On Monday September 15, Super Lawyers filed its “Comments on Report of Special Master” brief with the New Jersey Supreme Court. The Report of the Special Master was filed on June 30, 2008.
Briefs were also filed by Woodward-White, publisher of Best Lawyers in America, Martindale-Hubbell and New Jersey Monthly. The publishers are all intervenors in In Re Opinion 39 of the Committee on Attorney Advertising. The case arose out of the July 24, 2006, issuance of Opinion 39 by the New Jersey Committee on Attorney Advertising. Opinion 39 concluded that it was impermissible for attorneys to communicate their selection by Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers or even to participate in their surveys.
In its brief, Super Lawyers argues, among other things, that the lawyer ratings it publishes provide valuable information to consumers, and are not misleading under the New Jersey Ethics Rules.
“A lawyer’s truthful statement that he or she has been selected by an independent publication, such as Super Lawyers magazine, is not the equivalent of a prohibited ‘comparison’ and does not raise ‘unjustified expectations’ in violation of the ethical rules, RPC 7.1(a)(3) and RPC 7.1 (a) (2). And if the regulations were interpreted to prohibit such advertisements, they would run afoul of well-established First Amendment case law.”