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New Louisiana Lawyer Ad Restrictions Unconstitutional

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By Jason Beahm on February 03, 2011 5:49 AM

Lawyers get to advertise too.

So said the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, after striking down a ban in Louisiana for results-oriented lawyer advertising. The rule was part of the Louisiana State Bar's rules of professional conduct. The bar rules expressly prohibited testimonials and information about positive results, even if completely factual. For attorneys who believe in the right to advertise their services, the ruling was considered at least a partial victory, the Associated Press reports.

The court also ruled against the Louisiana State Bar's complete ban on portraying the justice system with settings like a judge or jury in attorney advertising. The court uphold rules that prohibit attorneys in Louisiana from using nicknames, trade names, mottos and slogans "that imply an ability to obtain results."

The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board has said the new rules, which took effect in October 2009, were designed to protect the public from deceptive ads. But Judge Edith Brown Clement called the prohibitive lawyer advertising rule "insufficiently sophisticated to avoid being misled by a courtroom not devoid of its normal occupants." The case included additional rulings, such as finding that it was allowable to use actors in advertisements, as long as the fact is disclosed. That's in line with advertising rules in other states. "The objected-to restrictions effectively rule out the ability of Louisiana lawyers to employ short advertisements of any kind," Clement wrote, the Associated Press reports.

This may not be the end of the matter though. The plaintiffs are considering pushing to have the case heard before the full 5th Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court.

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