September 8, 2008
Lulled Into Misconduct?
The Indiana Supreme Court issued a public reprimand of two attorneys, concluding that their advertisements for legal services constituted misconduct. The two partners had used two brochures to solicit clients: "When You Need a Lawyer" and "We Work for You." They had filed both of the publications with the Disciplinary Commission and were told that the commission did not give advisory opinions on targeted solicitation letters. The commission, as it sometimes does, did not provide the attorneys with any advice on the content of the brochures.
Here, the court found that the assertion of a "commitment to obtaining the best possible settlement, " descriptions of prior cases, and use of the phrase "Legal Advertisement" rather than "Advertising Material" violated Indiana attorney advertising rules. As to the lack of a warning or assistance from the commission: "reviewing every such letter, brochure, and other communication from every Indiana lawyer would be an impossible burden...[t] filing requirement also makes it possible for the Commission staff to spot at least some advertising materials that run afoul of the rules and to warn those lawyers of the need to correct the violations. We do not wish to discourage this service to the bar and to the public, even though it cannot extend to every lawyer communication filed with the Commission."
If these lawyers have the energy and ability to take this reprimand to the U.S. Supreme Court, I have little doubt that this sanction would not withstand constitutional scrutiny. (Mike Frisch)
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