Bates v. Arizona In Bates - A complaint was made against attorney about newspaper advertising. "legal services at very reasonable fees.“ Attorney listed fees for certain services; including uncontested divorces, adoptions, simple bankruptcies, name changes. Arizona State Bar Rules Committee-rule violated §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act - monopolize any part of the trade or commerce – thus limiting competition (impinge 1 st Amend. Rights).
Legal Issue: Whether lawyers may constitutionally advertise the prices at which certain routine services will be performed. Court went on to say: Advertising legal services is not inherently misleading. “It would be peculiar to deny the consumer at least some of the relevant information needed for an informed decision on the ground that the information was not complete.” Court found that appellants advertisement claim that appellants offer services at "very reasonable" prices is not misleading.
In 1977 the U.S. Supreme Court determined that attorneys have a right to advertise their services. For several years after the Supreme Court’s decision in the Bates case, lawyers remained under considerable peer pressure not to advertise. Slowly some of them began using the media, especially television, to promote their services, particularly in handling damage suits. Read more at Suite101: Attorney Advertising Rules: Debate Continues Despite Ruling in Bates-vs-The State Bar of Arizona http://advertising.suite101.com/article.cfm/attorney_advertising_rules#ix zz0hcXxSCZLAttorney Advertising Rules: Debate Continues Despite Ruling in Bates-vs-The State Bar of Arizona http://advertising.suite101.com/article.cfm/attorney_advertising_rules#ix zz0hcXxSCZL
Since the Bates case attorneys use advertising to promote class action suits, to solicit personal injury cases, to offer assistance to Social Security applicants and to malpractice victims. The advertising has intensified criticism and political pressure against trial lawyers, the most active advertisers. http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/clientdevelopment/adrules/ Link from ABA on state rules.
State Bar of California has adopted "New and Amended Attorney Advertising Standards Pursuant to California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400(E). Other states are considering the revision of rules with the way attorneys can advertise on blogs, Youtube, social networking and other media. “Communications" mean any kind of written message, including, but not limited to, stationery, business cards, advertisements and unsolicited correspondence. These rules cover "solicitation" which is defined as "any communication concerning availability for professional employment, whether in person or by telephone.“
Consumer lawyers say that companies, trapped between the Internet undermining traditional ad venues and the bad economy undercutting sales, are resorting to questionable advertising practices Interesting link to read over: http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/node/5375http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/node/5375 Great links on ethics/advertising
Attorney solicitations are more heavily regulated than attorney advertising. Under the Model Rules, all lawyer communication, not just advertising, must not be false or misleading. Paralegals (freelance paralegals) may not advertise for attorneys. Lawyer advertising is protected commercial speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Most jurisdictions allow paralegals/legal assistants to be listed on firm letterhead or to have their own business cards- must state their status. Some states have laws or ethical rules requiring that attorneys wait a certain period of time before contacting victims of mass disasters. Attorneys are able to retrieve public information such as foreclosure to contact foreclosure victims.
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