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Saturday, May 12, 2007
In the News
Racy Billboard Solicits Divorce Business
"Life's short. Get a divorce."
That was the message on an eye-grabbing, billboard-sized sign put up last week by a Chicago law firm in an affluent area of the city known as "the gold coast."
The sign featured the bodies of two models -- a male with six-pack abs and a female overflowing out of a black lacy bra. Besides the five-word message, the sign also gave the phone number of Fetman, Garland & Associates Ltd., a firm that specializes in divorce cases.
While reaction to the sign has been mixed, the majority of responses, including those of many in the legal profession, was strongly negative. John Ducanto, past president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, described the ad as "grotesque," adding "It's totally undignified and offensive."
"It trivializes divorce and I think it's absolutely disgusting," said Rick Tivers, a clinical social worker at the Center for Divorce Recovery in Chicago. "This makes divorce seem like it's not a big deal, and it's a huge deal for many people.'' Similar sentiments were expressed by many people on the Chicago streets who saw the sign. Some others, however, viewed it more lightheartedly.
The sign was the idea of attorney Corri Fetman, who defended it, arguing that most legal advertising is boring. She also maintained that it just drew attention to her law firm, and that no one is going to get a divorce simply because a sign urges him or her to do so. "If you're already going to leave your spouse, the ad will appeal to you. If you do want to leave, you don't have to feel bad about it. Be honest with yourself and with your spouse," Fetman said.
On Wednesday, a week after the sign appeared, and following numerous complaints from both members of the legal profession and the general public, the sign was pulled down by order of the local alderman, Burton Natarus. He pointed out that the firm had failed to get a permit to erect it. Natarus said that his order had "nothing to do with content or anything else. They did not have a permit and they were ordered to take it down."
Nonetheless, Fetman's firm reports an upsurge in business since the sign appeared.
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