He followed the rules to the letter. After all, it was the internet, whose only purpose is to create the fictional impression of a lawyer and firm to which clients would race for their legal needs. The other set of rules, the ones that apply to the behavior of lawyers and their relationship to deception, don’t apply. All the marketers say so, and they would know.
From the Legal Profession Blog :
The attorney had, among other things, advertised his practice as himself “& Associates” when in fact he had a solo practice. He also had a video linked to his web page in which a non-attorney was presented as a member of the firm. The web page listed non-existent firm practice groups, and falsely indicated that he had three office locations and decades of experience.
The attorney was left unnamed in the post, but the ABA Journal prominently identified the lawyer: Jason Matthew Head of Virginia Beach. His name wasn’t hard to find, as it appeared at the top of the order suspending him from practice.
Of course, it wasn’t all about his deception online, as he blew his representation of a client which gave rise to the bar complaint. But then, one need not worry about legal competence when, with a few bold keystrokes, one can appear to be the most competent lawyer ever on the internet.
Jason Head was admitted to practice in 2001. It appears that he opened his office as a solo in 2002. Perhaps he soon came to the realization that the stories of great wealth and success as solo practitioner, propagated by its advocates who deliberately shield their eyes from reality, were exaggerated. Perhaps he found that clients didn’t flock to him and the phone sat silently. He had to do something.
Almost every twist in Jason Head’s marketing scheme comes from the marketer’s playbook. Be more than you are, from size to skill to experience. Say whatever will make people give you money. Forget that we’re lawyers, as the old rules were made by mean old men who don’t understand the internet.
On the internet, we can be anything we want to be. Reality doesn’t matter any more. We are what Google says we are, and Google will say we’re whatever we want to be.
Granted, the lords of the Virginia bar didn’t come to notice Jason Head because he was deceptive on his website, but rather because he blew a house closing and bounced some escrow checks. Only after these hard violations did they happen to realize that he fabricated a world that didn’t exist, that he lied to the potential consumers of his legal services to make him appear more than he was.
So what if he was shameless in his self-promotion? That’s what’s needed in today’s marketing world, where some kid lawyer claims to have decades of experience, a flock of associates and practice areas that rival the largest white shoe firm. Shame is a passé concept. Rather than be ashamed, we’re so very proud of amassing a marketing machine that makes us special online.
But all is not lost for Jason and the marketers. The Virginia Beach Circuit Court suspended Head for 30 days. That’s what the locals call an extended vacation.
Maybe shame is passé for those who are entrusted with preventing lawyers from deceiving people on the internet as well. A thirty day suspension sends a tepid message to those lawyers who would flawg themselves across the internet, given the unlikelihood that anyone will ever notice their marketing lies. Maybe the age of marketers is not only upon us, but here to stay with the blessing of the court.