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Funny Lawyer Ads No Joke in N.Y.

Posted Dec 4, 2007 6:50 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Law firm ads that show attorneys towering over skyscrapers and offering legal advice to space aliens obviously aren't meant to be taken seriously.

But New York's attorney general isn't finding them at all amusing, reports Portfolio magazine on its website. In a brief filed yesterday in response to a July decision by a federal judge invalidating new state restrictions on law firm advertising, attorney general Andrew Cuomo contends that the First Amendment protects only "truthful, factual, nonmisleading information relevant to the attorney's services," the article notes.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court held in 1977 that law firm advertising is permitted under the First Amendment, that ruling apparently isn't intended to extend to lawyers leaping tall buildings at a single bound, according to Cuomo. "It has never held that puffery, dramatizations, unverifiable statements of opinion, slogans, or promises, absurd portrayals, extreme use of humor, appeals to emotions, fears or prejudices, special effects, nicknames or other techniques in attorney advertising unrelated to rational decisions about selection of counsel are protected commercial speech."

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