An item in today’s New Jersey Law Journal daily news alert is potentially misleading and needs clarification. The Journal reports:
COURT LIKELY TO EASE, NOT LIFT, ITS BAN ON COMPARATIVE LAWYER ADVERTISING
New Jersey’s Supreme Court seems poised to alter its current outright prohibition on advertising in which lawyers compare their abilities to others, probably by requiring that such ads include caveats to potential clients. The Court wants to create a “sensibly balanced rule,” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said Wednesday at a hearing on whether lawyer should be able, within limits, to tout their ratings in publications like Super Lawyers Best Lawyers. But it was clear from the tenor of the arguments and the justices’ occasional remarks that comparative advertisements will likely have to be accompanied by some form of disclaimer that “super lawyer” or “best lawyer” designations do not have the Court’s blessing.
Reading this, one might infer that lawyers are currently banned from advertising in, or mentioning selection to Super Lawyers (or Best Lawyers) in their advertising because of the comparative advertising rule. That is not the case. Over the past four years, hundreds of New Jersey lawyers have advertised in New Jersey Super Lawyers magazine, or have mentioned the Super Lawyers honor in their advertising or promotional materials. Not a single one of them has been disciplined, or threatened with discipline for doing so. The same can be said of the thousands of lawyers nationwide who advertise or mention their selection to Super Lawyers.
Super Lawyers has been around since 1991. In those 18 years, no court or discipline authority has ever prohibited lawyers from advertising in or about Super Lawyers.
So, New Jersey lawyers and reporters, please note: There is no ban on Super Lawyers or Best Lawyers advertising. Never has been and, as long as the First Amendment is around, there never will be.
The only thing the New Jersey Supreme Court has banned is the clumsy and misguided disaster known as Opinion 39 which itself sought to impose such a ban at the expense of free speech. Click here to read the court’s opinion and here to read the report of Judge Fall upon which the court based its ruling.