The Big Easy Gets Tough On Lawyer Ads

One of our favorite lawyers, James Garner of New Orleans’ Sher Garner, http://www.shergarner.com/Bio/JamesGarner.asp and http://www.lawdragon.com/index.php/newdragon/lawyer_profile/137601 is waging a battle against new restrictions on lawyers’ advertisements adopted by the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board.  Today, Garner asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman to block the enforcement of the rules, arguing that “The road to violating the First Amendment was paved with good intentions.”

The disciplinary board claims the rules adopted by the Louisiana Supreme Court are intended to curb deceptive ads, while lawyers claim they impose unconstitutional restrictions on freedom of expression. http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2009/07/29/ap6716838.html

Garner represents plaintiff lawyer Morris Bart, who has spent millions on TV ads featuring his trademark “one call, that’s all.” http://www.morrisbart.com/staff.cfm Other plaintiffs include Scott Wolfe http://www.wolfelaw.com/team/scott/ and William Gee III http://www.williamgee.com/ as well as Public Citizen Inc., a national consumer advocacy group.

Wolfe advertises exclusively on the Internet. He said the rules don’t reflect the differences between TV and Web ads. The Google ad that cost him $160 would have cost $2,900 more to get the ad’s 17 variations reviewed by a bar committee.

“There’s a disconnect between what the rules are and what the reality on the Internet is,” Wolfe said.

Phillip Witmann, http://www.stonepigman.com/attorneys/phillip_a_wittmann.html, who represents the disciplinary board said the government is entitled to regulate commercial speech that is misleading. He told the court the suits were premature because no one has yet been disciplined for violating the rules.

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