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  • Article: Federal Court Throws Out Florida's Advertising Rules on Use of Past Results. By Larry Bodine

    Federal Court Throws Out Florida's Advertising Rules on Use of Past Results.


    Court Throws Out Florida’s Lawyer Advertising Rules on Use of Past ResultsAs reported on Law Practice Advisor:

    Blasting the Florida Bar, a federal judge threw out state ethics rules that ban the use of past results in lawyer advertising in indoor and outdoor display, television and radio media. The court held that the rules were unconstitutional and in violation of the First Amendment.

    The landmark ruling on December 12, 2014, is a complete rejection of the Florida Bar’s obstinate efforts to suffocate lawyer advertising in a state with 68,500 attorneys. The court granted the plaintiff law firm’s motion for summary judgment, and went on to enjoin the Bar from enforcing Rules 4-7.13 and 4-7.14, which said use of past results is misleading.

    The plaintiffs developed, at great expense, an advertising campaign featuring information regarding past recoveries for clients. The ads include a TV segment animated with a cartoon car accident, a courthouse and dollar signs drawn on a dry-erase board. With an attorney voice over, it depicts the words:

    Gross proceeds. Results in individual cases are based on the unique facts of each. 

    Ruling totally in favor of the law firm, the court ruled there is First Amendment protection for lawyer advertising as commercial speech. It noted that the ethics rules in 44 states impose no blanket restrictions on references to past results.

    It noted that the US Supreme Court’s decisions involving commercial speech have been grounded in the faith that the free flow of commercial information is valuable.

    For more, read Court Throws Out Florida’s Lawyer Advertising Rules on Use of Past Results.

    This post originally appeared on Law Marketing Blog. Reprinted with permission

    About The Author

    Larry Bodine Larry Bodine has advised hundreds of law firms on marketing and business development over the last 14 years. He selectively accepts assignments from law firms that sincerely want to grow their practices. You can read his marketing advice on the LawMarketing Blog. He is the Director of Publications of The National Trial Lawyers and Publisher of The Trial Lawyer Magazine. Founded in 2007, The National Trial Lawyers is a leading destination for legal news for consumers. Previously, Larry was the Editor in Chief of Lawyers.com, the top online destination for finding and choosing a lawyer.

    The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Hell/Good-Bye's Avatar
      Hell/Good-Bye -
      I've been to Las Vegas, NV, where lawyers advertise for bankruptcy, personal injury, divorce, and traffic moving violation clients on billboards and God knows where else. Not being part of their target audience, I didn't see much more. Not only do the billboards make the local lawyers look like tawdry crooks who probably use their own specialties to excess in their personal lives, these ads make the entire city look like something deserving a biblical kind of house cleaning. People say bad money drives out good money when talking about the stock market -- I just hope that bad lawyers don't drive out good lawyers and use that kind of advertising as the eviction notice. That said, I used to practice family law as well as immigration law and wonder if I claimed that my great lawyering had driven a certain number of former opposing parties and/or their attorneys to suicide would be a shrewd commercial move these days. Or bragging about how my own former clients had gotten away with parental kidnapping or concealing assets. In the immigration context, I could brag about how my EWI human traffickers and drug dealers have become US citizens now ... just 'cause I'm so clever. You'll never make as much money advertising how much integrity and compassion you have or how you value candor to the tribunal. And then you won't be able to pay back your student loans!!! I am SO glad I'm retired.
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