At a June 30 debate on lawyers’ advertising sponsored by the Orlando Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society, plaintiff’s lawyer John Morgan challenged Republican Rep. David Simmons for repeatedly referring to a law firm’s having used the phone number 1-800-PIT- BULL. “He offered to bet Simmons $1,000, with the loser contributing to the winner?s favorite charity, if Simmons could find a lawyer ad using the PIT BULL number,” according to an account in Florida Bar Online.
“Hope Morgan?s checkbook was handy,” the account continues, because, as is easily verified, 1-800-PIT-BULL is indeed the proudly advertised call line of the Fort Lauderdale law firm of Pape and Chandler, which specializes in representing injured motorcyclists. (“1-800-PITBULL is for real”, Florida Bar News Online, Aug. 1; Gary Blankenship, “Orlando Federalists debate lawyer advertising”, Florida Bar News Online, Aug. 1). The firm has been profiled in the Florida press: a 2002 account in the Miami Herald says its “pit bull” commercial, which has run during Jerry Springer’s talk show among other programs, “brings in as many as 60 phone calls a day”. (Cindy Krischer Goodman, “Pit bull ad pays off for Miami lawyers”, Sept. 16, 2002 (reg)). The Florida Bar has also sought to discipline the firm for its ads: Julie Kay, “Crackdown on Lawyer Ads”, Miami Daily Business Review, Jul. 12. See also Matthew Haggman, “Fla. Lawmakers May Vote Today to Curb Lawyer Advertising”, Miami Daily Business Review, Mar. 23. For more, see David Giacalone, May 10. (Update Sept. 19, 2004: Florida Bar disciplinary attempt ruled unconstitutional; Jan. 15, 2006: Florida Supreme Court rules against firm.)
According to Kevin O’Keefe of Real Lawyers Have Blogs (Dec. 5, 2003), “Morgan of the Orlando law firm Morgan, Colling & Gilbert (MGC), his wife and Johnnie Cochran, along with Pensacola trial lawyers J. Michael Papantonio and Fred Levin, own a consulting firm called Practice Made Perfect, which handles marketing and advertising for law firms around the country.” For yet more on Morgan, see the last sentence in our Jul. 27 entry.