Thursday, May 3, 2007

Illinois State Bar Association


The Illinois State Bar Association has launched a $270,000 public relations campaign to build confidence in the legal profession. Guess who they chose to be the face of the campaign?

The new ads feature a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, along with the message: “Our state has a history of some pretty good lawyers. We’re out to keep it that way.”

I was not surprised to see Lincoln in their advertisements, but why did they choose that picture? That is the famous “Gettysburg Pose” from 1863. Yes, it is an iconic photograph, but it comes from Lincoln’s presidency, not from his days on the Illinois law circuit. Seems to me as if this photo would be a much more appropriate choice:

This “white suit photo” was taken in 1858 to commemorate the famous “Almanac Trial,” in which Lincoln earned an acquittal for Duff Armstrong, who was on trial for murder.

Quibbles aside, I wish the ISBA the best of luck in their efforts. According to surveys, Illinois lawyers are concerned about the image of the legal profession. Ethical concerns have always plagued the legal profession. Lincoln was no exception. Not only was he concerned with his profession’s reputation, but he even prepared a few remarks on the subject. CLICK HERE to read Lincoln’s advice to lawyers.

2 comments:

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david wojdyla said...

You make an excellent point, Mr. Wheeler.

In fact Carl Draper, a Springfield attorney and Co-Chair of the Standing Committee on Strategic Marketing for Illinois Lawyers, made the same observation.

But at the end of the day, ISBA execs had to agree with the two reasons why we lobbied for the Gettysburg Lincoln.

> It's much more recognizable because it's iconic (as you point out);

> It's in the public domain. So it was free.

(When you're trying to improve public perception of lawyers with limited funds, every penny counts!)