LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell has submitted a motion to intervene in the New Jersey Supreme Court proceedings relating to Opinion 39 that restricts attorney advertising. Their brief is attached here. Martindale Hubbell's brief is aimed at correcting alleged errors on how its Peer Review Ratings system has been characterized in briefs by Best Lawyers and Super Lawyers. Moreover, Martindale Hubbell seeks to participate in oral arguments or other hearings required by the New Jersey Supreme Court and have input into rule-making that may result from the court's review of Opinion 39.
The potential addition of Martindale-Hubbell highlights the fact that Opinion 39's restrictive approach to commercial speech by attorneys has potentially far-reaching effects on a wide range of activities. Martindale-Hubbell states that:
"Martindale-Hubbell has an interest in the outcome of this Court's review of Opinion 39 as it likely will impact Martindale-Hubbell's right to continue its Peer Review Rating system. Though Opinion 39 approved of Martindale-Hubbell's current Rating system, Martindale-Hubbell seeks to protect its interest and rights to expand or modify its Rating system. Second, this Court's review of Opinion 39 may impede or impair Martindale-Hubbell's interest by limiting its flexibility to change the services it provides and manner in which it markets these services, and locking it into its current Rating system."
The Martindale-Hubbell brief later states:
"The Petition for Review of Opinion 39 raises important constitutional issues. A per se ban of participation in and use of certain peer review rating systems potentially infringes on the legal community and consumers of a useful means to refer and select counsel."
For our part, we believe our brief accurately portrays the Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating publications, as well as its related policies and procedures.
Click here to read the Martindale-Hubble brief, and, as always, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good news for consumers and lawyers named in New York Super Lawyers magazine. It appears New York will not be following New Jersey's lead in prohibiting lawyers from mentioning the Super Lawyers designation in their advertising. The revised NY rules, released today, incorporate language we recommended in the comments to the proposed rules we submitted last August.
The rules now state that lawyers may include information as to "bona fide professional ratings." Read Section 1200.6 (b)(1) here. This is a victory not just for us and all other bona fide rating services, but most importantly, for consumers who need this sort of reliable information in order to make rational judgments in selecting legal counsel.
UPDATE - JAN 19, 2007: There was an article published today about the New York rules in the New Jersey Law Journal (via law.com). The author, Henry Gottlieb, notes that:
"The New York courts have amended advertising rules to allow attorneys to tout their "bona fide professional ratings" -- another example that New Jersey could be out of step if it adopts a proposed ban on services like Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America."
Click here for the full text.