Are Blog Posts Legal Advertising?

If the proposal created by the state’s Administrative Board of Courts in New York state passes, then indeed law firm blog posts would fall under that category. The provision relating to blogs is part of a proposed general rewrite of the rules on lawyer advertising contained in the New York Lawyer’s Code of Professional Responsibility. And the state code of professional responsibility extends court jurisdiction to out-of-state legal advertising that appears in New York. So the implications are causing reverberations throughout the blogosphere.

According to the ABA Journal eReport of 9/29/06, one proposed change would require lawyers to file copies of computer-accessed communications with the attorney disciplinary committee in the appropriate judicial department of the state. The revision also would require lawyers to retain copies of all written advertising, including Web sites and communications that may be accessed by computer, for at least one year.

Comments in legal blogs around the world describe this proposed new regulation in varying ways:
 suppression of freedom of speech
 a misguided attempt to uplift the image of the legal community
 a ploy by large firms to restrict smaller firms from leveling the playing field for strategic marketing initiatives
 yet another hand-tying Rule lawyers put on lawyers without need, which only serve to make them look stupid to the community-at-large

Is it obvious that few if any comments are positive? I don’t dismiss the proposal out of hand, as it is intended to apply to all forms of electronic communications, some of which need greater oversight, in my opinion. I personally question adding more areas of oversight, however, when those which already exist are so inadequately enforced.

When I look at the TV commercials, the billboards, listen to the radio commercials, and read the materials on law firm web site home pages, I am just appalled at the lack of compliance with the rules that already exist. Will adding more rules, which must wind themselves through the courts to achieve clarity and clout, add to the elevation of the perception of the legal profession, or only further dilute enforcement efforts? I think we all know the answer to that question.

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