“Combined years of experience” in legal advertising

This advertising tactic is a bit of a joke in legal circles. Yet it pops up surprisingly frequently. I am sure you have seen lawyers ads touting the “combined experience” of the lawyers in the firm:

18 years of combined legal experience

40 years of combined legal experience

90 [!] years of combined legal experience

Even a quick check of Google reveals a number of law firms using this language.

Well, I’m here to tell you – don’t buy it!

The main problem with this is that there is no such thing as “combined legal experience.” As much you may feel that lawyers are pod people, we really cannot connect our brains together!

Another problem is that if a lawyer advertises “18 years of combined legal experience” you may rightfully expect that you are getting 18 years of experience on your problem. But, are you really?

Consider what “18 years of combined years of experience” may actually mean:

  • 18 lawyers with 1 year of experience.
  • 1 lawyer with 17 years of experience and 1 junior associate with 1 year of experience. Psst: you are assigned to the junior associate.
  • 1 lawyer with 18 years of experience (in a completely different practice area) who just started practicing law in your area this year.

Don’t be taken in by law firms advertising “combined years of experience.” Many times, it is just a way of making a law firm sound more experienced that it really is.

  • Lisa Douglas

    I concur. This type of advertising is misleading and the public doesn't truly understand what it is that they may be receiving. I think you broke it down in layman's language to the point that it would make a person think before they chose a firm based on the “combined years of experience” jargon. Loved the photograph as well.

  • Margaret

    So True

  • http://www.harrellandharrell.com/ Scott Grimm

    What about the firms that have the actual seasoned experience to back up those claims? The fraudulent claims quickly are exposed.

  • http://www.ColoradoSocialSecurityLaw.com/ TomaszStasiuk

    Experience is valuable. It is even additive. But, I do not believe it is a simple math problem.

    There are things you can combine, such as printing speeds: if you have two 40ppm printers, you can say you have 80ppm combined printing power. Boo-yah, kill those trees!

    However, I dispute the notion that two attorneys with 7 years of experience give a client 14 years of experience.

    Should a law firm with over a hundred attorney's claim “over a thousand years of combined legal experience?” If so, I expect them to cite legal precedent back to the year 1000. 😉

    Large firms don't do this because the absurdity of this type of puffing becomes clear.

    BTW, how's the weather in Jax?

    • instantaphex

      Bad analogy. If I need 80 copies of a document and two printers that are 40ppm, I do in fact have 80ppm of combined printing power if I’m printing at the same time. I do agree about combined experience though. A google search of combined experience is BS led me here.

      PS Hello from 4 years in the future. You can call me Dr Emmett Brown.

  • http://www.personalinjurydefenders.com/ LAAtty

    Not everything we heard or read is true. In finding the best lawyer, referral, I think, is the most effective. Ask a friend or a loved one who already had the same experience as you did and ask how he/she handled it legally.

    Moreover, performance is the best form of advertisement. If the lawyer is good, it will spread by word of mouth.

    • Dick Decent

      Wrong, wrong, wrong. You must be a first-year. Referrals from friends/relatives are completely meaningless, no 2 cases have the same facts or issues. MOREOVER (always used by pretentious douchebags outside of legal writing) such an action does nothing but put the friend/family relationship in jeopardy when it all goes to crap years later.
      There are no shortcuts – state bars and Martindales list specialists, their specific training/postJD credentials with links to their firms. Case results claimed are easy to verify, it’s just that people are stupid and lazy and don’t want to do the work required to screen potential representatives. Word of mouth is a joke unless it involves a Charlie Sheen hooker.

      • http://planet10tech.com/ TomaszStasiuk

        I think there is some value in referrals from friends and family since you it can provide an indication of the culture of the firm. Are calls returned? Is there a lot of facetime? Do you work with the attorney, or just the secretary?

        One thing about the various rating agencies / attorney guides is that they often also sell marketing packages to lawyers. So, to the public they present a guide to finding the right lawyer. And to lawyers, they try to sell marketing. Conflicted much?

        I was going through law school in the mid 90s during the growth of the web and never felt the need to try to court agencies like M-H. They still do not list me even after more than 10 years in practice.

  • coco1212

    You're right Tomasz, I've seen many law firms advertising themselves as having “40 combined years of experience” this is a dirty trick. Still there are decent law companies that advertise their services in an honest manner, like the ones you find in the easy saver program. You can read the name of their top consultants and their greatest achievements. Transparency is a key issue here.

  • tom

    HELLO i am new here