, wronged by these advertising clowns, to spend more money taking out ads of how they were the victim of malpractice? And then get sued for libel?

  9. Some of the more successful plaintiff attorneys are good looking men. You start the trial ahead in the count w/ a jury.

  10. “…I did not support those earlier rules against advertisements. However, Casino has a history of such commercials that trade content for flashy effects along the lines of a car salesman or infomercial pitchman….”

    When the Supreme Court ruled that money is speech, it was the equivalent of lifting the old ban and allowing attorneys to advertise. But, that initial decision permits Mr. Casino to advertise in whatever way he chooses regardless of how offensive it might be to some or all. File this perhaps under unintended consequences.

    Similarly, by the SCOTUS falsely equating money with speech, it set up the slippery slope we all were forced slide down into the muck by the ill-decided, judicial activism of the abhorrent Citizens United ruling. Now, our elections, even at the local level, are tainted with the stink of big money interests like the Koch Bros., Sheldon Adelson, etc.

  11. I don’t care if you call them an “advocacy” firm – or what have you; they’re attorneys at law representing clients. I’ve always thought the hat was quirky; but it never leaves your mind.

    As a matter of fact, I reached out to them about it long ago. Was informed that it simply was a cold day when the commercial was filmed. Since then, all the flack from “professionals” disdaining, has fostered a hard stance (maybe, even in a reverse psychology sort of way).

    Here’s what it states upon their website and I CONCUR;

    Some people may say they don’t want to be represented by a guy who wears a hat. We think it’s what’s under the hat that counts. It leaves people with a choice: Hire the guy whose hat you think is odd, but gives you the best chance of winning your case, or go with a guy who doesn’t have Charles’ track record, but doesn’t wear a hat in real life, or in commercials.

  12. rcampbell;

    I believe that the U.S. Sup Ct was just thumbing its nose at the American citizenry by pointing out the obvious (in a subtle sort of way);

    that America’s policies are broad stroke of what the masses want (such as no longer banning non-straight marriages); and money, power and might make right.

    Why should what they people wish;
    get in the way of what money can buy?

  13. The comparison with Binder remains flawed. Although Binder is (or at least was) an attorney, the “advocacy” term is a specific term that distinguishes their services from the legal services of an attorney. The administrative process for determining disability, requires and advocate, not an attorney. An advocate is simply someone familiar with the process (the vast majority of disability advocates have zero legal education). I believe one of the reasons that Binder is not structured as a law firm is specifically to use non-attorney advocates. And, perhaps coincidentally, they would not be subject to the professional responsibilities and ethics that govern law firms.

  14. Balanced my butt – your going nutso here.

    That’s the problem with those in the legal profession making artful dodging their priority.

    You actually believe the rest of the world buys into the BS!

    Specifically use [ONLY] non attorneys

    Binder IS an attorney.

    END OF STORY!

    Sheessshhh

  15. Laser, you chose to claim that Mr. Spinelli was comparing apples to kumquats. You then compared Casino to Binder; a very flawed comparison because Binder (although he has a legal education and may still be a member of the bar) is not offering services that are regulated the way that Casino’s law firm services are, which is at the crux of Prof. Turley’s analysis.
    You need to find a better analogy.

  16. You know – Professor, I’ve offered (in the past) that I would waive my monies due, stolen from me and such – if justice would just come.

    They simply laughed and said I can’t waive what is already gone!

    What remains a reality, is the fact that I’m a tenacious, formidable opponent to Romney and his cohorts, even indigent. Hence, they could never have me returned to being a man of substance. (Because I would fight them on the web in ways just as powerful as Mr. Casino does).

    There are many cases – you and yours turn down – because you feel you don’t have the time (and some other babbling, banter obfuscating). Then you go and spend your time grandstanding on this stuff.

    So, I give you, the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (as this would be his B’day);

    “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: G-d will not hold U.S. guiltless.

    “not to speak is to speak.

    Not to act is to act”.

    We dang near elected a RICO boss as President of the United States (and now there’s much banter – with Christie’s inevitable demise – Pitten’s may run again).

    The pathological flip flopper, magic underwear wearing, LAWYER, believing he’ll be a G-d of his own planet one day, prophecy that he’ll ride a white horse in the White House, refusing to show records (after destroying Olympic and Governor one’s), saying its okay to lie when he gives 10% to, corporations are “people my friend” – Retroactive POTUS wannabe

    is breaking the law openly, due to federal corruption;

    because you think your Mr. Casino article is more worthy of your time!

  17. I would like to thank Mr. Casino for making a great effort to convince me not to hire him for any furture legal services. Now, there is no doubt I would go to another firm. The ads were like some over-the-top action movie, or more accurately a movie portraying the child of The Terminator and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    Thse ads reflect badly on the profession. I agree. Should something be one about it? Well that’s up to the bar association. I could go either way.

    I can see having an advertising program that has items to help people remember them. The hat with Binder & Binder being one of them perhaps and it is not really that bad in my view. Or to call Harold Carr for your car injury claims.

    But after I watched Mr. Casino’s ads, I thought we are stepping closer to what was shown in the movie Idiocracy.

  18. Lawyers who advertise are trying to buy a reputation. People who are dumb enough to go to see the lawyer on the billboard are dumb enough to get fleeced. They probably go to church and get fleeced by some Pastor. If you are up itShay creek and need a lawyer then go yak to folks at the courthouse and the legal community or at a good bar and learn who it is that is getting good results in your town. I bet it is not that schmuck who is on tv accentuating his southern accent or lying about his skills. Never go to a lawyer who advertises. They are paying for something which they don’t have– a reputation based on facts.

  19. How much pompous, snottiness, emotional babbling banter goes around. SHEESH! Again – Binder and Binder has been advertising for a LONGGGGgggg time. Is Binder “buying” a reputation? Does Coke and Pepsi – “BUY” a reputation when they advertise?

    For cryin out loud!

    This is now getting close to disparaging a party;
    simply because you don’t approve!

    Again – I say – SHEESH!

    When one is blessed that their family, connections and/or money gets them into Harvard; are they “buying” a reputation? The University is most certainly selling one!

    This is why SCOTUS is so full of hubris – that they simply don’t care;
    and why our nation was deprived of a “legitimate” GOP candidate last time.

    Our nation is so full of bull – that no one can see the plain truths anymore.

  20. Florida enacted some fairly strict advertising rules. I then moved to New Mexico and was reminded of the good ol’ days in Florida. One commercial showed a young woman in multiple casts and using crutches and a neck brace. The more the voiceover spoke, the more casts flew off, until by the end of the commercial she was smiling and dancing with fistfuls of money.

    Having moved back to Florida, it looks like the rules are still in place. One of the best commercials I’ve seen had the attorney talking about how he became an attorney. He was working in construction and received a serious back injury, bad enough that he couldn’t go back to doing what he did. So, during breaks in therapy, he went back to school and became a lawyer. Since my family has been in construction for decades, his story appealed to me. As it happens, I’ve followed some of his work and like it, so I’d probably contact him first if I needed a personal injury attorney. The commercial says simply “here is who I am and here is what I do”. It made no promises and certainly didn’t have bundles of money in client hands. I am uncomfortable with lawyer advertising, but the rules in Florida seem reasonable.

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