Capitol Views: Attorney advertising review gaining support

    The House Judiciary Committee easily advanced legislation this morning that would bring new scrutiny and oversight to the promotional practices employed by law firms. SCR37 by Senate President Pro-Tem Gerald Long, R-Winnfield, would have both the state Supreme Court and Louisiana Bar Association study the existing advertising rules for attorneys and consider drafting new guidelines.

    According to the resolution’s author, it’s been 10 years since the current regulations were last amended. He believes it is time for both the Supreme Court and Bar Association, who are charged with oversight of the legal profession, to conduct a thorough review of what lawyers can and cannot do when trying to drum up business. “We want them to take a fresh look at this,” Long said. “Most people believe that it needs to be looked at.”

    While speaking on his measure before the panel, Long expressed frustration with the proliferation of legal advertising, pointing out that one Louisiana law firm spent over $12 million on promotional campaigns last year. He also stated that he believes than many ads are misleading to potential clients. “It is disingenuous to tell somebody ‘I got this much and you can get it too,’” he said.  

    The Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the resolution lasted less than 15 minutes, as no member voiced opposition or moved against sending the matter to the House floor for consideration. During Long’s testimony, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the panel expressed their support for the measure and asked to join the senator as co-authors of the resolution. “Co-authors are always good,” Long responded with a chuckle.

    The matter has already been considered by the Senate and received unanimous passage on

    May 1. As the instrument is simply a resolution instead of a bill, it now only needs approval from the full House to go into effect, bypassing the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards, D-Amite.

    Despite the favorable outlook for passage of his resolution, Long is still preparing to encounter formidable opposition on the House floor. “I expect there to be a healthy debate on this issue as there is with any bill or resolution,” he said.   

    Jeremy Alford will publish Capitol Views each afternoon on Daily Report PM through the end of the legislative session. The report is also available to subscribers at LaPolitics.com.       

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