Supreme Court seeks comments on lawyer advertising rule changes

October 14, 2003

The Mississippi Supreme Court seeks public comments on proposed changes to rules governing lawyer advertising.

Comments should be submitted in writing to the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Gartin Justice Building, P.O. Box 249, Jackson, MS 39205. The deadline is Oct. 31.

Changes adopted May 29 but suspended pending further consideration include:

• a prohibition against advertisements which create an unjustified, false or misleading expectation about results the lawyer can achieve, which state or imply that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate these rules or other law, or which state or imply that the lawyer is able to influence improperly or upon irrelevant grounds any tribunal, legislative body or public official;

• a requirement that advertisements and written communications shall disclose the geographic location by city or town of one or more offices of the lawyer or lawyers whose services are advertised or shall state that additional information about the lawyer or firm can be obtained by contacting the Mississippi Bar.

A comment in the draft states, "Rule 7.2(c) requires advertisements to contain a geographic office location because experience has shown, in the absence of such a regulation, members of the public have been misled into employing a lawyer in a distant city or another state, only to later learn that the lawyer is rarely available to the client."

The draft would require that a copy or recording of an advertisement be submitted to the Office of General Counsel of the Mississippi Bar. The new proposal lists 12 exemptions from the requirement. Telephone directory advertisements, business cards, letterhead and office signs are among the categories exempt.

The proposal states that a lawyer may request an advisory opinion from the Office of General Counsel concerning the compliance of a contemplated advertisement. When the Office of General Counsel determines that an advertisement or communication is not in compliance with the rules, the office may advise the lawyer that continued use of the material may result in professional discipline.

A copy of the entire draft proposal is available on the Supreme Court's web site, Go the NEWS page.