Scummy Lawyer Marketing 101
We at The Eisen Law Firm have worked hard to build our reputation as top-notch medical negligence attorneys. We are disgusted when other attorneys hijack our name and reputation to try to steal potential clients. But apparently, that is what some attorneys have to do. It is maddening. It is also scummy. And it is unethical.
Type “The Eisen Law Firm” into Google. Or type “Brian Eisen Attorney” into Google. Often, an advertisement for another attorney will come up first on Google. Not every time, but often. In some cases, this is because the advertising attorney specifically has purchased ad words on Google using our names! In other words, they pay to have their ad come up when someone specifically is looking for us. People looking for us because of our reputation as experienced and successful medical negligence attorneys may then be diverted elsewhere. Sometimes, the attorney to whom they are diverted isn’t even a malpractice attorney at all. Instead, that attorney is merely a marketer, who goes on to send any good cases to another firm in exchange for a “piece of the action.” That’s right, some of the attorneys who spend big bucks on advertising for medical negligence cases don’t handle medical negligence cases.
Using, or abusing, adwords
So why would an attorney buy adwords (now known as Google Ads) using our name? Because we are damn good at what we do, and people look for us when they seek out top-notch medical malpractice representation. Why is this wrong? Because it capitalizes on the years and years of hard work it took for us to get to our level as victim advocates and litigators. Because it may trick potential clients into a relationship with a different attorney, one who is less experienced, less knowledgeable, or – even worse – one who is merely a marketer with a law degree, not a real attorney who handles real malpractice cases. And, because it’s just plain scummy.
This conduct is 100% unethical. The Ohio Board of Professional Conduct has investigated this practice. It has specifically found that it is unethical for a lawyer or law firm to purchase the name of another lawyer or law firm for use in competitive “keyword” online advertising ( Ohio Bd. Of Prof. Cond. Op. 2021-04). According to the Board, the purchase of a competitor’s name as a keyword for advertising is an “act that is designed to deceive an Internet user” and thus violates the ethical prohibition against deceit, dishonesty, and misrepresentation. “The advertising lawyer is attempting to deceive the consumer into selecting the advertising lawyer or law firm’s website, as opposed to the intended lawyer or law firm.”
The Board opinion goes even further, pointing out that this conduct – using another lawyer’s name to increase traffic to the advertising lawyer’s website – “displays a lack of professional integrity. It calls into question the lawyer’s trustworthiness, sense of fairness to others, and respect for the rights of others, including those of fellow practitioners.” In other words, it’s scummy.
Be aware of your Google results
Why on earth would a victim of medical negligence contact an attorney who engages in this conduct? Why would a victim of medical negligence call the office of a lawyer whose name pops up as a paid ad when the victim types in the name of a different attorney or firm? Other than by accident, we cannot think of a good reason. But it must happen, and it must happen frequently, because attorneys whose reputations aren’t good enough continue to try to essentially steal our reputation by using this unethical, parasitic practice.
At The Eisen Law Firm, we have not and never will engage in this practice. If our name comes up when you search specifically for someone else, it will not be the result of us paying Google (or some other search engine) to display our ad when another attorney’s name is searched. We hope other firms will join us in that pledge. We also hope that the Board of Professional Conduct will step up and enforce the ethical rules on this practice. By not enforcing these rules, people who have been victimized once already by their medical providers may be victimized again by an unscrupulous attorney.
If we can help you with a medical negligence claim, give us a call at 216-687-0900 or connect with us online. You can also Google us, just make sure that it is The Eisen Law Firm you select in your search results.