Discount legal advice? Lawyers offer services on Groupon - FOX 32 News Chicago

Discount legal advice? Lawyers offer services on Groupon

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Nowadays, lawyers advertise on TV, billboards, and social media. Now, the American Bar Association says that if they're careful about how they do it, they can also offer special deals of the day through companies like Groupon.

Groupon customers say they're used to seeing deals for restaurants and beauty services. Today's coupons offered anti-aging treatments for $199 and fleece-lined tights, for under $20. One service that's rarely been offered is legal advice.

"I haven't heard any lawyer in Chicago use Groupon!" says Defense Attorney Joe Lopez.

But that may change. The new ABA opinion says lawyers can offer Groupon-type deals without violating ethics rules. So before long, DUI defendants could be shopping for lawyers on Groupon.

Attorney Dan Feeney, who advises lawyers on ethical matters, says criminal defense attorneys are not as likely to take advantage of Groupon as other lawyers.

"Where it's happened before, as in estate planning, and I think it could also happen in very simple commercial real estate deals, like selling a house, or buying a house," Feeney says. "But even then there are issues, not every will is the same and not every house deal is the same."

Law professor Richard Kling teaches professional ethics. He doesn't think coupons for legal advice are a good idea and doesn't believe they'll take off.

"I think it would be impossible to use in cases that are going to last more than an hour," he says. "You know, maybe for a one hour consultation, it's a possibility."

Defense Attorney Joe Lopez agrees.

"We're not selling shoes or wine, we're selling legal services," adds Lopez. "In fact, some of my Facebook followers yesterday said they felt it cheapened the industry we're in."

A spokesman for Groupon told FOX 32, "We look forward to working with attorneys across the country to advertise their practices and help bring affordable legal services to consumers."

Some consumers told us, though, looking to Groupon for legal services might not be comfortable.

"I tend to stay away from like, big decision choices, with Groupon. For lasik eye surgery, or things like that, I try to stay clear of big things, but for things like restaurants or getting your nails done, I think it's worth it," Lindstrom tells FOX 32.

The American Bar Association's opinion warns that even though Groupon-style marketing can be ethical, lawyers need to be very careful. As one of the lawyers put it, it's not really a green light for Groupon ads. It's more like a yellow light--proceed with caution.

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