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Controversy Continues Over N.Y. Ad Rules

New York's controversial new lawyer-advertising rules took effect yesterday, but a lawsuit filed in federal court by the advocacy organization Public Citizen aimed to strike them down as unconstitutional. In a complaint filed yesterday, Public Citizen, along with New York law firm Alexander & Catalano, contends that the new rules go further than those of any other state in restricting free speech.

Meanwhile, legal bloggers Carolyn Elefant, Eric Turkewitz and Nicole L. Black note the failure of larger New York firms to comply with the requirement of the new rules that they label their Web pages as "attorney advertising." After Turkewitz first published his list of noncomplying sites yesterday, some firms made the required changes, he notes today. As for the firms that fail to comply, how will New York's judiciary respond? Turkewitz predicts it will be enforced in much the same way as jaywalking:

What the New York judiciary will do about this is any one's guess. Mine is that they send out a spate of warning letters demanding compliance under threat of reprimand. If they fail to enforce, then the new rules become like jaywalking ... an unenforced law. And that would only hurt the credibility of the courts, which means that enforcement must come.

Elefant, based in Washington, D.C., but a member of the New York Bar, says she has no intention of labeling her Web site as advertising. She explains:

I believe that it cheapens my message.  I invest significant resources in creating information at my website and I do so partly for marketing, but partly because I believe in the importance of educating potential clients, whether they hire me or not (and of course, I don't want to have to retain copies of every iteration of my site).

Even as the new rules take effect, many questions remain, as Nicole Black illustrates in this post. Many lawyers hope the federal court will provide some answers.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on February 2, 2007 at 06:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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