Editor’s note: Below this letter from Charles Ruffin of the State Bar of Georgia is a response from Jamie Casino, the Savannah lawyer whose TV commercial is at issue.
I and other Georgia lawyers have received calls and emails about the local advertisement that a Savannah-area lawyer ran during the Super Bowl.
Although I cannot speak for all lawyers, I firmly believe most members of the State Bar of Georgia do not condone or approve of advertising that uses sensationalism and “over-the-top” graphics in an attempt to get business. Nonetheless, the right to free speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that lawyer advertising is protected under the First Amendment. Therefore, the Bar’s ability to control the content of ads is very limited.
Notwithstanding, I assure you that Georgia lawyers engage in a level of professionalism beyond the bare minimum. Most of us follow The Lawyers’ Creed, an aspirational statement endorsed by the Supreme Court of Georgia, which states in part: “As a lawyer, I will aspire … (b) To consider the effect of my conduct on the image of our systems of justice including the social effect of advertising methods. As a professional, I should ensure that any advertisement of my services: (1) Is consistent with the dignity of the justice system and a learned profession.”
The best lawyer advertising is designed to educate the public about the law or to help people in need find a lawyer. I encourage any member of the public to fully investigate the qualifications of a lawyer and not select a lawyer solely based upon the content of an advertisement.
State Bar of Georgia
Jamie Casino’s response
Editor’s note: At the request of Mr. Casino, who drafted his response late Thursday afternoon, the words “in the most important part of the message” have been added to the second paragraph below.
I respect the State Bar President’s opinion on all points. I respect everyone’s opinion. However, I have had significantly more lawyers and non-lawyers commend me than ridicule me for taking a much needed, bold stand in Savannah. I addressed in a powerful manner an epidemic in Savannah—police department corruption.
A few additional points must be made as to the content of the spot. My TV spot was not begging for people to call me. It had no phone number in the most important part of the message, so people could easily “…call me NOW.” It had no website listed. It had no call to action, like “…I can get you $1,000,000 dollars!” It had no catchy slogans. It had no elements of your typical, personal injury commercial that you see airing on TV in Georgia and almost all other states, which most non-TV lawyers passionately despise.
Therefore, I want to make it clear that my intent was not to drum up car wrecks, slip and falls, dog bites; but more importantly, I am fairly certain its message ruffled some very dirty feathers in the leadership of our scandal-riddled police department. Continually condemning me will surely have those who are corrupt in our police department cheering my accusers on.