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For many years, lawyers have battled in courtrooms across the country regarding telemarketing laws. Public outrage led lawmakers to create a national “Do Not Call” list. Telemarketers immediately went on the defense and told judges and attorneys their rights to free speech had been trampled on. On the other side of the controversy, of course, were consumers who’d grown weary of answering countless phone calls on a daily basis from those pedaling everything from timeshares to credit cards.

Over the past couple of years, there has been some degree of a cease fire declared as the telephone has been replaced with spam email. Still, this hot button issue was front and center all during the 1990s, says A. Harrison Barnes, lawyer and founder. While millions of Americans signed the petitions that would prevent telemarketers from calling their homes, companies were in the process of gaining access to the massive databases that included cell phone numbers and even email addresses. The question then became whether or not telemarketing and other similar electronic methods were even still productive. Many lawyers, including A. Harrison Barnes, say with so much spam hitting our inboxes, these days, it’s likely the delete button has proven a far more effective tool than any do not call lists.

But where do those initial laws that were put on the books years ago come into play, if at all? There are still an impressive number of telemarketing companies in business. This suggests that despite the bad rap these companies, they must be earning profits on some level to withstand the difficulties and what are surely lean times. One thing’s for sure, all of the courtroom drama and attorneys doing battle over which had more preference, the right to privacy or freedom of speech considerations, has had to have paid off on some level. Many lawyers are still earning impressive fees from representing either the companies themselves or the consumers involved in any of the class action lawsuits.

These efforts are being spearheaded by various associations. The focus is on promoting telemarketing, fighting negative images and stereotypes as well as gathering industry research in an effort to ensure this field remains competitive. Further, the industry has many lawyers who lobby against those newer laws that make gaining access to email addresses illegal. Many of these associations also host conferences, promote marketing efforts and police those less than ethical businesses. The founder says this is one industry that’s proven resilient over the years, despite any controversies.

In 2003, the number of American consumers who’d registered for the national do not call registry hovered near 62 million. Those numbers continue to increase each year.
While telemarketing might have lost part of its attraction, there remains a definitive niche in the world of marketing for these companies.

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