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'TopLawyers' Floods YouTube, Web

Want to see 99 nearly identical videos of the same woman making the same lawyer-referral pitch, each different only for the city it names? Better yet, for a truly surreal experience, open multiple versions of the video in multiple tabs of your browser, so her voice becomes a late-night-TV echo of itself, starting with the same bad joke and ending with her urging viewers to "click and connect." All this fun can be yours, thanks to "Top Lawyers in (Name a City)."

Over the last few days, YouTube has been flooded with these videos, all posted to the page http://youtube.com/user/TopLawyers.  Each bears a title such as Top Lawyers in Reno or Top Lawyers in Newark. And each has the same woman repeating the same words, save for naming the particular city at the beginning and end. Somewhere along the line, she changes her outfit, from a red jacket and black blouse to a black jacket and red blouse, but that is the only deviation. The videos are tied to a series of Top Lawyers Web sites, all appearing to have been recently launched, one for each of 99 cities, from Akron and Albuquerque to Winston-Salem and Yonkers. All are identified as owned by Domain Marketing Resources in Houston. 

The sites are heavily weighted with mentions of a Houston law firm, the Johnson Law Group. The Top Lawyers in Boston page, for example, prominently shows its "Featured Lawyer Video" for "Nick Johnson, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer," even though Johnson's firm site does not show a Boston office. Some Top Lawyers pages come up blank, such as Top Lawyers in Las Vegas, even though there is a Top Lawyers in Las Vegas video. Others have strange errors, such as another "Featured Lawyer" profile on the front page of the Boston site for birth-injury lawyer Joseph A. Pellegrino that links to a page for brain-injury lawyer Kenneth Kolpan (and misspells his name as Koplan).

I don't understand lawyer-marketing sites such as these. In the wake of Avvo's launch earlier this year, there has been much discussion about the need for reliable and neutral resources that consumers can use to find lawyers. To me, this latest string of Top Lawyers sites underscores that need and demonstrates why attempts by Avvo and others to provide "unbiased" ratings will prove better for consumers in the long run.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on October 12, 2007 at 06:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

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