New rules were announced in New York yesterday by the Office of Court Administration after months of debate regarding attorney advertising. The rules can be found here, courtesy of the New York State Bar Association. Two things of note, first on the reason for the rules and second on how they are applied.
The rule changes were prompted in part, I believe, by a number of attorneys rushing ads into the Staten Island Advance after the Staten Island Ferry disaster of October 2003, killing ten people.
Many ads appeared in the Advance the very next day, having been submitted the day of the accident before all the survivors had even been evacuated. It was not the finest hour of the New York bar.
The original rules suggested last year that there be a 30 day prohibition of such advertising for mass disaster. A problem with that was that the same rule didn’t apply to defense lawyers and their agents rushing in to try and settle cases before the injured had a chance to fairly evaluate their rights (or even to contemplate their future).
The new rules apply to all personal injury cases (not just mass disaster) and apply also to defense counsel. So if there must be change, at least now it won’t be to the detriment of those injured.
But this also leads to the second part, and that is defining attorney advertising. A web site clearly qualifies as an ad in the rules and must be so noted with the words “attorney advertising.” In fact, my own web site on personal injury law already has this comment in place:
This website is the firm’s electronic brochure, its sole form of attorney advertising. You found this site only because you looked for us. We do not engage in television, radio, print, mail or spam email advertising campaigns of any kind. Frankly, we find many of them somewhat offensive.
Throughout this site you will see examples of cases we have handled. Since all cases are different, and legal authority may change from year to year, it is important to remember that prior results cannot and do not guarantee or predict similar outcomes with respect to any future matter, including yours, in which any lawyer or law firm may be retained.
But what of web logs and their ever-changing content? If I link to my own web site, as I just did above, does this blog now become an advertisement? I also have this paragraph at my web site:
The Turkewitz Law Firm also sponsors the New York Personal Injury Law Blog to discuss issues of New York personal injury law, medical malpractice, cases of interest in the press, and public policy regarding the justice system. To the extent that it may discuss past cases the firm has handled for illustrative purposes, or in any way mentions the the firm or its services, the New York courts may deem this to be attorney advertising.
Will our web logs be considered advertising? Comments welcome on that one…
[Addendum: The front page article on attorney advertising in the New York Law Journal is now available at Law.com at this link.]
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