Friday, December 15, 2017

Recent case is good reminder of details on advertising regulation, and also on debate on whether we need them

A month ago, the Legal Profession blog reported on a recent case in South Carolina in which the court discussed some of the details that apply to the regulation of advertising.  It serves as a reminder of how courts often use the ban against "misleading" advertising as a catch-all rule to impose discipline.

In this case, the lawyer was reprimanded for, among other things,

1.  using the tagline "attorneys at law" on his law firm letterhead.  This was found to be misleading because the lawyer is a solo practitioner.

2. claiming that he had "28 years experience both as a lawyer and former law enforcement officer."  In fact, the lawyer had 16 years of experience as a lawyer, and 12 years of experience as a law enforcement officer.  The statement was found to be misleading because it suggested the lawyer had 28 years of experience as a lawyer.

3.  using the telephone number (844) FIXTICKET.  This was found to be misleading because it would create unjustified expectations or an implication that the lawyer could achieve a specific result by unethical means.

4.  claiming "unique insight into the South Carolina traffic laws that many other lawyers simply do not have." 

I do agree that the statements are misleading and that, under the current rules, discipline is justified.  But this is the type of case that fuels the debate as to whether the profession needs to be concerned with the type of regulation to begin with.  Do consumers really need to be protected from these types of statements that are not that uncommon in the world of advertising?

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