Proposed NY advertising rules bring out the opposition

“The legal blogs are boiling:

  • ‘We go around passing rules that make us look like idiots.’
  • ‘We continue to handicap (lawyers) and bring everyone into the trenches.’
  • ‘The small firm can’t afford [this].'”

Can you imagine requiring lawyers to submit their blog posts to the State Bar before “going public” with their comments? A rule of thumb for successful blogs is that content is “king.” In other words, blogs with content that enables the reader to learn more about the subject of the blog focus will receive more attention and become a site of renewed readership.

Is substantive content “advertising?” Seems it might be under currently proposed rules changes. And, assuming blogging is “advertising,” what happened to the standard of truth in “advertising” as the sole criterium for judging a lawyer’s words? If blogging is “advertising,” then isn’t anything a lawyer says anywhere, other than in court, advertising? Besides, what’s wrong with advertising? Isn’t that how the public learns about the legal system, what lawyers do, and what their rights and responsibilities in a democratic society are?

“Protection of the public” is a rubric used too often to hide policies of restriction. (Reminds me of the many instances in history where one side or the other went to war “in the name of God,” choosing the hide the real economic or other rationale for the conflict.)

Bar associations, once again, seem to be the adversary of the very members whose interests they are supposed to be advancing. No wonder that many lawyers feel disrespect and contempt for the Bars’ governing bodies.  No wonder there are those who want to strip the mandatory organized Bar of all its powers (and the high dues revenue they receive) except that of licensing. Let other entities exist that will truly aid lawyers in the improvement of their practices and the education of lawyers needed to enhance their client relations, their client effectiveness, and, yes, their profitability so that they will not be tempted to invade client trust accounts to pay their rent.


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