Florida Not A Fan Of The Internet; Potentially Rules Out Lawyer Blogs

from the nice-work dept

You may recall recently that the Florida Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee issued an opinion saying that judges shouldn't use Facebook to connect with any lawyers. This made little sense since judges can, in fact, be friendly with lawyers in real life. There must be something in the water down there, as new rules from the Florida Bar are so broad that they could potentially ban lawyer blogs because of an attempt to more carefully limit how lawyers "advertise" (found via Michael Scott):
The substantive rules provide, among other things, that an attorney website can't "describe or characterize the quality of legal services being offered." Rule 4-7.2(c)(2) Thus, I can't tell you in this post that I'm committed to using my legal skills to provide positive results for my clients (even though this is true). And I can't give you information regarding my past results, so I probably shouldn't tell you the true information that I lost a case I argued in a Florida court as cooperating counsel for the ACLU in a "John Doe" case. Rule 4-7.2(c)(1)(F). I also can't include testimonials; therefore, I request any former students or clients not to post comments saying what a wonderful lawyer and/or professor I am. Dramatizations and many other creative marketing devices are also verboten. Of course, my personal concerns about the new bar rules are trivial when set beside those of all the Florida law firms who must now spend vast sums of money to revamp their websites to try to comply with the new rules, not to mention the concerns of non-Florida firms that hire Florida attorneys.
That same blog post, by Lyrissa Lidsky, reasonably points out that the First Amendment should protect legal advertising as long as it's not inherently misleading. Of course, this issue has come up in the past as well. Five years ago, we wrote about concerns that laws in Kentucky required "filing fees" for lawyers to pay for "each advertisement" that would make legal blogging in the state prohibitively expensive.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Pickle Monger (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 7:24am

    Lawyers, eh?

    Lawyers screwing other lawyers... Insert your joke here...

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:22am

    They're just lawyers. Not like there isn't enough bullshit on the internet.

     

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  3.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:30am

    Not so sure...

    "The substantive rules provide, among other things, that an attorney website can't "describe or characterize the quality of legal services being offered." Rule 4-7.2(c)(2) Thus, I can't tell you in this post that I'm committed to using my legal skills to provide positive results for my clients (even though this is true)."

    IANAL, but based on the language in his sentence, it seems to me that he COULD say that, because he'd be speaking about the quality of his committment more than the quality of his legal services. He isn't saying his legal services are always outstanding, just that he is committed to his services creating positive results. What lawyer isn't? Doesn't every lawyer want to win his clients case?

     

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  4.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:36am

    Re: Not so sure...

    How to summon a lawyer:
    Chant "Billable Hours" until one shows...

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:36am

    Iowa is the same way - does not allow any advertiing by lawyers. My sister is a lawyer in Iowa and for some time also in Illinois. She couldn't advertise in Illinois - where it was legal - because it would be a violation of Iowa law.

     

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  6.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:44am

    Re: Re: Not so sure...

    "How to summon a lawyer:
    Chant "Billable Hours" until one shows..."

    I thought you also had to do the chanting in front of the bathroom mirror with all the lights off, then they show up and kill you. I'm pretty sure that's what you need to do to summon a lawyer.

    ....well, either that or change your name to OJ....

     

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  7.  
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    a-dub (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:46am

    "I request any former students or clients not to post comments saying what a wonderful lawyer and/or professor I am."

    The term "wonderful lawyer" may be an oxymoron. But seriously, it's one thing to restrict a lawyer from advertising, but for a client to not be able to post information about a lawyer is just stupid. So is this just restricting positive posts only?

     

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  8.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Not so sure...

    I'm not 100% clear on the ritual--I'm more interested in what one has to do in order to completely avoid lawyers altogether.

     

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  9.  
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    interval, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:49am

    Its just more old-school thinkism. When the internet started getting popular everyone thought how marvelous it was. Then after a few years reality set in and some people (record labels, book publishers, etc) discovered that consumers didn't really need them anymore. Same thing here. People are finding creative new ways to stay connected and the old guard is freaking out. Let them fade away.

     

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  10.  
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    Richard Granat, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 8:49am

    Ethical Rules and Innovation

    I was going to use the tag line for my web site at http://www.mdfamilylawyer.com: "Law That You Can Afford," but I thought it would violate a rule in Maryland that is similar to the Florida rule, so I didn't user it.

    I am going to use it for another web site that is not a law firm web site, although I am not sure that discussing price as an attribute of a legal service is the same as a characterization of the quality of the legal service offered, as it just relates to pricing.

     

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  11.  
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    Comboman (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 9:23am

    First Amendment doesn't protect Advertising

    That same blog post, by Lyrissa Lidsky, reasonably points out that the First Amendment should protect legal advertising as long as it's not inherently misleading.

    How is that reasonable? By that line of reasoning, the First Amendment should protect cigarette advertising as long as it's not inherently misleading.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Burgos, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 9:39am

    Re: First Amendment doesn't protect Advertising

    By that line of reasoning, the First Amendment should protect cigarette advertising as long as it's not inherently misleading.

    How is this unreasonable?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 9:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not so sure...

    Ya cant

     

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  14.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 10:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not so sure...

    I think it has something to do with a combination of wooden stakes, silver bullets, garlic, and being deaf dumb and blind....which seems like it'd be an inconvenience....

     

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  15.  
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    TheStupidOne, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not so sure...

    easiest method to avoid them completely is to drink all the liquids under your sink. Of course they'll be all over your body afterwards, but your immortal soul (which is who you really are) will have moved on to a new place (no guarantees that there are no lawyers there though)

     

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  16.  
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    Florida Boy, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 10:40am

    Florida, eh?

     

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  17.  
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    Free Capitalist (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 10:48am

    Re: First Amendment doesn't protect Advertising

    By that line of reasoning, the First Amendment should protect cigarette advertising as long as it's not inherently misleading.


    Yes, and that line of reasoning would be correct for any entity not presently loathed by Rob Reiner.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 11:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not so sure...

    Chant "Flat fee"....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Chris Maresca (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 11:09am

    Preventing competition

    It seems to be that a large part of bar association rules are aimed at preventing true competition among lawyers, thus keeping fees high.

    The US is pretty interesting as there is one group of people who have basically completely gamed the political system - the lawyers. Because of this, it's likely that there will never be any attempts at breaking the bar association monopolies or creating laws that are more open and friendly to the public....

     

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  20.  
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    Lee Stevens, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 12:47pm

    Right wingers working slow and steady

    This is just the first shot on a whole agenda of stopping free speech on the internet.The crap they are pulling in Florida across the board wont stand up to the light of day and they know it.They have learned by football spread the defense apart then you can start running crap up the middle.
    Wonder why the rhetoric on the right has gotten so loud and obnoxious? If i keep the dialogue so far right of center and you buy and accept that then I am much more likely to get things done right up the middle crap, you never would have put up with before.

     

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  21.  
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    btr1701 (profile), Jan 15th, 2010 @ 7:25pm

    Re: First Amendment doesn't protect Advertising

    > First Amendment doesn't protect Advertising

    Yes, it does. Per the Supreme Court, commercial speech is entitled to 1st Amendment protection, just at a somewhat lesser level than non-commercial speech.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 7:47pm

    But I'm sure on mainstream television / commercials lawyers are allowed to advertise. I say this is just an attempt at class warfare again, just like the laws requiring "non journalists" to reveal their sources and the FCC disclosure rules that don't apply to certain celebrities, it's just an attempt to continue to give the evil top one percent a greater government granted unlevel playing field.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2010 @ 7:48pm

    Re:

    Ie: look at Larry Parker and many other big law firms. I see their commercials all the time and they say they're committed to their clients and whatnot. There are tons of lawyers advertising on T.V. and I'm sure it's allowed in the states where it's banned from the Internet. Again, class warfare is what it is. It's nothing less.

     

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  24.  
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    Florida No Fault Insurance, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 8:19pm

    I really don't understand what some law makers are trying to achieve here.

    Today lawyers, tomorrow insurance agents, next week teachers...

    Should we just not talk to each other, lock ourselves in our houses, watch TV ads for big brands, pay our taxes and just be silent consumers?

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 17th, 2010 @ 12:37pm

    Re:

    "Should we just not talk to each other, lock ourselves in our houses, watch TV ads for big brands, pay our taxes and just be silent consumers?"

    Absolutely, the government exists for the sole purpose of serving the top one percent at public expense and that's just about all they do. and you shouldn't do anything about it because the top one percent, those with no regard for morality, are better than the rest of us due to their complete disregard for morality.

     

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  26.  
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    Gainesville Dentist, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 9:11am

    Dont be so social

    In an age where one can seemingly be fired from a position for posting a picture on a social media site i think its prudent that public officials also not fraternize with questionable colleagues in such a manner.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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