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Advertising Rules for Lawyers May Change

By: Mike Springer Email
By: Mike Springer Email

'Don't settle for less than you deserve' has been the slogan of Harrell & Harrell for nearly a decade.But a decision by the Florida Bar threatened to change that.

"The first amendment and commercial free speech is something that we all cherish. And anytime you're going to allow the state to censor commercial free speech we have to be careful that the rules are only oriented to only accomplish what they need to accomplish," says Frank.

When the firm was told by the Florida Bar that its slogan violated the bar's rules, Harrell & Harrell sought the council of the Public Citizen Litigation Group and attorney David Frank.

In 2008, Frank and Public Citizen Litigation Group filed a twenty page lawsuit, challenging that decision. Claiming the Florida Bar had violated their client's right to free speech.

"Well, if the plaintiff, our client Mr. Harrell had just accepted the staff rejection of their ad and their slogan, they would have been throwing out five years of expensive branding," says Frank.

Since 2002, the personal injury law firm out of Jacksonville says it spent around two million dollars a year in advertising.

But the ruling's impact extends beyond Harrell & Harrell. Frank says it will change the way attorneys all across the state advertise.

"Hopefully it will allow the bar to focus on the more aggressive issues," says Frank.

On Friday, the U.S. District Court in Jacksonville ruled Harrell & Harrell's ad did not violate any rules.

Attorney for the Florida Bar, Barry Richard says the bar has already recommend changes that were in the works before the litigation began.. A list of the new proposals is posted on the Florida Bar's website. Richard is recommending the bar not file an appeal.


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