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N.Y. Advertising Rules Are Out: Let the Ranting Begin!

Nicole Black at Sui Generis reports that the New York Bar's new advertising rules are out (earlier Blogwatch posts here), while Allison Shields of Legal Ease offers a fairly detailed summary of the new regulations. As Allison describes, the rules describe advertising as:

any public or private communication made by or on behalf of a lawyer or law firm about that lawyer or law firm's services, the primary purpose of which is for the retention of the lawyer or law firm. It does not include communications to existing clients or other lawyers.

As Shields notes, the proposed definition is ambiguous, because it's difficult to define whether a communication (like a blog) is made by a lawyer for the "primary purpose" of getting retained by clients. And once blogs or other communications fall within the definition of advertising, they must be labeled as such. Likewise, the rules crack down on lawyers' ability to solicit clients on the Internet -- even where solicitation might take the form of bringing an article of interest to a potential client's attention and asking the prospect to call for a free consultation. 

Larry Bodine lambastes the new rules here, and rightly so. Bodine  writes:

The revised New York attorney advertising rules are out, and they're just awful. Could the courts come up with anything more anti-marketing and more prehistoric?

Among other things, Bodine takes issue with New York's ban on the use of fictionalized depictions of an event in an ad, the prohibition of pop-up or pop-under ads other than on the firm's Web site, and the requiring of firms to preserve changes to Web sites at least every 90 days. Bodine finds that the rules are an enormous waste of time and wonders whether the Bar isn't better off spending its time penalizing attorneys who steal from trust accounts than those who post pop-up ads (which users can disable anyway!).

As a marketer, Bodine deserves credit for showing the ridiculousness of the new rules. Many marketers might accept the rules blindly and start billing clients to advise them on how they can  change their advertising to comply with the new rules. Kudos to Bodine for standing on principle rather than sucking up for profit.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on January 8, 2007 at 07:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (6)

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