There was no reason lawyers couldn’t issue press releases before the internet. The problem then was that no one cared, and so their press releases never saw the light of day. Let’s face it, there wasn’t much a lawyer had to say that was worthy of print space.
But now that the internet has provided infinite room, lawyers can use the marketing tool with abandon and hope that someone notices. Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer Gary Ostrow did, and abandoned any hope of coming out of it unscathed.
SOURCE: Gary Ostrow Criminal Defense Attorney
Gary Ostrow Lawyer Announces He Is Taking on All Celebrity Criminal Cases in Florida
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL–(Marketwire – Dec 21, 2012) – Criminal Defense Attorney Gary Ostrow has recently announced his intention to take on all celebrity criminal cases in the state of Florida, effective immediately. Recognizing that star-studded actors and athletes often face an unfair bias in the courtroom, Ostrow a Fort Lauderdale, Florida lawyer seeks to acquit any and all celebrities wrongfully charged of serious crimes.
He wanted to be noticed, and it worked. South Florida Lawyers noticed. Mark Bennett noticed. Some of his local brethren noticed. I did too. What was noticed was that Gary Ostrow marked himself as a social media goofball. While the question of who came up with this idiotic idea, and who actually executed it, remains unanswered, there is no question about who will pay for it: Gary Ostrow.
And as long as Ostrow decided to scream “look at me” at the top of his lungs, people are reminiscing about Ostrow’s other, older, faux pas, like his aborted run as a Republican for Broward County Public Defender, cut short after his arrest for cocaine possession as he tried to enter an airport. That he had a drug problem isn’t the sort of thing that most of us would raise against a fellow, but when you put out a press release like this, everything becomes fair game.
Bennett has already deciphered the secret hidden message of this marketing bonanza:
Celebrities generally choose the lawyers their agents or managers recommend, and agents and managers, while they often choose unwisely, aren’t likely to choose a lawyer based on a self-serving press release.
Ostrow knows, though, that there is a special class of potential clients who want to believe their cases are high-profile, because they want them to be high-profile. These potential clients want to be celebrities, because they believe that celebrities get the best of everything.
We call these potential clients “narcissists.”
And if these narcissists have the money to pay for representation, then they get it just like celebrities. It’s been my experience, however, based on the thousands of telephone calls I’ve received via Avvo, that there is a huge number of shoplifters, genital exposers, public pee-ers and drunk drivers who fancy themselves celebrities but lack the wherewithal to pay for a lawyer. They are likely able to pay, but don’t feel any particular inclination to do so. Their gift is to allow a lawyer to bask in their reflected, if somewhat dim, celebrity.
Unlike phony claims of greatness, such as America’s Leading Trial Lawyer and Ranked #1 of 94,377 Law Firms in New York, Ostrow’s cry for attention isn’t exactly false. No doubt he would be quite happy to take on “all celebrity criminal cases in the state of Florida, effective immediately.” He probably would have been happy to do so even before the press release, despite the “effective immediately” language. But ridiculous puffery isn’t the only way a lawyer can bring ridicule upon himself. Indeed, there is probably no limit to the ways to make oneself a joke on the internet.
Ironically, Gary Ostrow promoted his “notoriety” (his word) in his press release, and notoriety is what he got. Perhaps he bought into the marketeer’s mantra, “you are what Google says you are,” and sought to manufacture an online persona as the defense lawyer to the stars. Perhaps he just wanted to snag a few nobodies who suffered from narcissistic delusions. Perhaps his practice is dying and, in a moment of desperation, handed over his reputation and ethics to a “social media professional” who came up with the brain storm of issuing this press release.
It’s not going to work. Indeed, it’s already backfired, as Ostrow’s foray into celebrity representation availability has brought some attention to him that will not only make people think he’s not really a celebrity lawyer, but a total buffoon. And the attention is likely to show up higher in a Google search of his name than his press release. I suspect this wasn’t what he was aiming for when he closed his eyes and pulled the trigger.
The message here isn’t that Gary Ostrow is a sucky criminal defense lawyer. Whether or not that’s so is beyond my pay grade, and I leave it to others with actual knowledge of his skills to make that assessment. The message is that the internet offers infinite opportunity to make desperate lawyers into total asses, and provide other lawyers with the means to call them out on it.
Gary Ostrow isn’t the first lawyer to pretend to be something he’s not on the internet, and isn’t the first lawyer to have his cover blown. It’s not that the internet doesn’t provide ample opportunity to screw up. It most assuredly does. It’s that most lawyers aren’t so fundamentally narcissistic and, well, stupid, as to walk down the boulevard in hotpants screaming look at me, look at me, and think nobody will say anything.
There are a few of us who will say something, and it won’t be flattering. Don’t sell your dignity and integrity so cheaply. Chances are far greater that it will backfire than make you something you’re not. If you’ve got an important announcement to make, there is an internet on which to do it. Don’t be surprised, however, if it doesn’t go exactly as planned.