Evolution of Legal Advertisement

An article on Legal advertising blows past $1 billion and goes viral revisits the discussion that has been going on towards how lawyers should market their services. The article seeks to address the longstanding controversy as to whether lawyers have an ethical responsibility to place advertisement on social and mainstream media. The ethical code of conduct expected from legal experts has been a raging debate for some time. Evolution of legal advertisement is a contentious issue that has elicited scholarly research. The question as to whether lawyers should advertise their services has lately covered national media. A review of this article explores the experience of various law firms and individual legal professionals in their attempts to adopt advertising. Group Matrix is one of the firms that are quoted in the article as having made millions of money from working as advertising agency to lawyers. The analysis of the contribution of some of the lawyers asserts the fact that the lawyers have the right to advertise. The issue of discussion is critical as influences public perception of lawyers and the general quality of judicial dispensation. Like any other profession, legal expert are allowed in line with business practices (Victor,n.d). The approach of advertising is evidently considered as not a preserve of   the lawyers. However, the increasing influence of marketing in service industry has not left out legal experts. However, mixed reaction among the legal bodies, the government and members of the public provoke intense research on the topic. The sensitivity of the lawyer’s services makes the topic critical. In essence, banning advertising on legal services is a matter of constitutional violation of the first amendment. The article questions the ABA’s opposition to advertising but hints at the possibility of unethical negativity   that some law firms associate with their competitors.

 

The article’s position on legal advertising borrows from several example of cases that include; Bates v. State Bar of Arizona,Ohralik v. Ohio State Bar Association In re Primus, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission of New York, among others.The case on Bates v. State Bar of Arizona was a result of two legal experts from Arizona that opened a legal service to help the low income earners. They decided to place a newspaper advertisement to attract more clients and gain more income. The intervention of state Bar against their action was met with outcry that the probation contravened the free speech clause in the first amendment that upholds right to free speech and Sherman Act. The ruling was that advertisement is acceptable as a way to inform and create awareness among prospective clients and such disciplinary rule against the lawyers was a violation of the constitutional first amendments. The ruling was therefore based on 14th and 1st amendment. The justification for the ruling was that Sherman Act does not restrain commercial advertising on any service. The fact that legal services have fixed prices does not make it unethical to adjust in response to additional charges and special circumstances (Victor,n.d). In fact, the ruling further emphasized the role of advertising as a tool that promotes information exchange between buyer and seller and legal service is one such activities. Unless advertising is done with misrepresented information on price, quality, and quantity, it is a right of any person including legal entity like a law firm. In a review of the article in question, the ruling on legal advertisement is legal and has little to do with ethics. Any attempt to prohibit advertising even put the clients to the risk of exploitation. Besides, the advertising is a commercial endeavor that works in the spirit of economic development and exchange of information.

The article seems to explore various business codes of ethics in relation to legal services. Although mixed responses is evident the article, the experiences of such law firms such as the law hawks, Women card, and Matrix group  tells a lot about the constitutionality of advertising. After all, prohibiting lawyers from advertising is tantamount to gagging press. The criticism on the ABA’s professional position against legal adverts and comparative analysis of the article’s findings explores the contentious nature of the issue. However, overwhelming evidence and critical argument in favor of advertising (Victor,n.d). The ethical concerns discussed in the article and the overwhelming constitutionality stated by many advocates makes it clear that legal advertising and ethics is subjective. Advertising is good in the sense that it creates competition in terms of the quality of the services. Besides, the information gap that promotes exploitation and soliciting of money from unsuspecting clients. In that respect, the legal professionals will improve on their quality of services, client will get fair prices, and the judicial system would improve significantly. I believe that advertising is a constitutionally accepted tool for marketing.However,when it comes to online advertising, it is a given that making untrue claims, bait-and-switch offers, and the like are unethical (Victor,n.d). But those aren’t the only ethical issues to consider. Advertorials, interstitial ads, pop-ups and pop-unders, contextual links, and overlay ads, all come with ethical hazards.  However, emphasis needs to be put in place to secure the interest of the clients through censored actions of the lawyers. Generally, the legal professionals needs tighter rules to tame their tactical advertising approaches that may include manipulation of clients and frustrating judicial process after getting a client.

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