First Amendment

N.Y. Lawyer Ad Rules Struck Down

Updated: A federal judge has ruled that many of New York’s lawyer advertising restrictions violate the First Amendment.

Judge Frederick Scullin of Syracuse ruled the state had not shown the rules advanced its interest in protecting the public, the New York Law Journal reports. Scullin struck down bans on:

–Nicknames that suggest an ability to obtain results.

–Portrayal of lawyers exhibiting characteristics clearly unrelated to legal competence.

–Client testimonials about a matter that is still pending.

–Portrayals of judges.

–Portrayals of fictitious law firms.

–Internet pop-up ads.

Plaintiff James Alexander challenged the rules, with help from the Public Citizen advocacy group. He is managing partner of plaintiffs law firm Alexander & Catalano, with offices in Syracuse and Rochester.

The firm’s commercials had often contained jingles and special effects, such as wisps of smoke and blue electrical currents surrounding the firm’s name. They also had comical scenes, showing lawyers running at breakneck speeds to help clients or counseling space aliens.

When the rules took effect in February, the firm stopped using the word “heavy hitters” to describe its lawyers and eliminated the comical depictions.

The ruling did not address whether law firm Web sites and some attorney e-mail had to be labeled as advertising, the New York Times reports.

How Appealing found a copy of the opinion (PDF), posted on the blog f/k/a ….

Originally posted 07-24-2007 5:30 AM.

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