Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Pitching the practice - Missouri updating rules on lawyer advertising

Kansas City Star | 02/01/2005 | Pitching the practice

This article addresses some of the issues with misleading advertising by some attorneys. I believe that it's good for the industry to enforce rules of professionalism. Ultimately, protecting consumers from fraud is good.

In brief, the Missouri State Bar has proposed some guidance.

The proposed rules don't so much overhaul the current rules as seek to modify or clarify them. But there are some new wrinkles. For example, the rules would prohibit lawyers from:

• Proclaiming results obtained for clients without also stating that past results don't guarantee future results.

• Advertising for cases in which they don't have experience or competence.

• Identifying practice areas that they routinely refer to other lawyers without conspicuously stating as much.

• Airing ads containing “any simulated portrayal of an attorney, client, victim, scene or event” without conspicuously identifying that it's a simulation, and

• Providing an office address for an office staffed only part time or by appointment only without conspicuously identifying that fact.

“Our goal was one, to protect the public and two, make lawyers accountable for their advertisements without chilling the right to get this information out to the public,” said St. Louis lawyer Mark Levison, who headed the committee.

Levison, a lawyer with Lathrop & Gage, said the biggest change was to require more stringent disclaimers on direct advertising — that is, solicitations by letter. For example, the proposed rules bar letters that resemble legal pleadings and prohibit anything on the outside of an envelope suggesting the nature of the recipient's legal problem.


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