“Screwing banks since 1992″: Indiana Lawyer Suspended Over Unprofessional Advertisements

I have previously written about how some attorneys continue to ignore bar standards encouraging firms to show basic professionalism and decorum in advertising from using sex dolls to raving like madmen. Now, an Indiana bankruptcy lawyer Brent Welke of Indianapolis has been suspended for 30 days in a rare sanction for improper advertising. Welke ran ads that said he has been “screwing banks since 1992.”

While we all agree that there is a free speech right to advertise and the vast majority of lawyers show great restraint in deference to the standards of our profession, there remain low lying fruit like Welke. Welke will remove ads proclaiming that he loves “screwing banks” as well as such statements as “Keep your property”, “Stop wage garnishments”, “Stop home foreclosure” and “Stop vehicle repossession.”

Welke’s current website and Facebook show a vicious dog and his Facebook proclaims “We love to take a bite out of a banker!”

Unfortunately, such sanctions remain relatively rare as a minority of lawyers engage in a race to the bottom with undignified and often misleading advertisements. Such attorneys appear to have little grounding in the either the ethics or values of this profession. His website says “Brent worked his way through law school developing the qualities you look for in an attorney, receiving his Law Degree from Indiana University, Bloomington.” That is certainly a shout out that Indiana University could probably do without.

Here is the order: Welke Decision

40 thoughts on ““Screwing banks since 1992″: Indiana Lawyer Suspended Over Unprofessional Advertisements”

  1. Banks screw their customers every day and nobody cares. I say give this guy an AWARD.

  2. Indiana is the Hoosier state and proud of it. Disbar this guy. Advertising has ruined the so called “profession”.

    1. BarkinDog writes, “Indiana is the Hoosier state and proud of it. Disbar this guy. Advertising has ruined the so called ‘profession.’”

      What you wrote!

      When I first got into this “so-called profession,” I wondered at the restraint on advertising and how unfair it was. Billboards advertisements were unethical. How could that be?!

      And I’ve come to learn that the most successful lawyers nowadays are rarely the best; they’re the ones who can pay for the most advertising and for the most part with unrestrained content which harms the profession.

  3. Paul writes, “As long as it is truth in advertising, I am for it. The ABA has a steel rod up its behind and no sense of humor.”

    Weren’t we just jabbering about the difference between legal ethics and the non-ethics of the business arena?

    If this idiot had been working for Goldman Sachs, they’d have promoted him for the benefit of free advertising of the controversy at the low cost of a 30-day suspension.

    That’s the difference between having a state-licensing board and peer oversight providing the means to a profession and a buck providing it.

    1. stevegroen – if a frog had wings it wouldn’t bump its butt every time it jumped. I think the legal profession should be overseen by the Corporation Commission in every state. They can set fees, etc. rather than the willy-nilly way it is done now. Also, all judges would be dropped from the ABA the minute they became judges. There is an inherent bias.

  4. The guy is part of a necessary group of lawyers who must take on the establishment, institutions that because of their size and legal advantages regularly screw the individual. He may be at the lower end of the pack but he is necessary. If only for the illusion of being able to stand up to big banks, big institutions, etc. they are necessary. People tend to need illusions in which to believe.

  5. Bam Bam – Excellent post. My thoughts about Tin’s post were nearly the same. How snobbish of the “elite” to snub the poor working class dudes trying to work their ass through law school. Don’t them into your study group, Ignore them in Class, Just perhaps they will drop out and the “law” profession can remain pure.

    Sorry JT, you have it wrong on this one. What is factually wrong about his advert? Crass? Perhaps, Illegal or misleading? Where?

  6. As long as it is truth in advertising, I am for it. The ABA has a steel rod up its behind and no sense of humor.

  7. I fail to see how he did anything wrong.

    Is he just a boor, or is he a fraud?
    Does he in fact screw banks, keep their property, stop wage garnishments, stop home foreclosures, and stop vehicle repossessions?

    Is he advertising falsely, or advertising an effective service?
    I don’t get it.

  8. Oh yes, the “BAR” (British Accreditation Registry) is just the ticket to fight corruption. But somehow the word “Lawyer” is synonymous with undignified, unethical, etc. So where was the real problem? A Fascist organization pretending to be above board for the public’s sake. I’m sure they’re thinking “Thank god the public is so stupid”.

  9. What’s wrong JT, don’t like this lawyer’s exercise of free speech? Oh wait, makes your profession look a bit scuzzy? Without him how would anyone tell you all apart?

  10. Although “screw the banks” is over the top I don’t see what’s wrong with a bankruptcy lawyer advertising that they can “stop repossessions” or “stop foreclosures.” My firm routinely files Chapter 13 cases and that’s exactly what we do every day. Of course, I guess as a debtors attorney I’m considered “a bottom feeder” too by Professor Turley.

  11. One values freedom of speech …. or one does not ….. I value freedom …….. I oppose those who claim they support freedom and then start adding caveats to their support. Bah Humbug

  12. His adverts are no one’s business to meddle with. ( Unless they are fraudulent ). The legal bar is a cartel that should not exist. Let the buyer beware. Don’t think anyone else will watch your back. It is a fantasy to believe government or a bar committee will protect you.

  13. Good comments, Tin. In college and law school, I fit that profile myself, finally dropping out because a dying parent required caretaking in addition to the myriad other jobs I had. A “no-hassle pass” and one kind professor might have kept me in–or not. In my current profession I am a sole practitioner and invisible. Any “fraternity” has seemed dazzlingly close at moments but has proven unattainable. My first reaction to this chap’s advertising was favorable—as I know the demographic most screwed over by said banks. It’s unprofessional, yet when trust is at a minimum, and anger at a maximum, one grasps at straws….Many well-spoken, connected professionals don’t actually care about their clients–it may be preferable not to–and into the void steps Mr. Screw The Banks. It is probably misleading that he’ll get a good result with that approach. But people want someone to watch their backs.

  14. How interesting, Tin, that as a former member of your bar’s legal ethics committee, highly irrelevant factors, such as one’s socio-economic backround and popularity in law school, were somehow brought to your attention when judging whether or not a lawyer crossed the ethical lines. Most lawyers who ran afoul of the ethics rules came from poor or working class white socio-economic backgrounds? Seriously? How disgusting. What you really mean to say is that the privileged, wealthy and popular dirtbags were never brought to task–not because they didn’t run afoul of the rules of ethics, but because they were from the right side of the tracks, came from a distinguished lineage of wealth and privilege and people seemed to know them on the country club golf course. I truly hope that you really weren’t on the bar’s ethics committee; my suspicion, however, is that you actually were. Why, pray tell, would you or any of your buddies on the committee care about or investigate the socio-economic backround or law school history of someone brought before you on ethics charges? What possible relevance could those two factors have upon the issue before you? This is precisely why lawyers have the despicable reputation for being dishonest, duplicitous, corrupt and unjust. The fact that you were aware, or made aware, of the financial backgrounds of these attorneys and the requirements demanding that they work their respective ways through law school, is nauseating and reveals exactly why people have no faith that lawyers can ever police their own.

  15. Perhaps Indiana University should have provided sufficient financial support so that he didn’t have to work his way through. The hours that he spent working were hours that other students used to study, debate legal concepts, and engage in legal clubs and activities. Anyone who is sufficiently intelligent and organized can make it through law school by the seat of his pants, working 30-40 hours per week. He will learn enough to pass his classes, but won’t excell and will not have decent employment prospects. He most likely become a sole practitioner and will not have any sense of connection to the legal “fraternity.” Years ago I was on the legal ethics committee of my state bar and we found that most lawyers who ran afoul of the ethics rules came from poor or working class white socio-economic backgrounds and struggled through school working surprisingly long hours, sometimes juggling several part-time jobs along with their legal course load. They tended to be invisible to their professors and classmates. Most could not even remember them.

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