A Florida ethics rule interpreted by the state bar to prohibit lawyers from citing results from their past cases in radio and television commercials and indoor or outdoor display ads violates the First Amendment, according to a U.S. district court ruling that legal experts characterize as significant.
The case reflects the Florida Bar’s long-standing ambivalence toward lawyer advertising, which the U.S. Supreme Court held in its 1977 ruling in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona to be commercial speech entitled to protection under the First Amendment. Since then, Florida has maintained one of the strictest regimes for regulating lawyer advertising of any state in the country. In recent years, for instance, Florida was the only state with an outright prohibition against lawyers including information about past results in their advertising. Other states generally followed the lead of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which impose no blanket restrictions on references to past results, although six states (Missouri, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Texas and Virginia) require references to past results to be accompanied by a disclaimer.
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POSTED MAR 01, 2015 03:20 AM CST
BY DAVID L. HUDSON JR.