Many years ago, when the possibility of living in the United States was initially presented to me, my first action was to stroll up the road to Dulwich library and have a look in their travel section. They had a copy of either the Rough Guide to America, or possibly the Lonely Planet version, and on the first page I read that Americans are a naturally litigious people, in more or less those words so far as I am able to recall. The information was offered just as guides to other countries might helpfully point out folky affectations like the Chinese love of tradition or the German disdain for littering. Americans very much enjoy taking you to court, was the implication. They will sue you if the coffee you have just served them is too hot, or if they should slip and fall in a puddle of your urine, or if the shape of your head has caused them to recall some long-forgotten childhood trauma. They can't help it. It's just how they are.
Despite having lived here for five years, I haven't yet been sued by anyone, and nor have I myself yet had cause to take anyone to court. Nevertheless, I could hardly have failed to miss the cultural emphasis on legal matters. Had I required the services of a lawyer in England, I would have had to look in the phone directory in order to find one, but here they're everywhere - adverts screaming at you from both television and billboard. At last I understand why almost every imported American television show of my childhood was about either cops, detectives, or mystery-fixated teenagers investigating the legitimacy of property rights claimed upon an assortment of abandoned fairgrounds and disused mines.
Anyway, as to the aforementioned lawyers, here are my favourites:
Jim Adler, the Texas Hammer. The hammer epithet serves to suggest that when it comes to law, this guy doesn't fuck about, whilst cannily circumnavigating problems which might arise were he to advertise himself as Jim Adler, the Guy Who Doesn't Fuck About - easily offended persons suing him for public usage of the word fuck, for example. Adler's promotional strategy serves to illustrate how some things just don't directly translate in cultural terms - an English lawyer advertising himself as, for example, Derek Fitzgibbons, the Gloucestershire Hobnail Boot would simply come across as weird and cranky and by association potentially ineffective in a courtroom scenario. Jim Adler's television commercial features the man himself, shouting at the viewer whilst stood on top of the cab of a huge truck, and specifically shouting about how much money he may be able to get for you should your car be involved in a wreck involving a huge truck. The most impressive thing is that Jim does not seem a particularly young man, but the fact of his being stood shouting his lungs out on top of a huge truck really helps to convey the idea that you probably wouldn't like him when he's angry.
Thomas J. Henry. I don't know much about Thomas J. Henry, but he seems to have offices everywhere so I guess he must be good at his job. Most of his television advertising seems to show him - a smart suited gent of stern demeanour and possibly in his late-fifties - walking towards the camera in slow motion with a slight frown. He may be walking through dry ice, or possibly a darkened hall with a lot of marble surfaces, and I have a feeling that Die Liebe by Laibach was on the soundtrack somewhere, although I could be wrong about that. Anyway, Thomas J. Henry walks frowning towards the camera and then executes a half-turn so as to stand in profile facing the viewer, like we're watching the trailer for The Avengers vs. Thomas J. Henry. Sometimes I wonder, if I went around to Thomas J. Henry's house to see if he wanted to come out for a game of football, would he walk down the hall in slow motion before executing a dramatic half-turn upon reaching the front door?
David Komie, the Attorney that Rocks. My wife and I passed a billboard advertising this guy's services as we were visiting the People's Republic of Austin. Presumably he represents those undergoing prosecution for violation of puff-puff-pass statutes or else found accused of harshing the plaintiff's mellow. His name came up during a conversation on facebook not too long ago, compelling some other person from Austin to opine I remember that guy when he was just some clean cut ambulance chaser in a shitty suit, or words to that effect, allegedly. I supposes this constitutes a lesson regarding what can happen if you live in Austin too long.
Tessmer Law Firm. They're probably very good, but I've personally found their billboards weird and off-putting. Most of them seem to show a businessy looking woman, presumably Heather Tessmer herself, smouldering into the camera as bold type asks ever had an argument with a woman? The question seems reliant on an understanding of women as being more or less as described by male comedians from the north of England during the 1970s, namely talkative and devious, bordering on evil. The question might almost be ever had an argument with my mother-in-law? Additionally, given that Heather Tessmer is notably easy on the eye, the advertising seems to suggest - at least to me - an additional promise which I won't specifically identify because I'm writing about a member of the legal profession and I'm not a complete fucking idiot.
Bryan Wilson, Texas Law Hawk. Bryan Wilson is based in Fort Worth and only came to my attention as I was googling for the identity of a San Antonio lawyer advertised by means of a billboard where a blown-up image of the guy is augmented by a giant three-dimensional fibreglass hand looming out of the poster as we drive past on our way to eat Mexican food. I was unable to deduce the identity of the man with the huge three-dimensional hand, but I found this guy instead. He begins his television commercial by running towards the camera whilst holding the national flag proudly aloft, followed by a slightly puzzling collage of images as our man roars that he is hungry for justice, then settling into an imagineered scenario in which four patently innocent men are busted by a cop during a game of - and I'm not making this up - Hungry Hippos. If this has ever happened to you, then it would seem that Bryan Wilson is your boy. I don't know much about the law, or anything at all about Bryan Wilson, but having watched his commercial I already like the guy.
Wayne Wright. I don't know much about Wayne Wright either, but he always comes across as being about fifty times more trustworthy than any politician you care to name whenever he's on the telly, which I suppose isn't that much of an achievement but seemed worth mentioning anyway. He wears a stetson and seems to know what he's talking about. Someone called Albert, writing on the company website says after I called Wayne Wright, he told the insurance company there was a new sheriff in town, which probably tells you more or less where the guy is coming from.
DISCLAIMER: This essay is intended for entertainment purposes only. No responsibility can be accepted by either author or publishers for occurrences arising from misuse of the above text towards any ends other than entertainment related. The author does not represent any of the individuals or organisations named above and makes no claim as to reflecting their interests or indeed having anything either useful or legally binding to say about them. The author has no money and isn't worth suing.