Why Finding a Lawyer in the Yellow Pages is a Mistake

yelllow pages advertising, law firm marketingI found the following on the lawyerahead blog.  I've long  held the view that the Yellow Pages are a waste of money for lawyers -- it just attracts bottom-feeders, illiterates and shoppers.  This piece points out that the yellow pages are also bad for the client.


Open the Yellow Pages and you’ll find page after page after page of legal advertisements. They are generally categorized by ’specialty,’ but all of them seem to be specialists in multiple areas of the law. The sheer number of ads is astonishing.

“Well, here’s a nice advertisement. Big letters, toll-free phone number, a nice picture of a classy office and a distinguished gentleman.” Guess what? You’ve just figured out which law firm is good at advertising. You have, in effect, selected the best ad writer, not the best lawyer for your circumstances. And pages of ads, all offering the same ‘free consultation’ doesn’t help either.

You shouldn’t choose a lawyer like you would choose a plumber. Rather, finding a lawyer to take on your case is more like finding a doctor to treat your illness. You are going to develop a long-term relationship with your attorney – a relationship built on trust and communication. The Yellow Pages will not help you here. In fact, they can hurt you.

  • The advertisements will not tell you how much a lawyer charges.
  • They will not tell you who pays the law firm if you lose your case. Did you know that you might be responsible for paying the attorney fees if your case doesn’t result in a collection?
  • What about expenses related to investigating and pursuing your case? Who pays for those?

All of these questions and more can only be answered in person. You will need more than a phone call, you will need to interview a few lawyers to find one that you trust to handle your matter. Someone you can be confident in and a firm you can rely on.

Put the Yellow Pages away. Take some time to investigate both your type of case and local attorneys on the Internet. [Google is the only directly to bother with.]

Remember, what you want is someone who can guide you through the legal minefield, someone with expertise and someone you trust who you can communicate well with. Leave the Yellow Pages for when you need lawn service or snow removal.

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David Stejkowski - March 10, 2009 8:25 AM

Larry, I could not agree more. I just received my new phone book here in exurbia and was astonished by how many display ads (multi-pagers, even) for lawyers were in the book.

Perhaps because of my specialized practice, I can't even imagine doing this. But down here, I guess, the lawyers (almost all of whom are GPs) see this as the best or the only way to get to many consumers. I certainly respect them all, but I think it misses the reality: many people just don't look in phone books anymore. The astonishing cost of a phone book ad is probably better spent on a website.

A - December 3, 2011 11:48 PM

I don't necessarily disagree with your analysis of YP ads. You are selecting essentially the best ads, but the same rings true for ANY method of research. You think that a google search page is any different? It's not. You'll not find the best lawyers there either, you're finding the best website developers. They are very good at optimizing a website, not necessarily at practicing law. You need to contact, call, visit multiple attorney's either way. Use the YP if that's easier because its all the same. Having a strong recommendation from someone I trusted is the only way I would search for a lawyer... or plumber, or lawn service, or doctor...

Harvard Barnett - November 14, 2013 7:04 PM

As an Internet Marketing for legal clients I appreciate this post. The YP had their heyday and it has been over for quite some time now. I think clients are better off meeting some attorneys at non-profit functions or having meaningful conversations with friends and family to get references. I have met many attorneys over the years and their attitudes, competence, desire and experience vary wildly.

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