May 10, 2007

Life's Short. Get a Divorce. Be a Pathetic Loser.

Update: Click here for more information on Corri's sexual harassment lawsuit.

This made the news last night, on CNN International. It's one of the more moronic print ads I've ever seen. "Life's short. Be shallow. Divorce your current spouse so you can marry a trophy wife (or husband) only for her (or his) looks, which will fade away in time." And why am I not surprised that the divorce attorney who thought up the ad, Corri Fetman, is herself a divorcee?

Update: After reading the comment below (which is very interesting), I've made a couple of minor changes to this post, changing the picture of the billboard to the new one above, and adding several pictures of Corri Fetman (the more formal of which was taken from the law firm's website).

From ABC News:

EDITOR'S NOTE: The billboard that is that subject of this story was taken down on Tuesday evening by the owners of a parking garage it was attached to, according to Corri Fetman, a lawyer whose firm paid for the advertisement, and witnesses who contacted ABC News when they saw the billboard being taken down. (Last Updated Tuesday, 7:57 p.m EST)

An all-female law firm is turning heads in Chicago with a new billboard and a blunt message:

"Life's Short. Get a Divorce.''

The billboard, sponsored by Fetman, Garland & Associates, Ltd., a firm that specializes in divorce cases, features the six-pack abs of a headless male torso and tanned female cleavage heaving forth from a black lace bra.

The ad is the brainchild of Corri Fetman, who told ABC News' Law & Justice Unit, "Law firm advertising is boring... Everything's always the same. It's lawyers in libraries with a suit on and the law books behind them. They don't say anything. What, I should hire you because you have a law degree? C'mon. So we wanted to try something different."

Reaction from those who work in and around Chicago's divorce courts has been less than enthusiastic.

"It's grotesque," said John Ducanto, past president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. "It's totally undignified and offensive."

"It trivializes divorce and I think it's absolutely disgusting," Rick Tivers, a clinical social worker at the Center for Divorce Recovery in Chicago, told ABC News. "Divorce is traumatic enough without this kind of [advertising]. We try and help people go through the divorce process with as much integrity as possible. A lot of my work is helping people grieve the loss of a divorce, and their own sense of betrayal. This makes divorce seem like it's not a big deal, and it's a huge deal for many people."

Ducanto called on the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee of Supreme Court of Illinois to sanction Fetman. "I don't think they'll just let this pass," said Ducanto, who seemed genuinely hurt by the ad. "I have been in practice for 52 years, and I've worked my ass off to change the image of this particular area of the legal practice, and to see some punk try and pervert the whole image in the interest of lucre. ... Sure, she's got a lot of attention, but it's like a guy who spits on a table — you got the attention, sure, but what kind of attention is it?"


One of the genuine lions of the American divorce courts -- New York's Raoul Felder -- said the ad was a new low for the profession.

"This has to be the Academy Award of bad taste," Felder told ABC News. Fetman is "not your run-of-the-mill Perry Mason lawyer," he opined. "Hell, that's not even 'L.A. Law.' It's bizarre," he said. "I don't think anybody walks away from that ad thinking more of the legal profession that they did before they saw it."

Karen Enright, president-elect of the Women's Bar of Illinois, shared similar feelings. "It's actually a disappointment to the profession and to the institution of marriage, which is something our community holds as sacred," she said. "Our profession, and lawyers in general, have been under attack for advertisements similar to this and I think," she said, pausing. "I think that it's not in good taste."

But Fetman defends the billboard, almost gleefully. Recycling popular catch phrases seems to come naturally to her. "Lawyers don't cause divorces. People cause divorces," she said. "If you think somebody's going to look at a billboard and go out and get a divorce as a result, you're insulting the intelligence of people. If that's the case, our next billboard is going to read, 'Gimme Your Money.'"

The placement of the billboard -- first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times -- is interesting. It peers down into an area of Rush Street known as the "Viagra Triangle" for its three, trendy singles bars in an affluent section of Chicago known as the "Gold Coast."

"Everybody's got a pretty good sense of humor in this neighborhood," said Greg Horan, director of operations for Gibson's Steakhouse, one of the three restaurant/bars in the triangle. The billboard is perched on a parking garage behind the restaurant. "We don't endorse it or anything, but sure, people will look up and get a chuckle out of it."

As far as Fetman is concerned, it's a lighthearted splash of color in an otherwise dreary area of legal advertisement. "It promotes happiness," she said. "It promotes happiness and personal integrity."

And happiness may be something that Fetman, a divorcee, is seeking herself. "By the way, the male body on the billboard? That's my personal trainer, Chuck Sanow," Fetman told ABC News, her girlish voice rising just so. "He's a Chicago firefighter and he owns a gym."

Update: Corri's got a new billboard roaming the streets of Chicago. The story can be read here, and a press release with a better photo of the new ad can be found here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am embarrassed to say that I formerly attended classes with Corri Fetman at DePaul University. Although I had not thought of her in almost two decades, when I learned of the risque billboard my immediate reaction was "nothing changes." Fetman's persona at the law school was that of a spoiled "princess." Although she was a capable student, she probably spent as much if not more time preening and choosing her clothes and jewelry than she did studying her casebooks. She was like a forerunner of Paris Hilton (through the wonders of beauticians and cosmetic surgery it appears that she also wants to become Paris Hilton -- she is now almost unrecognizable to people who attended college with her).

Apparently, she learned legal ethics from watching Callista Flockhart on episodes of "Ally McBeal." The question is whether or not she should be sanctioned by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee for her calculated decision to bring the legal profession into disrepute for the sake of shameless publicity.

Her "personal trainer" remark was hilarious. Isn't it laughable, that so many of the people who boast about their hours spent in the gym at the health club always look to have spent considerable sums on cosmetic surgery? Fetman looks as if she has undergone an extreme makeover of her own, but she is fooling no one. What a total narcissist.

The individual photos of Fetman on her legal web site look like something from an adult escort service. In one pose, the bleach blonde and tanned Fetman appears to be sucking on her glasses after forgetting to button her blouse.

Thankfully, in one of his last official actions, outgoing Chicago Alderman Burton Natarus (42nd Ward) had the offensive billboard removed because Fetman failed to obtain a proper sign permit.

If there is a plus to this sordid mess, it may be an opportunity to review how wrong the US Supreme Court was in its decision to permit lawyers to advertise their services using methods which previously prohibited for decades as being disreputable and injurious to the profession. The liberalization of the rules on legal advertising were premised on Free Speech grounds.

As for the gay divorcee, it may interest readers to know that Fetman's own dissolution of marriage took almost four full years and featured numerous changes of attorneys. Thankfully, no children were involved.