The legal profession isn’t known for its sense of humor. On the contrary, most attorneys take themselves way too seriously. As a result, we see some pretty ridiculous attorney advertising that ends up being unintentionally funny. And while we’re happy to poke gentle fun at these websites and ads, our commentary isn’t always well received. Because another thing that lawyers aren’t known for is the ability to accept criticism.
Knoxville attorney Stephen A. Burroughs, a personal injury and auto accident lawyer and my new favorite person, is an exception to these rules. Anyone from the Knoxville area is likely familiar with Burroughs, having seen his serious, bearded face on billboards all over town.
The ads were so ubiquitous, and Burroughs’s gaze so smoldering and intense, that someone created a Facebook page devoted to Stephen A. Burroughs Memes, transforming Burroughs into Knoxville’s answer to The Most Interesting Man in the World. As the Facebook page gained popularity, the funny memes started pouring in.
Even better than the jokes, though, was Burroughs’s unexpectedly awesome response….
Local news caught up with Burroughs a couple of weeks ago, when he gave an incredibly good-natured interview about the Facebook page. Burroughs has read every one of the memes submitted and has been reveling in the unexpected attention: “I’ve enjoyed laughing at myself along with everyone else.” He even goes so far as to praise the page’s creator, Ryan Clark, as a “genius.”
As the meme page became more popular, Burroughs upped the ante, offering to throw a big party if the page got 10,000 “likes” before the end of August. That goal was reached this past weekend, ahead of schedule.
Now, true to his word, Burroughs is throwing Swagfest 2011 on September 9 to celebrate his new-found fame. Originally planned to be held in Knoxville’s Sunsphere (aka Burroughs’s Palace), the number of RSVPs quickly surpassed the Sunsphere’s 300-person capacity, and Burroughs has now also rented out the Knoxville Convention Center to accommodate all of his guests.
He has hired three bands and a local radio station DJ to provide entertainment. During the party he will be giving away over 4,000 t-shirts and $15,000 in free vacations. But, like any good businessman, Burroughs has not passed up the opportunity to use Swagfest as a platform for advertising his law practice.
As party preparations have been under way, the Facebook site has only gained popularity. The page currently has over 12,000 “likes” and the number continues to grow every day. Burroughs has set a new goal of gathering 20,000 “likes” by September 15.
Burroughs issued an official announcement on Monday, providing more details about Swagfest and promising that “Knoxville can expect a party like they’ve never seen a private party before in the history of this whole town.” Over 3,000 people have already said they are attending.
If you’re not anywhere near Knoxville and not able to attend Swagfest, you can still enjoy the Facebook page and add to the growing collection of memes. The page also provides useful insight into the legend himself:
Stephen A. Burroughs is the only thing in Knoxville more prominent than the Sunsphere and more ubiquitous than drunk sorority girls.
Personal Interests: Beard trimming, staring contests, leaping over mountains, fighting rattlesnakes, and holding doors open for ladies.
Both Ryan Clark and Stephen A. Burroughs have helped to perpetuate the memes in interviews. It seems that Burroughs is having more fun with this than anyone. And really, who can blame him for taking full advantage of all the free publicity?
If you are lucky enough to be in the Knoxville area and want to attend Swagfest (as well you should), you can RSVP here or here. Just make sure you act quickly, as the deadline for getting on the list is September 4 at midnight. Also, be sure to groom your beards and dust off your flashiest duds, because the dress code, naturally, is “Swag – Dress to Impress!”
I’m truly sad that I won’t be able to attend Swagfest, but just knowing about Steven A. Burroughs and his fantastic beard has brightened my day. Keep your swag up, Mr. Burroughs. We wish you the best of luck with all your swagtastic future endeavors.
Stephen A. Burroughs Memes [Facebook]