Since it may have implications on the ethics rules relating to marketing in many other states, and having covered Opinion 39 of the NJ Committee on Attorney Advertising here in several posts, I’m happy to report that the New Jersey Supreme Court struck down the ban on attorneys advertising their selection and listing in “Super Lawyers” or “Best Lawyers in America” last Thursday.
Basically, the Court vacated and remanded the matter for reconsideration (more about that in a minute) finding that such advertising was not “inherently” misleading, and “an absolute prohibition is not permitted.” Supporting the Special Master’s finding that lawyer advertising is protected commercial speech, the Court endorsed the idea that a “requirement of a disclaimer or explanation” of the ad is preferable to an outright ban.
So, the matter goes back for some more work, and here comes the fun part. The Court referred the matter to (1) the Advisory Committee on Attorney Advertising, (2) the Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics, and (3) the Professional Responsibility Rules Committee “for their concurrent consideration of a redrafted Rule…”; and they may seek “such other sources and information the Committees, acting jointly, may deem necessary and proper.”
WOW! That’s going to be a lot of fun, don’t you think? I see one terrific camel in the making myself. As the maxim goes, “A camel is a horse designed by committee.” Can you just imagine what three committees are likely to come up with. I can’t wait.
In the meantime sanity has returned to New Jersey, albeit if only temporarily, on this issue.
Happy Holidays everyone!! Back in January.