Date of Award

Spring 1989

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Scotton, James F.

Second Advisor

Pokrywczynski, James

Third Advisor

Crowley, John H.

Abstract

Each year since the 1977 Bates v. State Bar of Arizona United States Supreme Court decision, the legal profession has become more advertising and market oriented. That decision removed the professionally induced prohibition on lawyer advertising. Previous studies of lawyer advertising are divisible into four areas of investigation: lawyers' opinions of lawyer advertising, attitudinal effects of lawyer advertising on the consumer, lawyer and consumer attitudes in comparison to each other, and factors which influence consumers to use lawyer advertising as a source of information. The majority of these studies are concerned with lawyers' opinions regarding lawyer advertising. This area was almost the exclusive focus of the early studies on this topic. This study uses the one-shot case study design formulated by Campbell and Stanley (1963). A telephone survey was conducted which drew its sample from the universe of adult U.S. residents and the sampling frame of adult telephone owners who reside in the Milwaukee, WI area. The sample consisted of 234 respondents, and generally reflects the demographics of Milwaukee. Such characteristics as age, occupation, and income were in general agreement. Education and Zip code distribution in the sample did not reflect the Milwaukee population. Analysis of the sample consisted of the use of ANOVA, multiple regression, Pearson and one-way ANOVA testing. This study attempted to examine the effects of and the relationship between the following variables: perceived amount of information concerning lawyers at five sources (newspapers, television, Yellow Pages, family/friends, and other lawyers), salience of three types of information (fees, reputation, and specialty), likelihood of using the five sources for gaining information about lawyers, perceived amount of advertising at general media sources (newspapers, television, and Yellow Pages), previous experience, media usage, and socio-economic status. The findings indicate that information-seeking strategies used by consumers when looking for lawyers are very broad. Preferences among information types are generally not identified before the search commences. The information search is conducted at those sources where the most information can be gained. For every general media source, the more advertising thought to be at the source, the less information thought to be there. This was found to be strongest for newspapers, followed by television and then the Yellow Pages. The Yellow Pages and family and friends had special effects on two tested relationships: between perceived overall amount of information at a source and previous experience, and between previous experience and likelihood of using a source. With the Yellow Pages, the higher an individual's previous experience, the more information he thinks is in the Yellow Pages, but the less likely he is to use it. With family and friends, the more previous experience an individual has, the less information he thinks his friends have and the less likely he is to consult them regarding lawyers. Only reputation had any connection to socio-economic status. Reputation's negative relationship showed that the low and medium socioeconomic groups thought reputation information more salient than the high socio-economic groups.

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