Florida Bar's Attack on the First Amendment

The Florida Bar has got some of the wackiest anti-lawyer advertising rules anywhere, most of which unlawfully curtail commercial speech. As pointed out in the Wall Street Journal last week, Florida purports to have the power to regulate and ban certain sounds in lawyer ads.

According to the Journal, a personal-injury firm produced a series of TV spots with scenes including children running and lawyers at work in their offices. In 2006, the Florida bar struck down the ads on the grounds that they contained improper content, including the sound of children bouncing a ball. Other impermissible sounds, according to the bar: a computer turning off, a light switch turning off, and footsteps.

Those who make and enforce the lawyer advertising rules in Florida are nuts, plain and simple. What governmental interest, let alone the substantial interest required under the First Amendment to ban certain type of speech, is protected by the banning of the sounds of a bouncing ball in an ad.

Can you imagine this scene: otherwise reasonable people sitting around a conference room on a beautiful day in Florida, listening to sounds on lawyer ads, then voting: "yes, that one's OK; no that one we should ban."

Hopefully, some attorney in Florida will take them on (again.)
Ben Glass
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Ben is a nationally recognized expert in attorney marketing and the owner of Great Legal Marketing.
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