On November 27, 1858 the Fourteenth President of the United States listed the following ad in a local newspaper in Illinois as a practicing attorney prior to his successful nationwide president campaign:
Lincoln and Herndon
Attorneys and Counsellors at Law
Will practice in the Court of Law
And Chancery in this State
Fortunately, for our country, he was not disciplined or disbarred for his entry into the field of lawyer advertising.
In an article in the July edition of the American Bar Association Journal, ABA Ethics Counsel Dennis Rendelman discussed a proposal by the Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility on “Lawyer Advertising” to be presented to the ABA House of Delegates for approval in Chicago at the ABA 2018 Annual Meeting.
He does a short historical review of the changing of the legal community’s attitude in the 1850’s towards lawyer advertising being completely prohibited through the present day almost non-existence efforts to control “deceptive” advertising since the adopting of the Bates decision by the United States Supreme Court in 1978.
A group formed in 1990, the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL) with an announced membership of 450 has submitted reports over the past four (4) years that has resulted in the proposed amendments to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct 7.1-7.5 that will be discussed in Chicago.
Each reader of this Blog should acquire a copy of the present Model Rules and the proposal amendments and come to their own opinion and voice the same to the ABA.
Do these proposal amendments adhere to the language of Justice Blackmun in Bates that “the judicial and legal community would regulate lawyer advertising to avoid deception in simple legal matters?” Or does it further open the already saturated flood gates of the lawyer advertising field that allows almost any type of representations as to the qualifications of the soliciting attorney(s).
Abraham Lincoln may have taken a bold step in his firm’s simple announcement but getting elected President in 1860 may have eliminated any bar association efforts to discipline him for his innocuous advertisement.
I encourage you to buy local products and hire local, reputable attorneys!