There has been much ink (actually we all know that computer keys don’t use ink, but I digress) about the proposed ethics rule changes in New York (on lawyer communications, including blogs), and New Jersey (prohibiting lawyers from touting their “selection” as Super Lawyers or Best Lawyers in America). I’ve commented on New Jersey’s opinion 39 myself (here, here and here).
Thanks to Dennis Kennedy at Between Lawyers for referring to a post commenting on the proposed New York rules by Bruce Marcus on The Marcus Perspective blog. Bruce is a pioneer legal marketing consultant; and Dennis is quite correct in referring to him as “one of the most respected” people in the field. I have known Bruce for many, many years, and he is truly one of the best. So, when he speaks, lawyers (especially those involved in drafting ethics rules) should listen. The title of his post “Rushing Back to the Past – The Proposed NYS Bar’s Rules on Advertising In A Time Warp” says it all.
Bruce is much too gentle. As I maintained in my comments on the New Jersey opinion, it’s just idiocy when the bars adopt rules that not only restrain lawyers unnecessarily, but the public’s ability to find the best legal counsel. I particularly agree when it comes to one of the newest forms of advertising (yet one of the most effective for assessing the knowledge and capabilities of an attorney) – the lawyer blog. As Bruce points out,
“…one lawyer’s blog…(may indicate) that the blogger’s view of law is more thoughtful than the firm currently being used, there’s more benefit than harm – to both the profession and the clients.”
The state bars have a legitimate role in assuring that lawyer advertising is not deceptive or otherwise harmful to the public, but they shouldn’t make the rules so restrictive as to appear to have been written with a quill pen and ink.