Letters from Our Readers

Letters From Our Readers: Cover practice, not activism

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Cover practice, not activism

I agree with Matthew Kremer from San Diego that there are far too many social justice articles in the ABA Journal (Letters from Our Readers, April-May, page 8), and I’m not some Trump-supporting, right-wing conservative. I’m fine with a couple of articles that have some profound relevance to most attorneys, but these articles are not beneficial or relevant to my practice. My clients are diverse: white, people of color, LGBTQ, disabled, very elderly–or any combination of these. However, their economic backgrounds are not so diverse.

They are typically of modest income–working folks, most without a college degree, or senior citizens who rely on their Social Security and a modest pension to get by and don’t have time to be an “activist.”

The working people punch a clock from 8 to 5, go home and take care of their families. These are people who have no voice because they simply don’t have time or the wherewithal to get involved in organizations representing their interests. They often need a lawyer because they don’t know how to deal with a person who plays the race card (even if my client is also of color) or the disability card and knows how to be vocal to get sympathy, etc., in order to gain financial advantage. But I don’t think you come in contact much with mainstream middle- to lower-middle-income people. I’m much more interested in articles that will help me become a more proficient lawyer.

Doubtful that I’ll be renewing with the ABA next year.

Bonnie Bates
Santa Rosa, California

Regulating advertising

The article “Cure or Con?” February-March, page 42, calls for more regulatory scrutiny of individuals or companies making questionable or even fraudulent health-related claims for a wide range of products. Health-related advertising that misleads consumers can cause significant harm and erode consumers’ trust in advertising. The article, however, overlooks the important role of the advertising industry’s self-regulation process in protecting consumers. For almost 50 years, the Better Business Bureau’s National Programs’ National Advertising Division has published thousands of decisions requiring prompt discontinuance of misleading or unsupported claims, ensuring that advertising is truthful and accurate, including many pertaining to health-related claims. The consumer advocacy groups referenced in the article, such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest or Truth in Advertising, provide important information to consumers when they expose deceptive advertisements to regulators, such as the Federal Trade Commission. Protecting consumers is the goal of NAD review; it guides businesses to support their advertising claims with reliable evidence or discontinue any unsubstantiated claims.

Providing a transparent forum for review of misleading advertising claims, either challenged by competitors or opened on NAD’s initiative, NAD holds advertising claims to standards set not only by NAD’s own precedent but by regulatory authorities such as the FTC and the Food and Drug Administration. NAD decisions are precedent-based and publicly reported. The process has the support of the FTC and is respected by industry. Compliance with NAD’s decisions is north of 90%. NAD has reviewed hundreds of health claims. Much guidance on the substantiation required to support health-related advertising claims arose from NAD’s collaboration with the Council for Responsible Nutrition, which funded monitoring of advertising in the dietary supplement industry.

As long as there are health issues that consumers struggle with, there will be others trying to sell them simple, too-good-to-be-true solutions. A multifaceted approach consisting of regulatory enforcement, self-regulatory review and attention from industry watchdogs provides the best protection for consumers to assist them in parsing fact from fiction.

Laura Brett
BBB National Programs Inc.

Letters to the Editor

You may submit a letter by email to [email protected] or via mail: Attn: Letters, ABA Journal, 321 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL 60654. Letters must concern articles published in the Journal. They may be edited for clarity or space. Be sure to include your name, city and state, and email address.

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