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Ambulance ad receives board approval

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A law firm’s proposed billboard ad showing a speeding ambulance and featuring the words “Ambulances Chase Us,” has won Board of Governors approval after the firm added features to make it clear it was only joking.

The Board of Governors in September, ratifying the recommendation of the Standing Committee on Advertising, had rejected the law firm’s first submission of the ad.

This time the firm added the image of a yellow “sticky note” with the words “not really” and a further disclaimer that the image of the rushing ambulance with flashing lights is “not based on actual events.”

The Standing Committee was unable to reach an agreement on the second version and forwarded it to the board. Board member Tom Bopp, chair of the Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics, said the committee, after voting 6-3 to recommend against the ad’s first iteration, this time voted 7-2 to recommend approval, even though many committee members found it in poor taste.

“Under the rules is it misleading or not? I think it no longer is and I think we would have to show that [it is misleading] to stand up in court,” Bopp said.

Board members Gary Lesser and Lorna Brown-Burton were the two BRCPE members who voted against the ad. They told the board despite what they consider the billboard’s bad taste, the issue to them is it implies that lawyers chase ambulances for clients and that ambulances can solicit clients on behalf of lawyers, neither of which is allowed under Bar rules.

“It really doesn’t solve the problems,” Brown-Burton said, of the sticky note and disclaimer.

Board member Jack Hickey said while he doesn’t like the ad and it probably helps those who are critical of personal injury lawyers, he thinks the ad is probably protected by the First Amendment.

The board approved the ad by voice vote, with several dissents. It had rejected the ad 18-14 in September.

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