This PR invention is counter-productive to the firms involved and the profession as a whole.
It’s as traditional a January sight as discarded Christmas trees in the street and queues at the gym for members’ annual visits.
It is, of course, ‘Divorce Day’ – that time of year when over-exuberant press officers pump out the line that today is the peak season for divorce applications.
After two weeks in each other’s company, this is the day when couples apparently decide they’ve had enough and ring the solicitor.
It’s a line that is swallowed hook, line and sinker by a media still struggling to find stories to fill pages post-Christmas.
For a start, this Divorce Day business is probably nonsense anyway. Most law firms will have closed for two weeks over Christmas and new year, so I would imagine inboxes are bound to be full of new divorce applications – as they are full of all sorts of legal enquiries.
It smacks of the kind of PR-led nonsense that caused crowds to fight for discounts on Black Friday last month.
But whereas we should expect no different of shops with tat to sell, why are law firms resorting to these sorts of measures?
They may bring in a few extra enquiries, but do many readers really see ‘Bloggs & Co’ quoted in such a depressing story and immediately think of them as a perfect answer to their legal needs? If anything, I’d probably conclude that the named firm is simply trying to cash in on one of life’s miseries and steer clear of them in future.
Lawyers, it won’t have escaped your attention, are not highly regarded amongst the public. The personal injury sector succumbed to the lure of damaging marketing campaigns, and now family lawyers are following them. The public thinks the legal profession delights in misfortune because it can make money from it – inventing Divorce Day simply feeds that perception.
What is disingenuous is that most press releases try so hard not to appear gleeful about the potential increase in divorce numbers.
Releases carry titles along with lines of ‘Five ways to avoid a divorce’ or ‘Our guide to saving a marriage’. Only further down the release do firms suggest that if you really must divorce, they offer excellent rates.
This faux-sentiment mixed with discreet adverts is about as sincere as my promise to eat fewer Yorkies in 2015. The fact that Divorce Day is now such a tradition is as depressing as January itself.
John Hyde is Gazette deputy news editor