New York Bar wants anti-ad rules dropped by state

The New York State Bar Association is proposing that restrictions on lawyers' advertising should be dropped.

New York State rules currently prohibit law firms placing adverts which include “puffery”, “self-laudation” and claims that “cast reflection on the legal profession as a whole”.

But a string of US Supreme Court rulings in the past few years have held that such restrictions on advertising are unconstitutional and many state Bars have as a result been reviewing their rules.

The US legal profession is regulated by the state courts, not by the state Bar associations, but the Bars can propose rule changes.

New York is one of the last bars to review its rules.

Steven Krane, of Proskauer Rose Goetz & Mendelsohn, chaired the committee set up to review the New York Bar's Code of Professional Responsibility.

He said: “Many state Bars decided not to change the rules unless or until they were challenged in the courts. Some others have relaxed advertising restrictions. In New York there are a lot of small firms who would benefit from advertising.”

The proposed new rules, which must be agreed by the New York state courts, the appellate divisions, only prohibit “claims that are false, deceptive or misleading” and they apply to any communication with a prospective client – brochures, letters, television and print advertising.

They also remove a blanket ban on lawyers soliciting in person for clients, only disallowing it where the client would be unlikely “to exercise reasonable judgement in retaining an attorney”.