Legal Ethics

SC Lawyer Rapped for Overselling His Small Firm in Brochure, Phone Book and Online Ads

A South Carolina attorney has been publicly reprimanded by the state supreme court for overselling his small firm’s experience and expertise by exaggerating and making statements that could not be factually verified.

For example, Michael Hensley Wells said on his firm’s website and in a brochure that he’d “worked in the legal environment for over 20 years.” In fact, however, he had practiced only seven years or so, although he had additional experience clerking for a law firm during his college and law school years, the court says in his reprimand (PDF).

Similarly, a claim, in Spanish, that “we speak Spanish” at his Coastal Law firm wasn’t accurate at a time when no one in the office did, in fact, speak Spanish, the court says.

Wells admitted his mistakes, which also included overstating the facts in telephone book advertising claims, and expressed remorse. He was fined $1,000 and ordered to take a legal ethics course.

For more details about what the legal disciplinary authorities found objectionable in his advertising, read the full reprimand (PDF).

Hat tip: Legal Profession Blog.

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