Advertising, Jews, Lawyer Advertising, Legal Ethics

Adventures in Lawyer Advertising: It’s So Hard to Find a Jewish Lawyer These Days

Have you ever really needed a Jewish attorney but just didn’t know where to find one? Well, have no fear, the Jewish American Bar Association is here. There’s an ad that’s been making its way around the blogosphere that can be seen at a bus stop in south Florida:

There’s just one little problem. The Jewish American Bar Association might not be exactly what you think it is….

See, when people think of “bar associations,” people usually think of non-profit organizations run by lawyers. That’s not really what the “Jewish American Bar Association” is all about. From the blog South Florida Estate Planning Law (which has been all over this story):

First of all, there’s no such thing as the “Jewish American Bar Association.”

Well, there is, but it was founded last year, on June 3, 2009, in Delaware. Go to the Delaware Secretary of State’s website and do a search for “Jewish American Bar Association” or for File #4694550. They also registered as a foreign corporation doing business in Florida as the Jewish American Bar Association, Inc. Their President is one “Lisa Spitzer” and according to the Florida Bar Website, there is no one under that name licensed to practice law in Florida.

So what is this association actually trying accomplish? The south Florida blog explains:

So what the hell is this? I’m not sure, but it looks like a corporation founded by one Lisa Spitzer to exploit the stereotypical belief that a “Jewish” lawyer is somehow better. Trust me, I know a lot of great and crappy lawyers who are both Jewish and non-Jewish. They (meaning the “Jewish American Bar Association, Inc.”) make money by charging “Jewish” lawyers a membership fee to be listed by the site, plus each lawyer has to pay them “a processing charge for each referral,” which considering the fact that they are not members of the Florida Bar, violates Bar rules.

Let me put it this way. Any lawyer who actually signs up for this site, whether they are Jewish or not, is probably too stupid for you to trust with your important legal matters.

The post goes on to argue that the ad is anti-Semitic, because it suggests that Jewish people are… let’s say genetically predisposed to being good lawyers.

Even if you don’t think the ad is anti-Semitic, you should take a look at the Jewish American Bar Association website. I particularly liked the section entitled “Jewish Jokes.” Cool, right? I’ve met some pretty funny Jewish people!

Yeah, sadly the section is not about “Jewish people making jokes”; it’s more “jokes about Jewish people.” I stopped reading after a couple of poorly crafted ethnic jokes, feeling much like the robot from that old Robot Repair show.

The coverage of the story caught the attention of ATL friend Brian Cuban, who writes The Cuban Revolution. Cuban sent a letter to Lisa Spitzer asking her about the organization and the criticism that her ad is anti-Semitic. She responded to Cuban. You can read the entire email exchange here, but here’s the money quote from Spitzer’s response:

A Bar association does not need to be run by a lawyer. Lawyer referral services do not split fees. We are quite legitimate and offer many services and benefits. People want Jewish Lawyers, female lawyers, gay lesbian lawyers and there are Bar Association for members in each of these categories… We are not going anyplace. We plan on growing as a nationwide organization.

Shalom!

Look, it’s one thing to market same-race legal services to those who want it. But Spitzer’s organization really seems like it is trying to benefit from Jewish stereotypes more than it is trying to cater to a portion of the Jewish community.

Shockingly Stupid Anti-Semitic Attorney Ad Right Across the Street from the Courthouse [South Florida Estate Planning Law]
Follow Up on the “Prefer a Jewish Lawyer!” Bench Ad [South Florida Estate Planning Law]
Yet Another Followup to the Deliberately Misleading “Jewish American Bar Association” [South Florida Estate Planning Law]

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