Friday, September 05, 2014

1379 An Endorsement from the Grave

Celebrity lawyer Robert Shapiro once was pretty well known by sports figures and sports fans.  But it wasn’t until he joined OJ Simpson’s “Dream Team” that the rest of us heard of him.

He didn’t have the courtroom bravado of a Johnny Cochran.  He didn’t have the academic creds of an Alan Dershowitz.  But he was a steady hand in an unsteady case.

While Shapiro still practices law, he’s probably best known today as the face of “Legal Zoom” a company that has turned the rote of legal printing into an empire of homemade lawyers.

Zoom sells you the proper paperwork to make a will or start a corporation or a limited liability partnership or a trust account.

This last is where Shapiro’s company took a wrong turn.

In the email the other day comes a pitch for Legal Zoom.  The headline: “Robin Williams’ Estate Plan No Laughing matter.”  Click on a link and you get a blog entry by one Brette Sember, esq.  Ms. Sember points out that Williams, though suffering financial setbacks at the time of a suicide, provided for his children by creating a trust.

This is a pitch for you to do the same.  She never says let Legal Zoom provide you with guidance and paperwork.  But how can you not infer that that’s what she’d have you do?

Dear Ms. Esq:  thanks for the details.  Do you think Zoom can help us be like Robin Williams?

The stuff she says in the post isn’t wrong. It isn’t a direct pitch for business.  But it is offputting and another nail in Shakespeare’s coffin for lawyers.

You can write about the benefits trusts from now until forever without riding bareback on Williams or anyone else.

What Zoom has sent is a simply cheap, lowbrow, attempt to use the name of a beloved entertainer to drum up business.

Maybe Shapiro was asleep at the switch when this self serving nonsense was fired off. But what are the chances of that?  Maybe he has no control over advertising for the company he fronts.  But what are the chances of that?

This corner of the room has long believed and written that when Shakespeare advocated killing all the lawyers that it was only because the MBA had yet to be invented.

But maybe Will was right after all.


--Joan Rivers’ death at age 81 was no surprise, but it was a shock.  Hard to pick a typical one liner from Rivers’ river of superb zingers, but not impossible. “I’ve had so many plastic surgeries that when I die they’re going to donate my body to Tupperware.”

--Yorkville Endoscopy on Manhattan’s 93rd St. will have some talking to do about Rivers’ minor routine vocal cord procedure … the one where she lost consciousness and apparently the ability to breathe. The New York State Health Department wants to know what happened.  And so do her fans and her daughter.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2014

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