A week ago, I saw something that really pissed me off.
As I wrote in my September 11, 2010 post, it was an advertisement on a bench that said “PREER A JEWISH LAWYER! Jewish Lawyer Referral Service. JEWISH AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION.” If you want to see the ad, check out my original post or my follow-up. The ad was right outside of the Broward County Courthouse, and right outside of my home. I had to see it every day, multiple times a day, and every time I saw it, it felt like a punch in the gut.
How could someone so blatantly and openly trot out ethnic stereotypes?
And how come I never heard of the “Jewish American Bar Association.”
I was angry, and I started digging.
I don’t think the public realizes the amount of information that is out there and is available. Twenty years ago this information may have been available, but it would have required official letters and requests to who knows how many agencies in order to get it. Today, you just have to know where to look online.
Google easily found me their site, which has changed a number of times since my first post. But the site didn’t really tell me anything. It was poorly designed, self serving, and full of plagiarized and extraneous information having to do with nothing (such as a “Mission Statement” that was the Asian American Bar Association’s with the word Jewish substituted for Asian, plus a list of offensive Jewish jokes).
The first place I looked was the Florida Secretary of State’s Website, Sunbiz.org. There, you can look up any business entity, be it corporation, general partnership, limited partnership, or limited liability company (LLC) licensed to do business in Florida.
And there is was —the Sunbiz.org Page for the “Jewish American Bar Association, Inc”
The “Inc.” is a nice, and telling, touch. The Jewish American Bar Association filed as a “foreign” (meaning another state, not another country) for Profit Corporation on August 14, 2009. It lists its mailing address in Boca Raton, its Registered Agent, and Officers and Directors (which is where I got the name Lisa Spitzer). It even has a copy of the handwritten Application by a Foreign Corporation to Transact Business in Florida. From there, I checked out their information on the Delaware Secretary of State’s website, and did a little snooping as to their addresses, and related companies.
From there, I just starting writing. I saw something that I knew was wrong and it pissed me off. It wasn’t just wrong because of the “Jewish” part, although that’s what first jolted me. It was wrong because it was a for profit organization claiming to be a “Bar Association” in violation of the law. It was misleading and deceptive.
And yes, I found it offensive.
I want clients to prefer David Shulman. Not necessarily a “Jewish Lawyer.”
Anyway, I saw today that the ad was gone, replaced with an advertisement for the generic AAA Attorney Referral Service, Inc.
I don’t know whether or not there were other “Prefer a Jewish Lawyer” bench ads, or if the company is going to advertise elsewhere. I contacted the Florida Bar, which seemed responsive to my concerns.
At this point, I feel I did my part. Now I’m going to let the Florida Bar do theirs.