. Legal ethics

Hopefully this will be the first step in streamlining the regulation of lawyer advertising

I commend to your reading a very well done, thorough, and I think (hope) persuasive report from the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers regarding the subject of lawyer advertising.  Although none of us were on the Lawyer Advertising Committee that put this together, several of us on the committee are members of APRL.   You can download a copy of it here.

The report manages to confirm many things many lawyers have long believed about the nature of who complains about lawyer ads, highlights the impossibility/impracticability of trying to comply with varying state regs in the communications landscape in 2015, and calls for revision of the ABA Model Rules toward essentially just the existence of an RPC 7.1 to address lawyer advertisements online and in the real world to focus regulatory restrictions and enforcement upon actually false and deceptive advertisements.  It also calls for some means of primary regulation for advertising violations that would not also constitute a violation of RPC 8.4(c) other than through efforts to impose discipline.

I have long believed, and stated on a number of occasions at seminars and the like, that if I were put in charge as a benevolent dictator, the only ethics rule that would exist to address public advertising by lawyers would be RPC 7.1: “A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services.  A communication is false or misleading if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.”

Thankfully, with this report, a much more influential group of lawyers has said much the same thing.  I have been a member of APRL for more than a decade, but this may be the moment I am most proud to be able to say I am a member of this organization.

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