Daytime TV viewers long have been accustomed to lawyer commercials full of bad acting and promises to “get what you deserve.” But a recent advertisement running nationwide on the cable channel Bloomberg Television takes a slightly different tack. Big white letters flash over a bold red background as a stentorian voice asks: “Are you an inventor? Has your patent been infringed?” Boston-area plaintiffs attorney James Sokolove wants to know, and he’s the first attorney to use TV commercials to find out.
Known throughout the Northeast for its ubiquitous personal injury commercials, The Law Offices of James Sokolove was a pioneer of law firm advertising at its inception, when the Supreme Court approved the practice in a 1977 decision, Bates v. State Bar of Arizona. The firm doesn’t try any cases itself, but acts as a lead generator, finding potential cases and referring them to affiliates for a fee. Sokolove’s operation spends nearly $6 million a year on TV and print ads, as well as Web sites and Internet keywords like “mesothelioma” and “Vioxx.” It has even used product placement within TV shows — Tony Soprano once watched a Sokolove commercial while flipping channels in an episode of “The Sopranos.”