Nowhere is the great divide between the plaintiffs bar and Big Law perhaps more obvious than in attorney advertising.

Forty years ago this month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in U.S. v. Arizona Bar that lawyers had a constitutionally protected right to advertise their services.

Since then, personal injury firms—and some criminal defense shops—have boldly peddled their offerings on TV, billboards, buses and trains.

Big Law has taken a decidedly more conservative tack, starting with modest “tombstone” ads that quietly announced new partners. Large firms later moved into glossy print ads with animals aplenty. Some edgier large firms along the way even ventured into TV, but economic downturns squelched that sort of creative thinking.

In this retrospective, we show you the evolution of large law firm advertising, the brash campaigns of some plaintiffs firms, and the stark contrast between the two camps.

A Look Back at Big Law Advertising from A to ZZZZZ

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 40 years ago that lawyers could advertise, personal injury shops got busy asking people if they’d been hurt in an accident. But Big Law has taken a risk-averse approach to ads, with a few very notable exceptions.

Plaintiffs Lawyer Advertising Proves Ever Bolder

Personal injury firms account for 23 of the top 25 Google keywords that link ads to online searches.

The Big Law Ad Evolution

Forty years ago this month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that lawyers had a First Amendment right to advertise their services. And the law firm ad was born. Here’s a look at how far—or not—Big Law advertising has come since the 1977 decision in Bates v. Arizona Bar.