Media advertising by personal injury lawyers in the United States is often described as “over the top,” “ambulance chasing” and “unprofessional,” among other less flattering descriptors. Advertising by lawyers is generally thought to diminish the public’s already tenuous respect for the legal profession.
Meanwhile, media advertising by personal injury lawyers in Canada, and more particularly by personal injury lawyers in southern Ontario, has increased significantly over the past five years. Although the Law Society of Ontario changed its rules in 1987 to allow lawyers in Ontario to advertise in any medium, few personal injury lawyers advertised routinely until the 2000s.
As more and more lawyers advertise their services in the mainstream media, are we destined to head down the same bumpy road as our U.S. colleagues?
Historically, Canadian lawyers have considered the advertising of legal services to be unseemly or unprofessional. This perspective appears to emanate from the concept that law is a profession, not a trade, and that a professional’s reputation is degraded by ‘hawking his wares.’
– Personal injury lawyer Wendy Moore Mandel, Thomson Rogers