False Advertising: The Norm For The Future?

Amongst the many things that come across my email are “press releases” announcing wondrous things of little consequence.  One such release was about a new website called New York Criminal Defense Lawyer.  It caught my eye.

New York Criminal Defense Lawyer is an industry leader in legal law information for the state of New York and their website expansion marks a recent growth pattern for this popular website.

An industry leader is quite a claim for a website whose existence is maybe 12 minutes old.  But hyperbole is like breathing to flacks, so it’s hard to let silly things like that put you off.  But if this site offers “legal law” information specifically directed toward New York criminal defense, it’s something I ought to know about.  So I checked it out.

Not surprisingly, it was a sham. As it turned out, it was the website for Rachel Kugel, a lawyer whose name I had never before heard.  I should have stopped there, but I didn’t.  I couldn’t help but wonder who she was, given how audacious her website and claims were.  Aside from Alexis Neely, who bills herself as “Americas Favorite Lawyer” despite her positioning as the Mother Teresa of legal marketing, this was as bold, if nonsensical, a marketing effort as I had seen.

Near as I can tell, this former Cardozo Law student was admitted in 2005 in New York and New Jersey, where she does drunk driving cases.  Since then, her claim to fame is appearances on Fox News and Court TV, where a nice looking young woman is always appreciated. 

Rachel took this passion and continued it during law school at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City. There she was selected to work on cases at the Innocence Project, devoted to exonerating the wrongly convicted through DNA evidence. She also worked on cases through the Criminal Defense Clinic and garnered an internship with the Legal Aid Society Criminal Defense Division in Manhattan.

Rachel then worked for a well known medical malpractice law firm also in Manhattan. Through her experience with criminal defense work and then her work on cases involving medical and scientific evidence she began to combine her skills and work on criminal matters that involve these issues.

Rachel continues to hone and sharpen her skills attending continuing education classes on DUI defense and medical and scientific issues all over the country. She is also very active in the community fighting for fair treatment of the accused and prisoner’s rights.

Rachel is in private practice in Newark, New Jersey, is admitted to the State Bar of New Jersey and is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association.

So she had some exposure during law school, and after a stint with a med mal firm, she’s trying to break into criminal defense.  Good for her.  There are some funny aspects to her website, particularly the “fees” page, which says

However, most cases are relatively simple for an experienced defense attorney like myself. I know exactly what to expect in court, and I can quickly size up your case, and quote you a fee during a free phone consultation.

And she takes credit cards, which makes a quickie plea that much faster.

But then came the curious part.  It wasn’t just a matter of enjoying some TV talking and a desire to become a lawyer that drove her to these marketing extremes. it turns out that she is a Marketing Expert!

Hi! It’s Rachel Kugel, Esq., the Million Dollar Practice Designer! I am so glad you found this site. Everything you need to take your law practice to the next level is here. Design the law practice, and life, of your dreams…..read on…..


Now hyperbole is one thing, but “the Million Dollar Practice Designer?”  Come on.  But there was more.

“Give Me 60 Minutes and I will Show you How I Started Closing 90% of Prospects, and Doubling My Fees All Without Going In To The Office”

Dear Friend:

Hi, I’m Rachel Kugel, lawyer and entrepreneur. I am finally ready to reveal the secret of how I went from struggling solo lawyer to the owner of s thriving law practice that makes me all the money I need and then some while still leaving me the time and freedom to actually enjoy my life…..a feat I once thought was impossible in the practice of law.
How does this nice, young lawyer go from budding DUI lawyer to marketing guru.  What is it that drives this shameless pretense?  Obviously money, but is there no end to the absolute garbage that has permeated both the internet and the minds of young lawyers?  For those of you who take umbrage at my castigating the legal marketers, pretending the “everybody does it so I have to do it too,” how does this one square with your self-serving rationalizations?

For all I know, I may have trained this young lady at the Cardozo ITAP program, where I teach trial practice.  For all I know, she may be very nice, very dedicated and very hardworking.  For all I know, her interest in criminal defense may be sincere.  But none of that matters given how she’s sought to promote herself in this disgraceful way.

This seems to be more than just a growing trend amongst young lawyers, but a pervasive belief that they are entitled to craft a false persona, spread it far and wide, for the purpose of self-promotion.  This is the road to success.  This is the future of law as far as they are concerned.  And if it doesn’t stop, lawyers will drown in a pool of putrid deception.

The only message that young lawyers hear is that marketing, marketing, marketing, is what makes a lawyer. What message are you sending?

Correction: I have been informed that I have incorrectly used the phrase “America’s Favorite Lawyer” with regard to Alexis Neely. In fact, it is “America’s Favorite Lawyer™, ” as she has registered the trademark.  My bad.

14 thoughts on “False Advertising: The Norm For The Future?

  1. marty d.

    Too bad Billy May passed away. The possibilites would be endless. Call now and we’ll double the sentence.

  2. SHG

    I really liked Billy May.  Now there was a man who knew what he was and never pretended to be anything different.

  3. Carolyn Elefant

    Please, stop the madness! I think that this has to be part of some kind of pyramid scheme because the copy that you quote above sounds so similar to so many other marketers. Apparently, what happens is that a lawyer spends a few thousandsome kind of marketing program, achieves some success and then works with the folks who started the program to start another, most likely paying some kind of fee to these other marketing people (or buying more of their materials).
    I have nothing against marketing coaches and experts. I follow their blogs and newsletters, read their books and learn a lot from many of them. But for me, the best part of going solo is being original and using my brain to figure out how to overcome challenges like big law firms who want to poach my clients or doing amazing work on a tight budget. If someone gave me a guidebook to follow and told me if I do x, y, z then I’ll be rich and relaxed, I might be happier more of the time, but I’d miss out on what I consider the best part of working for myself: the journey.

  4. Josh King

    It’s something called “attraction marketing” – a multi-level-marketing scheme that’s been rampant in other parts of the web and is now finding its way to law.

  5. SHG

    It’s breaking my heart that this is what young (and solo) lawyers are doing to try to promote themselves.  This is why I keep arguing to guys like Kevin and Mark Britton that the absence of a contrary voice with all the marketing seminars, often masquerading as CLEs, will destroy any vestige of professionalism and integrity left in the law.  It’s just a nightmare.

  6. Josh King

    A thinly-veiled pyramid scheme. One “guru” sells others the concept of this marketing path to riches. The trick is that the path isn’t really growing one’s practice; it’s re-selling the marketing concept to other attorneys.

  7. Mike
    The text is recognizable because it’s adopted from a true marketing guru, Matt Furey. Furey changed the way people did sleazy marketing. Everything becomes a letter…

    Dear Friend,

    I have the MOST AMAZING SECRET to tell you. While in a SECRET FORREST meditating with MONKS, I learned the SECRET to happiness in life.

    You are always a friend, and the marketer is always giving (for a price) a secret. Lots of CAPS and red font is used, too.

    What’s funny is that, even in the personal trainer industry, Furey-style marketing is seen as sleazy and unsavory.

    It’s pretty amazing that ethical norms have changed in the law…such that lawyers adopt a style of marketing that even most personal trainers think is slimy.

    Anyhow, here’s an example of Furey. Yes, you will laugh your ass off. Then cry, realizing that lawyers will soon be doing this.

  8. Patti Larson

    Ask for tax returns before you do business with any of these gals or believe in either of their outrageous income claim.

    Will either of these individuals be willing to disclose their 2003-2006 tax returns to prove up their claims of millions in a short time?

    It’s an old and common scam to tell people you made X million in three years to get others excited about whatever she is pitching.

    The IRS audited and found the lies on one of these individuals. You guess who? DUUUUH!

    Outrageous claim of income on the web = lie = IRS audit [YOU CAN COUNT ON THIS FORMULA EVERY TIME]

    Does anyone wonder why there are very few CA lawyers who fell for one of these schemes? There are over 200,000 lawyers in CA and very few who bought into the personal family garbage.

    Where the heck is the FTC when you need them?

  9. SHG

    Excellent advice for anyone who claims to be an expert on the internet.  Check them out thoroughly, as many are not even remotely what they claim to be, before you spend a dime.

  10. Henry

    Heard it today. Sales pitch. 90 day money back warranty. Linked to PayPal. About 997$ if one payment, but 1116$ if 3 payments. The latter w a turn off. Then wrote to her. Will see if answe comes. The sales pitch is long winded and shallow just like a product pitch on late night tv. After reading this, the whole think reeks.

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