They’re usually competitors, but that hasn’t stopped a trio of Ontario personal injury firms from linking up in a bid to counter what they say is the aggressive marketing and advertising that has come to play a big role in consumers’ decisions on which lawyers they retain.
“I’m not sure anyone ever imagined the sort of aggressive advertising we’ve been seeing in the last few years in the personal injury bar,” says Roger Oatley, whose firm Oatley Vigmond Personal Injury Lawyers LLP has joined up with McLeish Orlando LLP and Thomson Rogers to form the Personal Injury Alliance.
Starting today, the alliance has begun a radio campaign that “stresses the importance of expertise and track record in achieving financial security and the best rehabilitation possible for victims.” It’ll also launch TV ads on July 9, notes Oatley.
But, he says, the flavour of the ads will be different from other firms.
“You won’t be hearing any jingles from us,” he says, adding there’ll be no “slick messages” about quick settlements.
“It was mutual respect that brought us together,” says Oatley, who says the firms have been concerned that some consumers may not know what to look for in a personal injury lawyer.
“For lawyers to do this kind of work, they have to do it all the time,” he says, adding the area has become more complex over the years and now requires greater expertise.
On his list of things a lawyer should have are trial experience; a network of experts; and relationships with community rehabilitation service providers.
“If they don’t, the insurance companies won’t take them seriously and judges won’t take them seriously,” says Oatley.
Among the other concerns is the trend towards emphasizing quick settlements in personal injury law.
“There’s a saying in our business that the easiest strategy for a million-dollar settlement is to settle a case that’s worth $2 million and do it badly,” says Oatley. “You can’t know you’re blowing it if you don’t have the experience to know what your expectations ought to be.”
Oatley stresses that the campaign isn’t about insisting that only the three members firms have the qualifications consumers should look for. Still, he notes the TV ads will carry the firms’ logos.