Lawyers in the Yellow Pages
Daniel M. Filler
Drexel University College of Law
Law and Literature, Vol. 14, Spring 2002
The Yellow Pages constitute the single most popular site for attorney advertising, yet they have received little scholarly scrutiny. Unlike advertising in other mass media venues, some of which is intended to alert consumers to a possible need for legal services, Yellow Pages ads are designed to distinguish a given advertiser as superior to all others. An attorney advertising in the phone book, along side hundreds of other attorneys, must convince potential clients that she is the most desirable attorney in town. As a consequence, she will try to highlight her special expertise, superior skill, or other traits that might sway a client. One way to make this case, artfully navigating both ethical and social prohibitions, is the strategic use of images. Focusing on Yellow Pages volumes in four cities, the article identifies recurring images within lawyer ads. It then subjects selected advertisements to a close textual reading, showing how attorneys convey a myriad of messages through illustrations and photos. For example, a well-selected self-portrait can convey information about an attorney's race, class, and lawyering style. Similarly, illustrations of existing or potential clients can help convey information about a lawyer's sympathies and empathies, views on race and sex, and prior track record. As long as lawyers are permitted to include images in their advertising, the article concludes, attorneys will be able to convey information important to potential clients, even if formal rules otherwise proscribe such claims.
Keywords: Lawyer advertisingAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 13, 2002
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