First Amendment

Judge Strikes Down La. Restrictions on Lawyer Internet Ads

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A federal judge has upheld most of the new restrictions on advertising by Louisiana lawyers, but struck down two rules regulating Internet advertising.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman said Louisana’s Internet restrictions don’t account for differences between ads online and those in traditional media such as television, the Associated Press reports. “The Internet presents unique issues related to advertising, which the state simply failed to consider in formulating this rule,” Feldman wrote in his opinion. As a result, the Internet ad restrictions violate the First Amendment, he ruled.

Feldman upheld most other restrictions, saying the state can regulate ads that promise results, portray a judge or jury, or use client testimonials, according to AP.

The Wolfe Law Group had challenged the Internet rules, claiming they would restrict the firm’s right to comment on Twitter, Facebook, online bulletin boards and blogs. The firm also argued the rules would subject each of the firm’s online posts to a cost-prohibitive evaluation and $175 fee.

The law firm had provided an example: It spent $160 on 12 different Google pay-per-click ads over a three-month period; the cost of the ad review would have been about $2,100.

Name partner Scott Wolfe Jr. said in a press release that Feldman’s ruling is important to lawyers who advertise online. “The court not only noted that states must have a reason to regulate Internet speech, but it also recognized that the Internet media is different from broadcast media, and is entitled to unique protection,” he said.

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