Thoughts on the Legal Profession in Tampa

Bill-Schifino-Florida-Bar The Tampa Bay Times was able to catch up with our friend William Schifino Jr., an attorney in Tampa who is now the president of the Florida Bar, to discuss the state of legal professions in the Tampa Bay area.

Saturation in the Legal Market

If you are client searching for a personal injury attorney in Tampa, it may seem like there are a lot of different options for attorneys to choose from. But the market isn’t as saturated as local advertising makes out to be. In a market with seemingly so many options for personal injury attorneys in Tampa, we find it interesting to know what the future of our industry looks like. Florida tossing around the idea of reciprocity was a fire topic in 2015, and now that is behind us the Times raised a good question. The question has come up in the past if the Florida Bar should regulate the amount of new attorneys coming to market so it doesn’t get oversaturated. Our goal as Tampa Bay Personal Injury Attorneys is to provide quality service at a reasonable rate. We don’t become too concerned with an oversaturated market for personal injury attorneys, but we do think there would be negative repercussions for clients seeking personal injury services in an actual overcrowded market. It’s encouraging to hear the president of the Florida Bar state that the system as it stands is working out fine to not “oversaturate” the market…but, he also points out that is all likely due to the issue of a lower pass rate of the bar exam, which is a troubling issue in itself.

From the Times Article:
Q. Is the Bar doing anything to encourage schools to limit their enrollments?

What I can tell you is that when I look at the statistics of the pass rates of certain law schools, that to me is a bit troubling. If you’ve got a law school with a 60 percent pass rate my heart goes out to those students who went through three years of law school and can’t pass the Bar exam. I’m in no way suggesting that it’s the law school’s fault, but the number of college students applying to law school is down significantly so I think the free market system is doing the encouraging (of lower enrollments).

Tampa Personal Injury Firms Advertising

Q. Some Florida lawyers are getting quite aggressive in their advertising. One billboard pictures a lawyer rolling up his sleeves and saying, “I’ll fight for you.” Another shows one wielding a baseball bat. Ours is supposed to be a country where we settle things by rule of law, not violence. Do you think these kinds of ads are appropriate?

A. It’s free speech and we can’t do anything to stop it. But I think the public is a lot smarter than people give them credit for and I don’t think that (kind of ad) is persuasive. I think it does the profession a disservice.

It’s great to read this response from the head of the Florida Bar. We don’t really advertise as much a lot of other personal injury attorneys in the Tampa Bay Area, but when we do, we approach our message a little differently than spewing the toughest and most aggressive rhetoric. Our firm is based on personal attention and compassion, empathy, and an understanding of the personal impact an injury has on our clients and their family. Further, there are actually Florida Bar advertising guidelines that are a mile long for every form of media, nobody is playing bar police with other attorneys (well who would have the time for that anyhow) and while punching the screen and screaming aggression isn’t against the rules, some of the ads likely cross other lines. We feel that most clients we would want to work with align with our values based on our ads. We all want people we hire to fight for us, and work hard – but Bill Schifino is on point when he stated that believes the aggressive ads aren’t persuasive. Perhaps aggressive lawyering is also not effective…

Read the full Times Article »

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