Monday, February 25, 2008
Posted by Jeff Lipshaw
Over at Legal Ethics Forum, David Hricik has a link to an update on one of the great social issue legal proceedings of our time, right up there with Arlen Specter's investigation into taping of pro football practices: the New Jersey proceeding on whether advertising that you are a "Super Lawyer" is a deceptive and misleading practice.
I admit I'm biased, because for a short time in my life, I was voted by my peers, whoever the hell they were, as one of Indiana's Super Lawyers, and I have the certificate to prove it (see left). It didn't do me a whole lot of good, because I was the general counsel of a company, and wasn't looking for clients. In fact, the other way around. I think I got nominated because lawyers around Indianapolis were looking for business. Now there's a question worth investigating. Is it a violation of the ethical strictures to solicit business from a company by nominating its general counsel as a Super Lawyer? Does it make a difference if you don't really believe the general counsel is a Super Lawyer?
Here are some other more troubling questions. For some reason, I stopped being a Super Lawyer after 2004. This may have something to do with the fact that I didn't have any business to award after 2004. If I were to advertise myself as a Super Lawyer, would I have to say that I used to be a Super Lawyer, but I'm not one anymore? Or would that be self-evident from the fact that I'm now a law professor? The article to which Professor Hricik links says: "The Federal Trade Commission weighed in last year with an amicus brief saying the ads weren't deceptive and that the prohibition restricts the flow of information to consumers. The FTC said the court could solve the problem simply by requiring disclaimers." I assume, in my case, the maxim "those who can, do; those who can't, teach" would obviate even the need for a disclaimer.