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Legal Advertising

"spamming" The Net

Legal advertising has found its way into the phone books and onto radio and television. With the growth of the INTERNET as an information and communication resource, lawyers and law firms have established home pages on the World Wide Web to provide legal information and advertise their services. This has created new opportunities and new problems.

In April 1993 Laurence Canter and Martha A. Siegel, of the Phoenix, Arizona, law firm of Canter and Siegel, sent an E-MAIL message to thousands of Internet news groups, advertising their immigration law practice, in the hope of gaining new clients. News groups are electronic bulletin boards where people post messages concerning a very specific topic. They have millions of subscribers.

Canter and Siegel's direct mailing to the news groups cost them virtually nothing compared with the cost of a conventional hard copy mailing. In sending their advertisement, they used a process called spamming, which allows a message to be sent to every news group in existence, regardless of whether a particular group might be interested in the content of the message.

The spamming set off a tidal wave of protests from readers of news groups who were angry that the law firm had violated Internet etiquette. Canter and Siegel's Internet provider received thirty thousand messages, some of which were death threats. The law firm claimed to have received over twenty thousand positive responses and to have gained some new clients.

Though the Internet community and members of the legal community voiced their displeasure at the spamming, Canter and Siegel's advertisement was legal. Their action was analogous to placing an advertisement in a newspaper and hoping a person would read it.


E-mail; Internet.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Labor Department - Employment And Training Administration to Legislative PowerLegal Advertising - "spamming" The Net, Should Legal Advertising Be Restricted?, Further Readings