Missouri’s newly proposed revisions to the rules for lawyers wanting to advertise, market or solicit potential clients have been released for comments. Comments are due by the end of August.
I discuss the proposed rules in much more detail in this post on The Blawg Channel.
I’m dumbfounded by the proposed revisions. They are over-complicated, contradictory, do not take into account new technologies (such as the very new idea of email), apply rules appropriate to a limited number of trial lawyers to all lawyers, and generally micromanage the advertising process to guarantee that any efforts that follow the rules cannot possibly be effective.
Here would be my approach. Identify the specific problem areas. Consider the general principles of the First Amendment. Determine the least intrusive approach to address the specific problem area. Do no harm.
However, I’m not on this committee and, frankly, I have no idea what is intended to be accomplished by these rules or what thought processes produced them. Take a look for yourself and decide.
The only good news I see is that presenters talking about the wacky world of lawyer advertising rules have about 15 minutes of new comedy material.
I’m just at a loss trying to understand this kind of stuff. Heck, I gave them a set of comments a month or so ago, including a suggestion that referring to wording required on the “outside of an envelope” would make the committee look ridiculous in an era of email. They apparently were not persuaded by my comment on that subject or any other. I expressly offered to review the proposed rules for technological anachronisms, but was not taken up on that offer.
For a great thought experiment, imagine a yellow page ad strictly limited to no more than 1/4 of a page with all of the disclaimers and required language these rules require. You may have to leave your address out the ad.
I scratch my head in disbelief, but presume that these rules will pass with no further changes. I’m pretty sure that blogs are not outlawed by the rules, but I’m sure that I’ll be adding a ton of disclaimer language to my blog and website rather than using the time trying to earn a living.
The irony, of course, is that the existing rules should cover the concerns the drafters seem to be most concerned about and that it might make a bit more sense to enforce the rules than to micromanage the marketing materials and marketing efforts of all Missouri lawyers.