Thursday, October 5, 2006
Posted by Mike Frisch
State Bar regulations with respect to lawyer advertising vary widely among the many jurisdictions. Perhaps the most restrictive state is Iowa, where lawyers are prohibited from advertising "unverifiable" claims and may not "rely on emotional appeal or [make] any statement or claim relating to the quality of the lawyer's services." Iowa Rule 7.1. A recent letter from the Federal Trade Commission's Office of Policy Planning, Bureau of Consumer Protection and Bureau of Economics commenting on proposed amendments to ethics rules governing New York attorneys suggests that state regulation may be overly broad and restrictive. The letter lends credence to the suggestion that consumers benefit from "robust competition among attorneys and from important price and quality information that advertising and solicitation can provide." It will be interesting to see the effect of the FTC's position on the proposed New York rules and to see if the anaysis emboldens attorneys in restrictive jurisdictions to challenge bar regulation on the grounds of First Amendment protections.