I have previously written about how some attorneys continue to ignore bar standards encouraging firms to show basic professionalism and decorum in advertising, including truly bizarre pitches for clients. The vast majority of lawyers show great restraint in deference to the standards of our profession. But there remains a minority of lawyers to have joined a race to the bottom in creating juvenile, unprofessional advertisements like Bryan Wilson in Texas. Wilson has opted for an obnoxious advertisement showing himself screaming about being the “Texas Law Hawk.” While many relish lawyers demeaning themselves and find this type of ad funny, it is a disgrace to the profession and no doubt an embarrassment to Texas Tech University where he acquired his legal education. Apparently, the lessons on professionalism did not stick with young Wilson despite reportedly graduating at the top of his class.
Wilson, 29, screams into a camera that he is “Bryan Wilson! Texas Law Hawk!” He appears to be modeling his law firm on the stereotype of a used car dealer or low-rent pitchman. As with many who pander to the lowest common denominator, it has brought him the notoriety that he so craves. His ad has garnered more than half a million views.
His law firm site proclaims that he is “Loud and proud of his Texas roots.” That much is obvious. He is also a loud and rather pathetic insult to the entire profession.
The problem is that we have to protect grotesque figures like Wilson in order to protect free speech. Many of us agreed with the Supreme Court that the regulation and prohibition on certain types of advertising was a denial of free speech. Law schools and bar associations have worked to convince attorneys to maintain the professionalism expected of lawyers and most do. Then there are the Bryan Wilsons who clearly care little for the profession or its values.
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.
It may be time that the bar associations need to develop a review process that publicly rates lawyers based on their professional standing, including the propriety and professionalism of their ads. While we may not be able take their licenses, we can inform the public of the lack professionalism of some lawyers and denounce those like Wilson to belittle our profession. Bar associations in my view have an institutional right to ranking lawyers based on their public conduct and adherence to professional standards. I also believe that aspects of Wilson’s ads raise serious ethical questions that could be brought before the bar. He appears to give legal advice on things like refusing to take breathalyzers. The blanket advice would likely be harmful or disadvantageous for some suspects.
The state bar rules include the following:
RULE 7.02 COMMUNICATIONS CONCERNING A LAWYER’S SERVICES
(a) A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the qualifications or the services of any lawyer or firm. A communication is false or misleading if it:
(1) contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading;
(2) is likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve, or states or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate these rules or other law;
(3) compares the lawyer’s services with other lawyers’ services, unless the comparison can be substantiated by reference to verifiable, objective data;
(4) states or implies that the lawyer is able to influence improperly or upon irrelevant grounds any tribunal, legislative body, or public official; or
(5) designates one or more specific areas of practice in an advertisement in the public media or in a written solicitation unless the advertising lawyer is competent to handle legal matters in each such area of practice.
It is hard to say whether these advertisements by Wilson crossed the line but it is certainly worth a review by the Texas bar. Of course, no one can prevent an attorney like Wilson from making a complete ass of himself. However, these ads combine sweeping legal claims with highly unprofessional communications. Surely someone in the Texas bar might want to take a closer look to consider whether young Wilson should pursue more suitable lines of work like pitching Demolition Derbies or selling Sham Wow packages.
32 thoughts on “Young Texas Lawyer Attracts Notoriety With Screaming “Texas Law Hawk” Ads”
I’m fairly certain he was just inspired by Old Spice commercials and decided to try to stand out with surreal humor… I actually thought it was pretty funny…
Jacoby and Meyer, they must be related to Joe Flom, from Skadeen arps meager and flom, or whatever they call themselves now, who I read about in Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers.” Basically, Gladwell says that Wall Street used to be run by racist WASP silkstocking boys. Then, hard working sons of Jewish immigrants from Poland to Brooklyn like Joe Flom, who grew up working hard at garment piecework, outfoxed the lazy WASPS who did not want to do this cool thing called “leveraged buy out.” Then eventually the smart hardworking Jews were in charge. I am not making this up– before you delete this, go read Gladwell’s book its in every barnes and noble for sure. Anyhow, I was thinking that around the time Jewess Ayn Rand enlightened America with her book “Morality of Capitalism” (ironically steve forbes is now running around with the same schtick) anyhow people in the Reagan era under her friend Greenspan found out the glories of unbridled economic freedoms… lets throw a law name in too since this is a law blog, Richard Epstein, he took of the “people who shall dwell alone,” enlightened us to the glories of capitalism being visited on us by the Drexels and the Millikens and the Boeskys of the time… google those names if you never heard of them… well, you get the drift. The point is, European-gentile culture is lazy and racist, they didn’t want to compete, now the hard working, egalitarian jewish emigrants from Europe and their sons and daughters have “tikkun olamed” our culture into place where we now have unbridled capitalism to encourage freedom and rewarding of fine young gentleman like the “Legal Eagle” who play the fool for money.
When America was America populated with Americans, the professionals observed etiquette and advertisement for professionals – doctors, lawyers et al. – did not exist. Those who transgressed would have been irrevocably embarrassed as were those lay people who went on the public dole.
It is a “Brave New World” to be sure.
forgotwhoiam – when all this first started I was a court runner and process server for Jacoby & Meyer, the firm that started it all. After winning the suit they opened branch offices and eventually sold out. They did low cost divorce, child support, etc. They were very nice guys and I hope they came to a good end. 🙂
BarkinDog @2:23 pm
Never hire a lawyer who advertises? It’s 2015. Might as well say that one should never hire any lawyer. Even the allegedly exclusive, silk stocking firms, in those beautifully appointed offices in skyscrapers, advertise in various forms of the media. Don’t kid yourself. Hell, the latest issue of the Missouri Bar Bulletin has pages devoted to the print ads of various law firms, where stodgy men, and even stodgier women, pose in their respective conservative suits, flanked by wood paneled offices in an attempt to hawk their services. Advertising has become commonplace in this field.
I just figured out why lawyers deserve less freedom than all the other actors in the marketplace. Well, because we are still dominated by white men. Ergo, we must be discriminating. Ergo, our freedom of speech must be curtailed.
Oh wait– that’s not the rule that applies to advertising, that’s 8.4! Sorry I got that mixed up folks.
Too many lawyers spoil the broth. Too many lawyers is created entirely by too many law schools with too many students. The cause of that is too many law professors making too many salaries. The law professors are in control of how many students are admitted to each year’s class. Tell your kid not to go to law school. It is too crowded. The number of lawyers out there is five times what is needed. Never hire a lawyer who advertises.
Paul are you saying that the bar associations and law schools are in cahoots, to flood the market with workers, thus depress wages, thus make the individual lawyer more powerless against vested interests more so than ever? Shocked, shocked I say! This imputing of improper motive of our glorious leaders may be a violation of the RPC! Thoughtcrime!
John smith – when I first came to Arizona the Bar limited the number who could pass the Bar, regardless of the scores. They finally got sued and lost so now everyone who passes get in. Arizona participates in a multi-state Bar exam. Evidently if you pass it, it is good in several states.
On the one hand I completely agree with the professor.
On the other hand, observe that so much of our system is premised on a “capitalist” model that presumes free speech communication in commercial matters. Lawyers, the foot soldiers of the capitalist regime, are nonetheless denied the same crass methods that used car salesmen have long used. If a lawyer wants to lower himself not only to being a capitalist mercenary, but also acting like a petty bourgeois tin-pot-peddler, I say let him make a fool of himself.
And while this fits with what many of my liberterian friends would believe, no, I don’t subscribe to the phony “Morality of capitalism” Randian nonsense anymore, for those of you out there still drinking the libertarian Kool-Aid and hearing the reflexive capitalist apologies in your heads.
If I were a drunk college student, I would hire him. He is going for a niche market and I think he made his points well, although the print was too fast to read.
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