Study: Trial Lawyers Spent $1.4 Billion on Advertising in 2021

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Trial lawyer groups flooded airways with more than 15 million local TV ads last year

A new report analyzing trial lawyer advertising over the past five years revealed that $6.8 billion was spent on more than 77 million national and local ads between 2017 and 2021.

The American Tort Reform Association released its latest study today, which includes data on spending and frequency of legal services ads in media markets across nearly every U.S. state and Washington, DC.

The nationwide survey shows that trial lawyers and aggregators spend enormous sums of money on television, radio and outdoor advertising to recruit new clients for lawsuits.

“These latest advertising numbers show that plaintiff’s attorneys aren’t slowing down in their relentless pursuit of their next payday,” said American Tort Reform Association President Tiger Joyce. “It is clear that trial lawyers continue to put profits ahead of vulnerable members of our society who are being misled by deceptive ads.”

In 2021, more than 15 million ads for legal services aired on local television broadcast networks in the 210 media markets across the U.S., totaling approximately $971.6 million spent. By comparison, pizza restaurants spent $67.4 million on a mere 845,000 ads while furniture retailers spent $589 million on 4.8 million ads aired on local television broadcast networks. Additionally, trial lawyer groups aired more than 71,000 ads on national cable television at an estimated cost of $97 million.

“Trial lawyer groups spend obscene amounts of money on advertising because they know it’s an effective way to needlessly scare consumers and encourage them to file lawsuits,” Joyce said. “However, these advertisements too often are intentionally misleading and can lead to devastating consequences.”

A 2019 FDA study shows the real-life consequences of deceptive trial lawyer ads. The report found 66 incidents of adverse events following patients discontinuing the use of blood thinner medication (Pradaxa, Xarelto, Eliquis or Savaysa) after viewing a lawyer advertisement. The median patient age was 70 and 98% stopped medication use without consulting with their doctor. Thirty-three patients experienced a stroke, 24 experienced another serious injury, and seven people died. 

Dr. Shawn H. Fleming, doctor for one of the deceased, stated before a 2017 U.S. House Judiciary committee hearing, “It’s my opinion that the tone and content of these advertisements imply a qualitative judgment about these medications that are just not true. When you say call 1-800-BAD-DRUG, that clearly implies it’s a bad drug, which runs counter to current medical evidence and also to the FDA’s recommendations.” 

The number of ads aired by trial lawyer groups across local and cable television, radio, and outdoor billboards has increased more than 30% since 2017.

“These latest advertising numbers point to a disturbing trend in spending nationwide by trial attorney groups over the last half decade,” Joyce said. “Inundating consumers with deceptive ads negatively affects jurors’ perceptions of certain issues and products, and can lead to more frivolous lawsuits being filed by opportunistic trial lawyer groups.”

Six of the Top 10 states with the highest spending on local legal services television ads in 2021 were recently included in the American Tort Reform Foundation’s list of Judicial Hellholes®:

  • California: $85.3 million; 809k ads 
  • Georgia: $60.6 million; 859k ads 
  • New York: $59.3 million; 833k ads 
  • Pennsylvania: $36.2 million; 416k ads 
  • Louisiana: $34.8 million; 783k ads 
  • Illinois: $30 million; 248k ads 

Judicial Hellholes® are deemed the most unjust local courts and state civil justice systems in the country. 

“While some states have taken action to prevent misleading legal advertisements, more state legislatures need to prioritize legislation to increase accountability and transparency in legal ads to protect consumers from bad actors,” Joyce said.

The full report on trial lawyer advertising is available at and utilizes Kantar data.

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