Lawyers have the best ads. Seriously. And I’m not even talking about the William Shatner ads (although Captain Kirk’s connections to the legal profession are impressive). On a quiet, snowy Friday evening (such as this one), it is a ton of fun to cruise YouTube looking for excellent examples of legal advertising (do I know how to party or what?). And so I decided to share some of my favorites with you, with a brief discussion of a Supreme Court case and a few model rules thrown in to make it look like I’m actually working here.
Before I discuss the Supreme Court’s view on legal advertising, let me share with you one creative lawyer’s ad:
Yep, that’s a real ad for a real attorney. Possibly one of the most famous legal ads around. And in 1977 the Supreme Court upheld his right to make it. In Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, the Supreme Court held that lawyer advertising was entitled to protection under the First Amendment as commercial speech. Prior to that (at least in the 20th century), it was generally believed that lawyers shouldn’t advertise, although there was some advertising in the 1800s.
Now let’s take a break for a singing commercial…
Most, if not all, states have rules governing these types of communications regarding lawyers’ services. The ABA has provided model rules on these issues that have been used by some states.
The ABA’s Rule 7.1 (Communications concerning a lawyer’s services) says that: 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.
And now here’s a lawyer who’s giving you the blunt truth on family law:
ABA Rule 7.2 says that advertising, so long as it complies with the other rules, is okay through written, recorded, or electronic communication, including public media.
So, thanks to the Supreme Court and the state rules, these lawyers can help make the rest of us look as cool on the outside as we feel on the inside!