NY trial lawyers welcome advertising restrictions

By Ann Knef | Jul 20, 2006

A trial lawyer organization in New York supports new restrictions on attorney advertising as a means of restoring dignity to the profession.

New York's Academy of Trial Lawyers welcomes proposed rules that impose new time, place and manner restrictions on lawyer solicitation, according to an article in ther New York Law Journal. But the 500-member group would also like the most egregious behavior by unscrupulous lawyers to be dealt with legislatively rather than administratively.

The lawyers academy blames money as the root of distasteful advertising, and "…for some unscrupulous attorneys there is more to be gained and less to be lost by ignoring existing disciplinary rules," the article stated.

In June, the four presiding justices of New York's appellate divisions agreed on sweeping reforms to state bar disciplinary rules regarding attorney advertising, the Law Journal reported. The proposed rules are expected to go into effect Nov. 1.

"The current rules and system have the effect of rewarding lawyers who engage in prohibited activities," an Academy of Trial Lawyers report stated. "For some lawyers, the issue has become a simple matter of 'risk versus reward.' The amount of money a lawyer can make by attracting clients through improper solicitation and advertising is potentially substantial, and serious penalties for engaging in such prohibited activities are so rarely imposed that some lawyers yield to the temptation."

The proposed rules are so broad and cover so many areas "from solicitations of mass tort victims to the use of fictionalizations and dramatizations in ads -- that the presiding justices took the unusual step of ordering a 90-day comment period," according to the Law Journal's July 18 report.

The Academy of Trial Lawyers is the first major bar to comment publicly, according to the report. The New York State Trial Lawyers Association is holding a symposium in August and the New York State Bar Association is expected to announce its position before Sept. 15.

In the meantime, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America voted this week to change its name to the America Association for Justice, claiming trial lawyers are under attack by powerful corporations.

Last month ATLA Presiden Ken Suggs urged members to vote for the name change to reflect "what we do, not who our members are."

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