23 November 2009

Carefully Handling the 10-Foot Pole

“Ever Try Arguing With A Woman?”

No, no, no, don’t blame me, I'm not the one who said it. If noticing and appreciating gender differences is sexist, hey, I’m guilty and I’m glad. But subjectively at least, I’ve not strayed into any disrespectful country. Also, if I were to evaluate opposing counsethat way, I'd be getting my ass kicked regularly. No, the tag line of this post is the tag line on a billboard displayed all over this region advertising a lawyer who happens to be female. The lawyer involved is attractive according to conventional standards and is featured in a really large photo. I submit that subjective observation is relevant because the physical appearance is part of the overall impression that the billboard is supposed to present, part of the shtick.

There are a couple of problems with a hire-me-I’m-a-woman ad. (I’m not including bad grammar. There is only so much room on a billboard and so much time for someone driving by to absorb the message.) First, if it is directed at people who want the lawyer to “argue like a woman,” you are pitching to stupid people. They want a role-player who will dance a set-piece Kabuki and pull off some magic by being following a script that may not be the best course for the case. Second, women lawyers who “argue like a woman” rather than argue like a lawyer faile to use their own individual abilities to best represent their clients and give them good advice. Individual strengths determine successful practice and, indeed, what kinds of cases lawyers should and shouldn't do. One good friend is a woman lawyer who never argues; never raises her voice; she just diligently presses and when she finds the key weakness, administers the coup. Lawyers who follow some antique formula are easy pickin’s for their opponents. One can only hope that this particular lawyer is smarter at law than at advertising. (Indeed, her reputation is that of a workmanlike lawyer.) (No apology, that is a term in our language.)

Hmmm - I wonder if I should advertise something like, “You Need a Man’s Man to Handle Your Case.” Well, two problems there, too. My friends who know me would laugh and everyone else would sue me for false advertising. (Over coffee, we’ve come up with MUCH more inappropriate macho mottos and suggestions which propriety and a desire to sleep without firearms in my hands has prevented me from spreading forth here.)

Other lawyer ads are more subtle but nevertheless misleading, and lawyers are smart enough to mislead within the rules. Oh, some blast through the line: “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight!” Others? There is the aw-shucks approach that fronts for a legal-assistant heavy paper mill that rarely tries cases. There are firms that suggest specialties without using the word. One really good firm in the past year led us to believe that they were the only firm in this part of the state set up to do complicated medical malpractice cases. Now, these guys are really good trial lawyers. However, there are maybe 3 to 6 firms around here that could do those cases, depending on how picky you are. On the other hand, lots and lots of people advertise for med mal with the (mistaken) belief that they can get a good case, make a modest strike without working too hard, and escape. That isn’t good law practice, nor even ethical. A couple of former military individual lawyers have touted those experiences in advertising. Those experiences show perseverence, but there have been some stunning exceptions to positive correlations of good lawyering.

Oh, defense firms and business firms advertise and market too, just in different ways. They are politically connected better, as a rule, and realize that silly things like rallies and email campaigns get politicos presence but not presents. They work the phones better and do personal interaction better. Oh, they also dress a hell of a lot better, or at least more conventionally. For instance, I cannot think of a single thing I own that is monogrammed. (I like it that way, too.)

Direct Social Isolation, Geographic and Intentional

I take inappropriate, feckless pride in detachment from popular culture. Some familiar icons (Britney, Miley, Brad, who knows who else) richly deserve MY disinterest. Whether they merit your interest is solely your business. And yet, in this part of Mother West Virginia, there is geographic disconnection, too. What prompts that is Doreen Lewis’s blog (link yonder) where she talks about hearing an in-person talk by Dr. Wayne Dyer. There are those here geographically who have traveled in the traditional sense far more than I (also speculatively, but I’m working on that) and of course many friends from more populous places have greater exposure to physical cultural events.

And so, what is the value of the “real world” encounters at a presentation, lecture or seminar over the transmitted or stored electronic equivalent, or the same information in written form. And, for those rare cynics, no, this is not an apologia for some pure Castallian model of life - it is a genuine question. Any takers?

Random Observations:

If the exclamation point did not exist, would it be possible to advertise used cars for sale?

The fact of global warming is scientifically established to overwhelming probability. The only way to get to certainty about the range of adverse predicted effects is in retrospect, at which time it most probably would be too late to remediate them. It's a lot easier to add heat to the system than it is to remove it.

8% of the people on Earth have an automobile.

Brethren in Scouting - Boy Scouts of America: A Centennial History, by Chuck Wills - available at Amazon - I like it. I'm reading Scouting for Boys by B-P, and the resemblance of his work with our experience is striking.

Pippa passes.


1 comment:

doreenmary said...

I used to sell real estate... geeze, it's an industry whereby people seem to be selling sex instead of homes. I remember a giant real estate agent billboard with a young woman on it, seductively posed... "Don't just wish, call Trish," it said. I think it should have said below it, "and do me" Realtors use photos from 10 years and 50 pounds ago... Glamour Shots. My God, it's such an insult to people who are professional. Are they looking for a lay?

Lately, I've seen billboards advertising "gentle dentistry" and a pic of a lady all gussied up (the dentist, herself). No man could pull it off to advertise such, could he? Not without outrageous flack in response.

I have a male friend who has attempted dating in the online environment and the women in the pictures never match the reality. He's met a dozen of them, always hopeful, and it has become humorous to hear the outcome when he gets back from his first date. That whole dating online thing is a scary thing.

What a world we live in.... so shallow. Even professionals.... docs, lawyers, still try to use some marketing ploy ("sex sells") to position themselves.

It's a great bloggable issue, Roger! You raise important issue with interesting perspective. Enjoyed reading this.