Texas Law Bars Workers Comp Lawyers From Saying They're From Texas

from the workers-comp-lawyer-in-that-big-state-in-the-south dept

Ima Fish alerts us to yet another bizarre state law against free speech. John Gibson, a lawyer from Lubbock, Texas, who is an expert in workers’ compensation, is suing the state after it sent him a cease and desist letter for having a blog at TexasWorkersCompLaw.com. It turns out that Texas has a law on the books that forbids workers’ comp lawyers from saying they’re from Texas. Basically, the law forbids the use of “workers comp” and “Texas” together. Gibson, reasonably, finds the whole thing absolutely ridiculous:

Gibson says the words are not the intellectual property of the state, but are in the public domain, that no governmental interest is served by regulating them, and that forbidding their use is an impermissible restraint on free speech.

“For instance, under the terms of the regulation, a physician or medical clinic would be prohibited from advertising that they accept workers’ compensation patients in Texas. Any attorney who was board certified would also be strictly prohibited from using the phrase ‘Board Certified in Workers’ Compensation Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization,’ which is the accepted manner and form for disclosing Board Certification in Texas,” the complaint states. “These and other unnecessary restrictions on advertising are the result of § 419.002, without serving any governmental interest.”

We’ve seen similar — if somewhat less egregious — attempts by states to regulate lawyers’ speech, usually under rules designed to limit how lawyers can advertise their services. A few years ago, there were issues about the legality of some law blogs in NY and Kentucky, due to overly restrictive laws. But this particular rule concerning workers’ comp attorneys goes way beyond that. It really just seems to be designed as an attack on workers’ comp lawyers. It makes you wonder just who was behind getting it passed in the first place.

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Comments on “Texas Law Bars Workers Comp Lawyers From Saying They're From Texas”

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Dean Landolt (profile) says:

@Marcus: Heh, but I doubt the patent lawyers in Marshall need to advertise at all!

Which brings up an important point about free speech: IIRC the bar for protection is substantially lower for commercial speech. You’d think this lawyer would know that and not specifically pigeon-hole his complaint by referring to “unnecessary restrictions on advertisement”. This is of course more than just a restriction on commercial speech so this seems like a pretty bad move.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Lawyers and Physicians should not advertise.

What!?! You’ve got to be kidding me! If lawyers don’t advertise, then late might tee vee viewers would be deprived of commericals (in Denver Colorado, anyway) from “Bulldog” Bob Brown, an ex-judge specializing in personal injury claims, “The Strong Arm” of Franklin D. Azar (what a hoot!) and “The Tiger”, a lawyer whose proper name eludes me. Also, we late nite tee vee viewers would no longer be able to puzzle over what “personal aesthetic plastic surgery” means, given that the commercials in questoin are so specific about collagen, breast augmentation, and liopsuction.

Oh, and what about those half-hour “micro-graft” hair replacement info-mercials? Doubt I could watch late nite tee vee without them!

I’m sure other cities

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