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Editorial Questions Whether New York's Lawyer Advertising Rules Protect Consumers

Attorney_adsOn Tuesday, an interesting editorial was published in The Post-Standard regarding New York's lawyer advertising rules, which became effective last February.  The editorial discussed the new rules in the context of the lawsuit challenging the rules that is currently pending in federal court in the Northern District of New York.

The gist of the editorial was that the recently enacted rules do not necessarily serve their intended purpose of protecting legal consumers from "misleading" information.  The editorial also questioned whether consumers actually need more protection than had been provided under the previously existing rules that regulated attorney advertising.

From the article:

It is curious that the state feels the need to protect consumers from lawyers, but not from businesses like pharmaceutical firms. The drug companies' "Ask Your Doctor" ads effectively encourage consumers to distrust their doctors' ability to prescribe the appropriate medication and instead be guided by the pharmaceutical giants. Yet there has been no great effort to regulate that industry...

Shouldn't consumers decide whether they think the "heavy hitters" are indeed heavy hitters unless, of course, the state can prove the firm is engaging in fraudulent practices? Even if it is, the state's existing rules should be sufficient to go after the firm....

Judge Scullin himself seemed to express some reservations about the rules, pointing out that the U.S. Supreme Court has supported lawyers' First Amendment rights. He also wondered whether the state's previous standards were sufficient to regulate law firms. Public Interest and Alexander and Catalano, which has stopped using the "heavy hitter" phase, support the old rules...

The author raises some good points.  However, only time will tell if Judge Scullin truly believes that the new rules go too far.


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