In an Opinion posted just minutes ago, the New Jersey Supreme Court has vacated Opinion 39 which sought to ban advertising in or related to Super Lawyers. The court ruled that the New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct 7 (a)(2) and (a)(3) must go, stating:
“we acknowledge that Opinion 39’s shortcomings
are the inevitable result of the plain language of RPC 7.1(a)(3)
(prohibiting comparative advertising statements) and, to a
lesser extent, RPC 7.1(a)(2) (prohibiting advertising “likely to
create an unjustified expectation about results”). Indeed, we
are persuaded that the standards set forth in the RPCs require
review and, at least in respect of RPC 7.1(a)(3), modification
both because of the constitutional concerns identified in the
Report and in light of the emerging trends in attorney
The court has referred the matter to three committees for consideration of a revised rule in light of the policy consideration in the Special Master’s report and legitimate free speech concerns.
We are thrilled that Opinion 39 has been completely rejected, and feel vindicated in our assertions that lawyers have a constitutional right to truthfully advertise bona fide honor and awards, and that publications such as Super Lawyers provide much needed information to both consumers and attorneys who are beginning the search for legal counsel, or want to validate a referral.