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What's a Celebrity Lawyer?

The New York Daily News reports that "celebrity lawyer" Gloria Allred has filed a lawsuit against "Octomom" Nadya Suleman on behalf of former child actor and child labor advocate Paul Petersen, urging the court to appoint a guardian for Suleman's 14 children to make sure that they get a cut of the proceeds that Suleman will earn from their fame. New York Personal Injury Law Blog's Eric Turkewitz isn't so much concerned with the merits of the case (though like me, he doubts that Allred's client has standing to sue). Instead, he wonders why the media insists on labeling Allred a "celebrity lawyer." What does a celebrity lawyer actually do? He writes:

So someone who pitches her services as being a "celebrity lawyer" is, in fact, saying that she is a Jane-of-all-trades (and, therefore, master of none). But should a major media outlet buy this self-promotional aggrandizement?

Allred's Web site starts with this bit of vomit-inducing narcissism:

Gloria Allred is the most famous woman attorney practicing law in the nation today, a tireless and successful advocate whose high-profile legal battles ...

I don't know the lady but I hate her already. Anyone who writes about themselves that way seems to have an ego so large it would ultimately get in the way of any legal issue presented. If I'm a client, I don't want the case to be about the lawyer. I want it to be about me. My issue. Not the lawyer's desire for fame.

Turkewitz has had his own experience with a celebrity lawyer, whom he describes as "the worst trial lawyer I ever saw. Lots of shtick, but no preparation." So he believes that hiring a celebrity lawyer can be one of the "dumbest things" a client can do.

Still, how do celebrity lawyers get their start if they're so bad? At some point, they must have done something to convince a celebrity to hire or retain them. What's your view? Are there celebrity lawyers whose skills match their reputations, and moreover, their tag line of "celebrity lawyer?"

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on May 5, 2009 at 03:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)


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