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The American Lawyers Public Image Association is a fledgling, nonprofit organization that’s gotten very little exposure — at least until late last week. That’s when, during the television sitcom “Will & Grace,” NBC aired a promo about a new show, “First Years,” which debuts tonight. The message read in part that it had come to the network’s attention that ALPIA thinks the new show, which focuses on the lives of five first-year associates in San Francisco, is “offensive to lawyers.” Then, using ALPIA’s distaste for the show to its advantage, the network said, “That’s a reason to watch.” Nader Anise, a Boca Raton, Fla., lawyer who founded ALPIA, said his jaw dropped Thursday night when he saw the promo. “It was almost surreal,” he said. The publicity is a double-edged sword for ALPIA, which started in South Florida two years ago and is seeking members around the nation. The network is using the organization’s dissatisfaction with its show to further promote its interests. “It’s like a challenge,” said Anise. “This typifies the media’s reaction to lawyers.” Still, he admits, any publicity is good publicity. “At the very least there is dialogue and recognition and that’s the beginning of any type of crusade,” said Anise, who noted that neither he nor anyone from his organization has been contacted by the network. Curt King, executive director of prime time series publicity for NBC, says the whole purpose of the promo is to dispel the notions people have about lawyers. “NBC is eager to have Americans tune in on Monday and judge for itself,” King said Friday. ALPIA, meanwhile, has taken particular exception to a description of first-year associates as “bottom feeders” and “appropriately screwed up.” Says Anise: “There is way too much lawyer-bashing.” If it’s any consolation, the show’s creator, Jill Gordon, says on the network’s Web site that no one on the show is neurotic. “If any of these characters do become neurotic, or whiny, we will kill them off,” she says.

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