Lawyer Ethics and Advertising

Greg Beck is a leading expert on constitutional issues surrounding regulation of lawyer ethics and advertising, and has brought a number of successful challenges to state ethics regulations. He consults with lawyers on advertising and other ethics issues, represents lawyers facing discipline, assists in obtaining bar approval and appealing denial of ads, and opposes the adoption of new advertising restrictions.

Selected Cases

Searcy v. Florida Bar, 140 F. Supp. 3d 1290 (N.D. Fla. 2015). Challenge to Florida rule prohibiting lawyers from describing themselves as specialists or experts in areas of law on their websites and on social-media sites like LinkedIn. The Northern District of Florida held the rule unconstitutional.

Radcliffe v. Experian Information Solutions Inc., 715 F.3d 1157 (9th Cir. 2015). Defending an objecting lawyer’s right under Rule 23 and the First Amendment to contact members of a class to express his opposition to a proposed class-action settlement.

Rubenstein v. Florida Bar, 72 F. Supp. 3d 1298 (S.D. Fla. 2014). Successful First Amendment challenge to rule prohibiting truthful statements about results in past cases.

Comments of the Tennessee First Amendment Society on Petition to Adopt Changes to Rules of Professional Conduct on Lawyer Advertising. Comments to the Tennessee Court opposing proposed amendments that would prohibit lawyer advertisements from using, among other things, actors and celebrities, visual depictions, statements about the quality of a lawyer’s services and past cases, and background sounds. After the comment period, the Court declined to adopt the proposed amendments.

Harrell v. Florida Bar, 915 F. Supp. 2d 1285 (M.D. Fla. 2011). Successful First Amendment and vagueness challenge to Florida lawyer-advertising rules limiting advertisements to “useful, factual information” and prohibiting statements regarding the quality of a lawyer’s services, “manipulative” advertisements, and background sounds on television.

Public Citizen Inc. v. Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Bd., 632 F.3d 212 (5th Cir. 2011). Successful First Amendment challenge to Louisiana lawyer advertising rules restricting use of past results and trade names, and requiring burdensome disclaimers on dramatizations.

Harrell v. Florida Bar, 608 F.3d 1241 (11th Cir. 2010). Successful appeal of district court’s decision that it lacked jurisdiction over attorney’s First Amendment challenge to lawyer advertising rules.

Alexander v. Cahill, 598 F.3d 79 (2d Cir. 2010). Successful First Amendment challenge to New York lawyer advertising rules restricting advertising content that is unverifiable or irrelevant to the selection of counsel.

Rothman v. Florida Bar, No. 09-80503 (S.D. Fla. dismissed pursuant to settlement Nov. 11, 2009). First Amendment challenge to Florida Bar rules governing websites and online advertising. The case was dismissed pursuant to settlement.