Monday, February 25, 2008

Confessions of a Super Lawyer

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 Img150 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.

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I thought it was now, "Those who can't, blog."

But either way.

Posted by: Alan Childress | Feb 25, 2008 8:14:46 AM

I've been running a few posts on Super Lawyer at:
Don't do well on computers but would like to gain more reliable info on the subject.

Posted by: charles f. buntack | Dec 13, 2008 3:51:44 AM

A recent Super Lawyer ad tells us he was--"the lawyer selected by more than 38,000 attorneys as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer". Now this less than candid fellow carries the title of Officer of the Court. The vast majority of approximately 46,000 attorneys in PA don't get involved with this sort of misleading nonsense, surely less than 5%, but still that's an astounding 2,300 attorneys "seeking to get a leg up on the competition"

Be that as it may, even if every one of these 2,300* attorneys voted for this lawyer as a"super"( a very silly assumption) we still have a wild exaggeration that can only be resolved if each participating lawyer is granted ,not one vote but, perhaps 300 to 500 votes or so.

*My posting of 1/16/2009 goes into more detail relating to actual Connecticut voting results.

Posted by: charles f. buntack | Jun 6, 2009 12:45:49 PM

The more one delves into this Super Lawyer nonsense the more one believes this whole concept is a display of too many attorneys not being trustworthy.

Recently more Super Lawyer folly was exposed with a Connecticut Judiciary Grevience Committee inquiry relating to Super Lawyers:
It was stated 14,769 notices were sent to resident attorneys for "super" nominations, resulting in a candidate pool of 1,098 lawyers.

Now here's the tricky part, only 331 ballots were returned (of the 14,769 mailed). On the basis of 331 ballots it seems clear 732 attorneys received Super Lawyer 'honors'. Get that--732 "supers" from 331 ballots. If my reasoning is correct that's more that two "supers" for every vote cast. Further, any nominee had a greater than 66% chance of being a "super".

Posted by: charles f. buntack | Jun 7, 2009 3:40:16 PM

Plain Speak Ads v Super Lawyer
Plaintiff testifying:
.....Now comes clear ditty ads which provides no comfort to the enemy, Your Honor:
Exhibit 1.
Pepsi-Cola hits the spot,
Twelve fluid ounces thats a lot,
Twice as much for a nickel too,
(Toot-Toot) Pepsi Cola is the drink,
for Youuuuuuu

Exhibit 2.
Singing in the bathtub, singing for joy,
Living the life of Lifebuoy,
Can't help singing, 'cause I know
Lifebuoy really stops---
Beeeeee Oooooooo

Now that's plain and clear, not using others to work around ethics rules, Your Honor.

Defense,opening argument:
Your Honor, nowhere in any of my ads do I ever say, "I am a Super Lawyer", that would be unethical. It is Super Lawyer Magazine which placed me in the 95th percentile when I am compared with my esteemed colleagues. I purchase these ads only to give credit to those who think so highly of me--Motion to Dismiss, Your Honor.
Court: On what grounds? Answer: Misdirected Complaint, Your Honor.
Court: Motion Denied! The case shall continue as this may be a matter of foreign intelligence. Next Witness.

Posted by: charles f. buntack | Jun 13, 2009 3:39:17 PM

Plain Speak Ads v Super Lawyer

Super Lawyer Counsel: ..and now comes Super Lawyer disputing the veracity of the Pepsi Cola and Lifebuoy ads, Your Honor.

Your Honor, these silly ditty ads have no disclaimers, just unfounded assertions. No evidence is offered by Pepsi of its product being able "to hit the spot" or that Lifebouy has any special characteristics to stop B-O , Your Honor.

Witness, a Super Lawyer advertising executive:
Your Honor, Super Lawyer ads have full disclosures, it's all there in the bottom of the ad. It even tells one of the disclosures being linked to all other ads relating to Super Lawyer.--

The following paraphrased disclosures are most salient, Your Honor:
1. No Super Lawyer title or moniker is purveyed( fancy certificates are conveyed).
2. The Magazine makes no claim relating to the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy relating to Super Lawyer advertising.
3.The lawyer utilizing the Super Lawyer moniker may or may not be more qualified than other members of the Bar.
4. A magazine or TV ad may not be the best means to secure a lawyer. Thank you, Your Honor.

Court: Well said. Does Plain speak Ads refute any of this salient testimony?

Plain Speak Ads: No refutation, Your Honor. The Plaintiff shall stipulate all Super Lawyer disclaimers are thorough, complete, and well thought out,Your Honor.

Super Lawyer General Counsel: MOTION TO DISMISS! Your Honor.

Court: On what grounds?

General Counsel: FIRST AMENDMENT, Brown v AVVO, US Ninth Circuit, Your Honor.

Court: Motion Granted. Case dismissed. The Court defers to the opinion of the Chief Judge in the Brown v AVVO instance. Court adjourned.

Posted by: charles f. buntack | Apr 1, 2010 9:17:48 AM

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