Lawyer Sues Fla. Bar Over Bad Ad
Five years ago, the Florida Bar reportedly OK’d attorney Bill Harrell’s use of the phrase “Don’t settle for less than you deserve” in his law firm advertising.
But now it has determined that the slogan Harrell has been using since 2002 to “brand” his well-known Jacksonville law firm conflicts with legal ethics rules intended to prevent false and misleading attorney advertising, reports the Times-Union.
Faced with a choice between developing an entirely new slogan for his television, yellow pages and Internet advertising or risking potential attorney discipline for violating the bar’s rules, Harrell decided to put up a fight. Public Citizen, a national nonprofit consumer rights group, filed suit in state court on Monday on his behalf over the bar’s attempts to restrict his use of the slogan, contending that the advertising prohibition is unfair and violates his First Amendment rights, the article says.
“Before people should be able to tell you what you can and cannot say, there should be a reason for it and the reason should be clear,” Harrell tells the newspaper. “None of that has occurred here.”
Elizabeth Tarbert, who serves as ethics counsel for the bar, declines to comment specifically on the suit, but says the rule under which the Harrell firm’s slogan was disapproved prevents lawyers from making what the newspaper describes as “subjective statements that can’t be factually substantiated.” Says Tarbert: “The example I like to give is that you can’t say that you offer high-quality legal services or that you’re great or the best lawyer.”