Lawyer Advertising: Some Words of Advice

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Lawyer Advertising: Some Words of Advice

texas law hawk advertising

Occasionally, I run across interesting and amusing lawyer advertisements.  One of my favourites is the Pot Brothers tips of the day: “Shut the F*#k up”.  Setting aside the comedy, it’s actually really good advice for anybody arrested or detained by the police (or other State agents) anywhere in Canada.  Though the Pot Brothers may not appear Harvey Spectre polished, or fit the paradigm of what we expect of a lawyer, I appreciate their creative attempt to drum-up business.

On the subject of lawyer advertising, I enjoyed “Brian Wilson, Texas Law Hawk”.  It's not my style, but I nevertheless found his ad humorous.

ALERT: The legal advice in Brian Wilson Texas Law Hawk DOES NOT APPLY in Alberta. This legal advice may be correct in Texas, but it does not apply in Canada DO NOT REFUSE TO BLOW based on this video.

lawyer advertising

Since I am one of many Calgary criminal lawyers who has a website clearly designed to attract your business, I feel it is my responsibility to offer some insight into lawyer advertising. I do so to provide you with some tools to navigate the Internet for the purpose of making your decision about which lawyer to hire.

Firstly, I have said there are some high quality Calgary criminal lawyers.  Almost every defence lawyer in Calgary practices throughout the Province and some even practice outside the province. Not every lawyer has a website.  Accordingly, there are some good lawyers who you will not find by conducting a Google Search. 

More importantly, however, just because a lawyer has a website or just because the lawyer's website is on the first page (such as, sometimes this one), does not mean that the lawyer is the best criminal defence lawyer or the best defence lawyer for your case. The lawyer might claim to be experienced, or proven or "the best" in an Ad, but the claim is not NECESSARILY true. 

There are indeed a few exceptional Calgary criminal lawyers who either don’t have a website or spend so little time advertising that their website has been relegated to the Search Engine Obituaries. In the world of search engines (such as  Google or Bing), the obituaries are essentially any website travelling backwards from page 3. Page 2 websites are barely clinging to life.

Now, I must be very careful with my words. Suffice it to say, that a lawyer’s website is on the first page or even at the top of the first page, doesn’t mean that the lawyer is "the best" criminal defence lawyer.  More often than not, search engine placement only means that the lawyer is either investing a lot of money to guarantee placement, investing a lot of time to improve placement or both. By way of example, does not rely on paid advertising but it definitely attracts the attention of search engine robots because of its content. In other words, ranks because of the time and effort put into it.

At the end of the day, however, it’s not the website that matters. If you have been charged with a criminal offence in Calgary or anywhere in Alberta, your only real interest is hiring a criminal defence lawyer who can properly defend your case. As I have said throughout this website:

any lawyer can advertise on the Internet, not every lawyer can properly defend a criminal charge. 

words of advice

The Internet is a useful tool for making a wise decision; it is, however, not the only tool.

Here is some advice:

What have you been charged with?

A general practice Calgary criminal lawyer may not be the right choice to defend certain types of criminal offences.  For instance, if you have been charged with impaired driving or one of its related offences (“at 80” or refusing to blow), your defence lawyer must be suited to evaluate and litigate numerous issues; such as Charter breaches, common law defences, statutory requirements and technical matters.  Drug defence work also requires a highly experienced criminal lawyer who routinely defends drug cases. In other words, defending a shoplifting charge is not the same as defending a DUI or trafficking allegation.

Accordingly, hire a lawyer who has the requisite real experience to defend your particular case.

Use the Internet with caution.

Today information is ubiquitous, but not all information is accurate.  The Internet is a playground for both information and misinformation. Accordingly, you must be skeptical about everything you consume.  It’s also important to keep in mind that even true reporting of information can be highly misleading. 

Therefore, consume all information (websites, blogs and even the news media) with extreme caution. 

Though referrals are important and powerful, be cautious.

A referral is good because a third-party has put his or her stamp of approval on the referral. Remember, however, there are many reasons for referrals that may have little or nothing to do with competence. Even a referral from a person who successfully defended a case should be approached with caution. There are many reasons why cases are won and lost.  Keep in mind, just because a lawyer loses a case doesn’t mean that he or she did not brilliantly run the case. Just because a lawyer wins doesn’t mean he or she is brilliant. Not surprisingly, people are happy when they get what they want, so although referrals from people who got what they want are incredibly useful, you should still do your due diligence.

Lawyer to lawyer referrals are useful but remember, there may be a degree of nepotism or bias underpinning the referral.

Reviews are a useful tool, but they can be misleading. Firstly, some lawyers are prolific at augmenting reviews. There are many ways to do this that have nothing to do with the quality of the lawyer. Also remember, most happy clients don't complain.  Negative reviews are also useful but should be read with extreme caution. The Internet is an easy place to complain. I do it often in my Blogs. Complaints, however, may arise for a variety of reasons that have little or nothing to do with the business owners performance or competence.

Take advantage of a free consultation.

Ask good questions and listen carefully during your initial consultation with any prospective lawyer. Remember, many of us are really good talkers and that not all good talkers are exceptional litigators.  That said, if the lawyer communicates some knowledge about the subject matter, you should feel more comfortable. If the lawyer glosses over relevant issues, that is a sign to feel less comfortable. If the lawyer seems to understand your predicament, feel more comfortable.  If he or she has trouble comprehending your predicament, feel less comfortable.  If the lawyer only communicates about money, be careful.

Finally, remember, from a legal perspective, your predicament is not necessarily your feelings about the case; rather, it is about the facts, the law and how the law applies to the facts.  Criminal lawyers are not social workers or psychologists.   So evaluate the lawyer in terms of his or her legal expertise, not his or her ability to tell you what you want to hear. 

My point: stay focused on why you are hiring a criminal defence lawyer. You need a lawyer, not a friend.


These are a just a few pointers.  If you are looking to hire a Calgary criminal lawyer, use your good sense. Don’t just settle, for if you do, the choice could be disastrous. 

Since I advertise on the Internet, I will return to this topic often. I do so because I want you to understand that I run a business and as such, am looking to earn your business. In so doing, however, I want you to hire me for the right reasons. 

I am a Calgary DUI lawyer who defended his first client in the Provincial Court of Alberta in 1999. I have successfully defended hundreds of impaired driving cases.   

I am a Calgary drug lawyer who started his private practice in 2005 training under one of Calgary’s very best drug defence lawyers. I have successfully litigated complex drug prosecutions. 

I have successfully defended everything from shoplifting, to common assault, to home invasion to murder. I am a Calgary domestic violence lawyer with nearly two decades of criminal law experience. 

Give me a call.  I will give you an honest opinion about your case. I promise that I will be direct and will never simply tell you what you want to hear. I will act as your lawyer, not your friend. 

I wish you the best of luck in your search.


David G. Chow

Alberta Criminal Lawyer