From Avvo General Counsel and VP, Josh King:
Our suggested advertising rules would look like this:
Rule 7.1: A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services. Rule 7.2: A lawyer shall not by in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact solicit professional employment when a significant motive for the lawyer’s doing so is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain, unless the person contacted: (1) is a lawyer; or (2) has a family, close personal, or prior professional relationship with the lawyer.
Everything else in the attorney advertising rules – prohibitions on specific forms of advertising, hard-and-fast disclaimer requirements, vague provisions about “lawyer referral services” and the like – is the crusty accretion of over-regulation.
Josh’s post is worth reading, and I’m convinced he’s right.
While most lawyer marketing is pretty awful, consumers are better off if they can find a lawyer when they need one. Marketing facilitates that, even if it isn’t always pretty. Our only concern ought to be whether legal marketing is misleading. And the in-person solicitation ban just makes sense, because many lawyers would become hard-sell pests without it.
I’d rather see ethics boards aggressively police false and misleading marketing than waste time cracking down on lawyers who forget to include ATTORNEY ADVERTISING disclaimers on their Twitter profiles.