NEW ORLEANS (CN) – The Louisiana Disciplinary Board’s new rules on Internet advertising are unconstitutionally broad and unfair, and would require attorneys to seek Bar permission, and pay a $175 fee, to post a blog, a law office claims in Federal Court. Scott Wolfe Jr. adds that the new disclosure rules would prevent firms from advertising through popular Internet platforms such as Twitter, and on popular Web sites such as Google, YouTube and Facebook.
The Wolfe Law Group clams the new rules will require law firms to seek permission, and pay $175 fees, for Bar approval for blogs, podcasts and regular emails to clients.
Wolfe specifically challenges Rules 7.2 and 7.6(d).
Rule 7.6 applies to Internet postings, and specifically refers to Blogs. Wolfe claims that under Rule 7, “the amended rules require that prior to the speech being made, the speech must be referred to the Louisiana State Bar Association, along with a fee of $175 for approval.”
This is ridiculous, unwieldy and unconstitutional, Wolfe says.
He “challenges the constitutionality of amendments to the lawyer advertising provisions of the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct that were originally scheduled to become effective on December 1, 2008, but has (sic) been subsequently delayed until April 1, 2009. The amended rules are over-broad and facially unconstitutional,” Wolfe says.
Here’s the background: “In 2006,” Wolfe says, “the Louisiana State Senate adopted a concurrent resolution stating that ‘the manner in which some members of the Louisiana State Bar Association are advertising their services in this state has become undignified and poses a threat to the way lawyers are perceived in this state.’ In an eventual response to this 2006 resolution, the Louisiana Supreme Court adopted certain proposed rules on July 3, 2008.”
Wolfe complains that “The new rules require certain information to be contained within any communication conveying information about a lawyer, having the indirect effect of completely restricting lawyers from advertising their services through online mediums.” This is Rule 7.2, which requires that every communication must contain “the name of at least one lawyer responsible for their content” and must “disclose, by city or town, one or more bona fide office location(s) of the lawyer or lawyers who will actually perform the services advertised.”
Wolfe says this will prevent attorneys from advertising with thumbnail-type ads on platforms such as Twitter, Google and Facebook.
Wolfe filed the case pro se.