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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

If I were a social activist…

The WikiLeaks DDoS attacks along with today's WSJ story about porn sites tricking advertisers by flooding paid-link sites with clicks from people visiting those porn sites brings to mind some social activism scenarios that actually appeal to me. Let me say in advance that I have not tried these, but in my fantasy mind I can see some novel ideas for my fictional characters. This post is intended for your entertainment only and should not be construed as a call to action. I'll share my call to action with you in the final paragraphs, as I'm looking for a law firm gutsy enough to try this.

FICTIONAL SCENARIO ONLY:  Are you as irritated as I am about all the personal injury lawyers advertising on television? Lines like, "My own father died of [name the disease here], so I have a personal interest in seeing you properly compensated." Or this one gets me every time: "If you're a drunk driver, you will answer to me, [name of attorney here]." What the world doesn't realize (my father is still a practicing attorney) is that the client pays 33% of any money gained in a settlement with the insurance company, and if the case goes to trial the fee jumps to 50%. For those of you who may be wondering why your health and automobile insurance are skyrocketing, one of the big reasons is a growth industry known is personal injury law. Forget tort reform. Lobbyists for the trial lawyers have the "fix" well and truly in (remember presidential candidate John Edwards, who made his money as a personal injury superstar attorney?). In my fictional scenario, a group of "activists" who wanted to see tort reform take place from a grass roots level might arrange a massive click-through campaign to Google ads placed by personal injury attorneys. They pay big bucks for certain keywords. They'd target the guys who are also advertising on television and who buy the back covers of the telephone books. A steady trickle of clicks (not a greedy deluge) could bring these firms to their knees. Cleverly done, especially using principles of The Perfect Virus, this could be done without exposing the perpetrators to civil or criminal liability.

MY REAL-LIFE CALL TO ACTION:  For a couple of years now, I've been trying to convince an attorney friend of mine (a non-advertising/non-ambulance-chasing attorney I might ad), to take on the greedy personal injury attorneys in a new kind of go-viral-in-a-big-way online video attack. The simple visual would mimic the Macintosh-vs-Windows ad look-and-feel, only there'd be just one spokesman standing on an all-white background. I'm going to use my friend's name, since he's not the typical greed-head personal injury lawyer. If some of you need an attorney, his name is unusual enough that you could easily Google him. Here's what his television commercial would say:
My name is Denver Snuffer, and I'd like to tell you the truth about all the personal injury attorneys who are advertising on television, trying to get your business. For those of you who have been injured in an accident, had a faulty hip replacement, or had a loved one die of an asbestos-caused disease, what good old "Siefried and Roy" or the "One-call-does-it-all" yahoos aren't telling you is that they'll take from thirty-three to fifty percent of your award as their legal fee. That's one third to one half. Well, I don't advertise on TV or buy the back cover of the phone book. But I'm an agent of change. And just like literary agents, my fee is only fifteen percent of your out-of-court settlement Twenty percent if we have to go to trial. Literary agents get twenty percent if they sell international rights or do a movie deal. That's what an agent of change should charge. My name is Denver Snuffer. I am an agent of change. 
Well, unfortunately Denver doesn't charge the 15-20%. But I'll bet he'll negotiate in that neighborhood. Because he owns the building in which is practices law, and he doesn't advertise on television or on the back covers of the phone book. And he'd rather scrap it out in court rather than take the easy money settlements that keep the big-name guys rolling in dough. Denver is a warrior.

If enough of you call Denver and negotiate these lower rates, maybe his business will metamorpihize into that model, after which I'll film the above viral ad with him. It would be fun to watch all the personal injury cockroaches run for cover.

In the meantime, my fictional scenario above could give me an entertaining throw-away plot element in the sequel to my novel.

Heh heh.

1 comment:

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