Decades ago, when I was just a baby NY personal injury lawyer, most of my personal injury clients came from lawyer referrals. Those other lawyers knew that my firm concentrated in the field of personal injury law. Those lawyers had discovered from past referrals to us that we got top results even with difficult cases. Those lawyers in turn would tell other lawyers about us, and our referral base grew and grew in Syracuse, the Central New York area, and across the entire Upstate New York region.
Even back in those days, however, there were always some “cold calls” – people who found us not by referral from other lawyers, but directly, the old-fashioned way, by something called “the yellow pages”. (If you are younger than 30, ask mom and dad). But by and large it was our trusting network of referring lawyers who fed our personal injury pipeline.
Then came lawyer advertising. This followed on the heals of the Supreme Court case Bates v. State Bar of Arizona finding that bar association rules banning or strictly limiting lawyer advertising violated the First Amendment’s guaranty of free speech. The proverbial floodgates opened, and the flood of tacky “INJURED?” billboards and TV ads rushed in.