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Nevada court OKs lawyer advertising rules

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2007/04/27 15:51

Rule changes to ensure lawyers' ads are accurate and that clients aren't misled were approved Thursday by the Nevada Supreme Court. But justices say they can't demand that ads be in good taste. "Citizens often choose lawyers based solely on their advertisements," said Justice James Hardesty, who helped get the new rules passed. "Because choosing a lawyer can be such an important decision, we want our citizens to have accurate and complete information."

"Lawyer advertising, because of its sheer volume, touches virtually everyone in Nevada and influences the public's perception about attorneys in general," said Chief Justice William Maupin.

One new rule prohibits lawyers from making claims that create an unjustified expectation about the outcome of a case. If a law firm advertises that it has obtained certain verdicts, for example, it must be able to provide proof.

Another reform requires that ads promoting a fee arrangement must advertise the entire arrangement. Justice Hardesty noted that one law firm advertised a low-percentage contingency fee, but didn't say the fee escalated if the case was not resolved in 30 days.

What will no longer be regulated is whether or not an ad is in bad taste.

"Taste is something we cannot govern without infringing on First Amendment rights," said Hardesty. "So restrictions on taste will be eliminated, but the new rules will make sure the content is not false or misleading."

Under the new rules, taking effect Sept. 1, lawyers must submit their ads to the State Bar for review within 15 days after publication or broadcast. If an ad is deemed to be inaccurate or misleading, it must be pulled. Attorneys can submit ads in advance for an advisory determination.

Because advertisements generally don't reveal a lawyer's background, attorneys also must provide their resumes to clients who request them.


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