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.