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Matter of Zang
Arizona Supreme Court
741 P.2d 267 (1987)
Stephen M. Zang and Peter Whitmer (respondents) formed a law firm that ran newspaper and television ads depicting them as trial attorneys. The ads used scenes from car accidents and hospitals and showed the attorneys in courtroom scenarios. The ads emphasized that the respondents had advantages in preparing cases for trial by using investigators, having medical knowledge, and using computers. The ads portrayed the respondents as capable trial attorneys who tried cases—but they did not, in fact, try cases. Zang, who had a medical degree and experience as a medical-trial consultant but never tried a personal injury case, conceded he could prepare cases for trial but not actually try one. Whitmer had criminal-trial experience but only a few personal-injury trials over a decade earlier. The only trial the firm actually started ended in mistrial after the first witness. The firm filed complaints in only five percent of its cases, then referred those that progressed to trial to outside trial attorneys. Of about 1500 cases handled since its formation, the firm referred some twenty to outside trial counsel, and only about nine of those actually proceeded to trial. The state bar found the respondents’ ads false and misleading as a result.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Feldman, J.)
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