Friday, May 11, 2007

Billboard boosts lawyers' business -- but at what cost?

You may have to squint a little to read this. Sorry.

This billboard recently was put up in Chicago in the Rush Street area, the so-called "Viagra Triangle," on behalf of a couple of Chicago lawyers. I saw one of the lawyers interviewed on TV; she's an attractive blonde. And she said the sign was generating business.

(The sign was shortly thereafter taken down because, after the story broke, the local alderman said the billboard company did not have the proper permit for display.)

Defenders of the sign have argued (correctly, in my opinion) that a message on a billboard, even one promoted by a scantily clad model, is not going to break up a happy marriage. But -- really -- I can't help but think that people heap enough scorn on us lawyers without stuff like this.

Maybe I'm just oversensitive.

And maybe divorce lawyers need to advertise. A story on AOL today says that the American divorce rate is at its lowest since 1970. It's a long article with many sidebars. A number of reasons are given for the decline in the divorce rate, but two stood out for me. One -- a positive -- people are marrying a little later in life now. So today's newlyweds are, just possibly, a tad more mature.

But the other? Cohabitation rates have soared. More and more young people are living together without benefit of clergy -- and without the real benefits of divorce laws.

It's all rainbows and lollipops when you start "shacking up" -- but what happens if things turn sour? If both parties have contributed to the mortgage... but only one is in title? If children become involved?

Divorce may not be a good thing, but it is sometimes necessary. And divorce laws may not be perfect, but they're better than nothing. And nothing is what you may get when your unmarried partner flees. Or locks you out. It could take years to recover from such a blow.

Which gives me an idea for my own billboard: Life's short. Get married.

17 comments:

Dave said...

I've never been comfortable with lawyers advertising. But I've gotten used to it. My hope is that they, and the rest of us do well by our clients.

Wouldn't mind meeting the model on the left of the board though.

Mother Jones RN said...

I like the idea for your billboard. Can I fly to Chicago to see the photo shoot if you hire the same two models? Huba-huba!

MJ

Lahdeedah said...

Well,

I also read an article that people who were married, rather than going through an expensive divorce and having to change the lifestyle they like, or who, while married have realized the 'oomph' and 'spark' is gone, but not the affection and friendship, are staying married because it's a better state than divorced.

However, I too think that shacking up without the benefit of marriage does put you at risk... but isn't that covered by common law marriage?

SQT said...

I've read that people who live together before marriage have and 80% chance of divorce later on. At least the rest of us have 30% better odds.

landgirl said...

Geez, who does the accident lawyering as people run into each other's cars gawking at the sign?
I agree that I have never really agreed with lawyers advertising at all and this is no pun intended over the top.
Regardless of any moral onjections to cohabiting, each partner is quite vulnerable. Common law marriage, I believe--keep me honest, here Cur, is one of those legal myths.
All in all, I put it this way: it is hard enough to make a relationship work. When you stand up in front of family and friends and some sort of authority and say you are goign to make it work, then that puts the oddds in favour. Cohabiting, by contrast, is a non-commitmment.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I don't think the authorities would allow a 'life's short: get married' nowadays, as they say it would disciminate against others!

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

marriage is hard work, but in the end, oh so worth it. thanks curmy, i'll go give sarge a hug i think...

smiles, bee

Patti said...

I believe in good old-fashioned matrimony too.
I was lucky enough to meet the right guy.

Shelby said...

I saw this on the news a few days ago and the very first thing I thought of was, "I bet Mr. Curmudgeon makes a post about this."

I love it when I'm right.

And you are right - marriage is a very good thing.

may said...

i'll support your billboard. after all, it may not be the same fee, but you get paid for marriage stuff too right?

The Curmudgeon said...

A number of you mentioned "common law marriage." Laws vary from state to state but, in Illinois, "Common law marriages contracted in this State after June 30, 1905 are invalid." (750 ILCS 5/214.)

But, May, lawyers haven't yet figured out how to make money on marriages... although, I suppose, if more people marry (instead of cohabit) there will be more work for the divorce lawyers down the road....

Linda said...

Here's a twist for you - marriage lawyers rather than divorce lawyers. Maybe if it was as hard to get married as it is to get divorced, people would think about it more carefully beforehand and take it as a more serious commitment. Just a thought!

emmapeelDallas said...

I like the billboard. I'm divorced, after 20+ years of being married, but the ex and I are good friends, and in fact took a vacation together last year, a road trip to see old friends. We both date, though. What I don't understand are people (and I know several) who decide to stay married but lead separate lives, complete with lovers. That's strange and rather sad, to me.

J

Ellee said...

I suppose the cynic would say that more marriages keep the divorce lawyers busy.

And I remember reading a story about billboards in Athens which were provocative and were going to be banned because they caused the male drivers to have so many road accidents!

webduck said...

I am so old...that I remember when it was "against the law' to show paper money on TV for fear the counterfitters would figure out a way to take a picture and make new money...lol.

And, lawyers could not advertise their profession on TV. Now we see ads all the time...times change, eh?

Ralph said...

I'm not against the marketing of any legal item or service, but why is it that the lawyers involved with the worst of life's situations (divorce, accidents) feel the need to advertise the most...

Anonymous said...

My problem here is personal witness - if the man is a looser than no law is going to make him ante up for his half of anything, period end of comment! If a woman has no real interest in the relationship - laws and decrees are not going to heal the marriage either.

I got married young (21, and naive) but with good thinking have made a success of my love and life. I do not regret getting married young or bearing children young. I have never personally believed in divorce - so I was determined to make a success of things...