Local Super Bowl Ad Features “Flaming Sledgehammer of Justice”

JamieCasinoAdThe tip comes to me from a friend: Have you seen this?!?  A Savannah, Georgia personal injury attorney bought up two minutes of local airtime during the Super Bowl last night to explain why he’s a personal injury attorney.

And he does so with a flaming sledgehammer. And trading on the shooting death of his brother. And smashing a tombstone. And dissing his past criminal defense clients, describing himself as a “notorious criminal defense attorney” who was “employed” by “cold-hearted villains.”

Oy.

While I am no fan of personal injury ads, having only seen one that was actually done well, I do admire folks who will try something different. But trying something different doesn’t mean pretending you are a super hero and smashing a gravestone, with ridiculous production, as attorney Jamie Casino does in this video, now on YouTube. Go watch it, then come back.

Welcome back.

The most important issue: If he will diss his former criminal defense clients today, and claim to have been in their employ, what will he say about his current clients tomorrow? How do you trust someone who will rip into his prior clients? This isn’t just a question of being fickle in his choice of practice areas — anyone ought to be able to move around for a multitude of reasons — but calling them “cold-hearted villains?”

The fact that he trades on his brother’s death and uses atrocious production values to garner attention (which obviously worked since I’m writing about it and others also will) may go to the good/bad taste of the viewer. I think they are bad taste.

Also, I’m not keen on people that wear sun glasses at night, unless they happen to be the Blues Brothers. And using Avvo Answers to ask people to call him. But I guess those are nits to pick.

But there isn’t really any excuse for trashing your clients, to whom you owe a fiduciary duty and duty to preserve secrets even after representation is done.

If he finds more lucrative retention a few years down the road in another line of work, what will he be saying about today’s personal injury clients?

Addendum: It appears from this article that Jamie Casino’s brother Michael was killed in 2012 and that he then switched over from criminal defense to personal injury law. And that means he likely has little actual trial experience in personal injury. From the article:

Casino goes on to depict events surrounding the real-life slaying of his brother over Labor Day weekend in 2012. Casino’s younger brother, Michael Biancosino, 30 at the time, and Emily Pickels, 21, were shot and killed in Biancosino’s vehicle in the early hours of Sept. 1.

So this guy, who has most of his legal experience in a different field, criminal defense, just spent a boatload of money — two minutes during the Super Bowl — to advertise for clients in his relatively new field. This is from his website:

JamieCasinoWebsite

There is a difference between marketing and lawyering.

Addendum #2 – See Max Kennerly’s take (Jamie Casino and The Super Bowl Ad: Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should):

…I’m dismayed by his negative portrayal of his former field, criminal-defense. In his prior work as a criminal-defense lawyer, did he break ethical rules? Did he conspire with clients to commit crimes? If not, then what’s the problem? What is he ashamed of? The ethical practice of criminal defense?…

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14 Responses Leave a comment

  • Brian Wilson 2014.2.3 at 16:31 | Quote

    Wow–there’s a lot going on with this ad. First, the comments are overwhelmingly positive. I suppose this is because lawyer ads are uniformly so hideous, and this one shattered that shopworn model.

    But after that, really really bothersome that he trashed his former clients. I wonder if he told them they were cold hearted villians when he was accepting their $$??? Me thinks not.

    After all the hype, any marketing is about who/what clientele you wish to attract. I’m sure this will generate lots of calls to Mr. Casino. My guess is lots of chaff and very little wheat. After that, it’s primarily about substance and
    competence, which is a much longer continuum than a 2 min commercial with fancy production values.

    The only thing I’ll give him credit for is scoping the landscape of horrid ads and doing something different…

  • Ken 2014.2.3 at 16:44 | Quote

    So this isn’t a movie promo?

  • Mark W. Bennett 2014.2.3 at 17:57 | Quote

    “Greedy whiners.”

  • Old Geezer 2014.2.3 at 20:42 | Quote

    The ad has created something of a stir on Reddit — the social site for youngish and youngish wannabees who see themselves as being “with it”, internet wise. Reddit deems itself “the front page of the internet.”

    http://www.reddit.com/r/videos/comments/1wwbmv/georgia_lawyers_local_super_bowl_ad_is_batshit/

    Among the commenters are several of the lawyering persuasion with interesting points of view, some in admiration and some aghast. It certainly has gotten notice!

  • Eric Turkewitz 2014.2.3 at 21:19 | Quote

    The ad has clearly gone viral…if you google his name you will see tons of stories.

    He got noticed. But. I don’t think many appreciate what he really did here:

    1. He crapped on his own clients; and
    2. He used his brother’s death for commercial advantage, even recreating the scene where he was told about it.

    I can’t even imagine doing either of theses things, the first from a professional standpoint and the second from an emotional one. Trading on the death of a brother? It makes me ill.

    Then, lay on top of that that, if I read the stories correctly, he has only recently devoted his practice to personal injury law. So that means inexperience. Who wants to hire an inexperienced big mouth?

  • Mike Pospis 2014.2.4 at 11:01 | Quote

    I don’t get the logic. This would make some (any?) sense if, for example, (1) he became a prosecutor to punish “villains” like those who killed his brother, or (2) his brother was negligently killed and the responsible parties somehow managed to avoid tort liability.

  • Eric Turkewitz 2014.2.4 at 11:16 | Quote

    I don’t get the logic.

    Neither do I. But he succeeded in getting tons of publicity for himself, which is the purpose of advertising.

    Maybe he figures that, as long as people spell his name right, it doesn’t matter.

  • The Irreverent Lawyer 2014.2.5 at 12:21 | Quote

    The commercial was over the top but no reason to get upset about it. Methinks some of the criticism borders on envy over its widespread publicity and unanticipated buzz value. Casino generated a lot more of that than what he paid for — pretty good ROI. And while the cheesy B-movie content can be deemed artistically questionable, I would hardly call the production value “atrocious.” For good or ill, the guy spent some serious money to get a different look and feel. If you’ve ever seen his past commercials as I have, then you would have been familiar with his style and ‘taste’ in advertising. His Super Bowl ad follows suit in its exaggerated entertainment presentation. And as for a criminal lawyer now doing PI? Give me a break. With all due respect to your practice area, Eric, like ham and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, a lot of criminal defense types add PI work to easily complement their practices. A criminal lawyer getting into PI? Earth-shattering. He’s not splitting atoms you know. Moreover, most lawyers in and out of personal injury know that the overwhelming preponderance of injury cases are settled not tried. Casino hasn’t decided to practice water law, do securities work or dispense advice on ERISA. Many of us wouldn’t advertise like he does but that hardly demeans lawyers that he does. Tasteful accident lawyer advertising is oxymoronic.

  • Eric Turkewitz 2014.2.5 at 13:49 | Quote

    A criminal lawyer getting into PI? Earth-shattering. He’s not splitting atoms you know.

    I disagree. It would be like me trying a criminal case and familiarizing myself with a massive body of constitutional law. Sure you can switch over, as I noted, but that doesn’t mean you are instantly good at doing the other stuff.

    Moreover, most lawyers in and out of personal injury know that the overwhelming preponderance of injury cases are settled not tried.

    I always assume a case will go to verdict. It is the only way to prepare. And if your head says settlement instead of verdict, then you are likely to take 40 cents on the dollar because you weren’t ready when the judge sends you out to pick that jury.

    Tasteful accident lawyer advertising is oxymoronic.

    Try this one, this one or this one.

  • Kevin Perez 2014.2.5 at 15:48 | Quote

    Was this attorney advertising or a movie preview for Ghost Rider #3 or The Terminator #5? This ad tells a tale of redemption of a criminal defense attorney who lived the good life and all of its trappings defending the criminally accused or the “villains.” Then one day he decides that due to his outrage of his brother’s murder and the shame and self-loathing of explaining to his son what he does for a living that instead of going after the “villains” by joining the DA’s office, lobbying the Georgia legislature to toughen the penal code, being an advocate for victim’s rights, he opens a personal injury firm. I guess the pay is better. He then takes the “villains” blood money and purchases a 2 minute spot on the Super Bowl showing his transformation from a slick well groomed clean shaven morally compromised attorney into a scruffy bearded bad ass Avenging Angel with the sledge Hammer of Christ. As an attorney who has been practicing PI law for most of my professional career, I have a problem with an attorney who throws his prior clients under the bus along with the whole criminal defense bar. I always believed, along with the 6th amendment, that even the “villains” deserve a competent defense attorney and I never viewed these attorneys who defend them as “notorious” or as the bad guys. I have friends in Legal Aid and its a thankless and tough job that deserves praise not condemnation. As per the style of the commercial, taste is in the eye of the beholder but for me it seems that he was going for a heart felt sincere message but because it was over the top it appeared comical and transparent. It’s not envy to criticize an attorney who demeans his prior clients and an entire bar otherwise its just another amusing attorney commercial to me.

  • Eric Turkewitz 2014.2.5 at 16:41 | Quote

    As an attorney who has been practicing PI law for most of my professional career, I have a problem with an attorney who throws his prior clients under the bus along with the whole criminal defense bar.

    I’m actually a bit surprised that the criminal defense bloggers haven’t criticized him for tossing them all under the bus.

  • Ken Shigley 2014.2.9 at 05:31 | Quote

    When I was president of the State Bar of Georgia in 2011-12 (before Jamie Casino’s brother was killed), I received many complaints from lawyers in Savannah about Casino’s highly unprofessional personal injury ads which held the profession up for ridicule. In one of those ads he featured shady looking figures that gave a Mafia-like impression and told prospective PI clients to “celebrate your settlement with a ride in the Casino limo!” That is just one of several. While our Board of Governors passed proposals to tighten disclosure and disclaimer requirements in lawyer advertising (which are still pending in our Supreme Court), the First Amendment protects commercial speech. Bars can require disclosures and disclaimers relevant to consumer choice, and can prohibit false and misleading statements in ads, but we cannot regulate taste.

    Casinos ads consistently have been distasteful and unprofessional. Every other lawyer in America can condemn such ads, but it appears that does not deter people like Jamie Casino from what they do.

  • Eric Turkewitz 2014.2.9 at 10:44 | Quote

    When I was president of the State Bar of Georgia in 2011-12 (before Jamie Casino’s brother was killed), I received many complaints from lawyers in Savannah about Casino’s highly unprofessional personal injury ads which held the profession up for ridicule.

    That’s interesting, because in the ad he says that he wesn’t always a personal injury attorney, but did criminal defense on behalf of “villains” and that after his brother’s death he turned to PI.

    So he implies it was his brother’s death that turned him to PI, when in fact, he was doing it all along?

    Isn’t that deliberately misleading (in addition to trading on his brother’s death)?

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