Friday, May 4, 2018
The Toronto Star reported on a lawyer advertising issue
A personal injury law firm that billed itself as the Toronto Blue Jays’ “official” injury lawyers is changing the way it advertises after Ontario’s legal regulator reminded the firm it never worked for the team.
Preszler Law Firm has removed the claim that it was the “Official Personal Injury Firm of the Toronto Blue Jays” from TTC ads, according to a summary of a recent meeting between the Law Society of Ontario and the firm’s managing partner, David Preszler.
The claim was dropped before a regulatory meeting last month to address allegations that Preszler “engaged in improper advertising.” The firm’s marketing also includes ubiquitous television and print ads featuring a distinguished-looking white-haired man, who, as the Star reported last year, is actually an actor.
Preszler, the firm’s managing partner, told the Star in an email that the firm co-operated fully with the law society’s investigation and that no formal discipline was warranted. He said his firm continues to be “proud sponsors” of the Jays but is no longer allowed to call itself the “official personal injury law firm” of the team.
The law society summary, published in a weekly newsletter, notes that the firm and the baseball team had a “sponsorship agreement” and that “the firm never provided legal services to the Toronto Blue Jays.”
It also says the firm, in calling itself the ball club’s official lawyers, and not identifying the spokesperson as an actor, “might mislead, confuse or deceive.” Although the ads did not claim he was a lawyer, “they did not identify him as a spokesperson either.”
More than a year ago, the Star reported that the spokesperson was actor John Fraser, who has appeared in commercials for J.P. Wiser’s Whisky, Tylenol and also appeared in the 1997 movie Good Will Hunting, starring Matt Damon and the late Robin Williams.
The firm now identifies Fraser as a “spokesperson” and “not a lawyer,” on its website, and is editing its ads to include a similar disclaimer. The changes were made around the time the law society began investigating the firm’s advertising practices.
Preszler would not comment about the meeting, but said, “No adverse findings were made against either myself or my firm; formal disciplinary proceedings were not warranted; my firm fully complied with the (law society) investigation; no public complaint has ever been made about my firms marketing/advertizing and this investigation arose only as a result an internal (law society) investigation.”
The firm has pasted a short biography of Fraser on its website.
“John Fraser is not a lawyer,” it reads. “He is the proud spokesperson and marketing associate of Preszler Law Firm. Since 2006, he has helped the firm deliver a positive message relating to access to justice.”
The meeting summary also says Preszler told the law society a disclaimer about Fraser has been added to television advertisements, and that TTC ads with the Blue Jays designation have been taken down and references to the firm’s sponsorship in internet ads have been removed.
Members of the law society committee agreed that the discussion with Preszler was “useful, and that the process made it unlikely that there would be marketing by the firm that might mislead, confuse or deceive in the future,” according to the meeting summary.
A Toronto Blue Jays spokesperson, Sebastian Gatica, told the Star in an email that the team could not comment, but that Preszler is still a sponsor of the Jays.
Title reference anyone? (Mike Frisch)