Capitol Views: Attorney advertising under scrutiny

    The Senate Judiciary A Committee advanced legislation Tuesday morning that could bring more oversight to the advertising practices attorneys use when trying to land new clients. While SCR 37 by Senate President Pro-Tem Gerald Long, R-Winnfield, is not a death knell for some lawyers’ glitzy television commercials and big billboards, it would create an exhaustive study of the existing guidelines on the books that are used when creating legal ads.

    The resolution’s author said that the idea for the measure came while he was watching TV one evening and saw five consecutive ads for law firms during a single commercial break. “The proliferation of this advertising is great,” Long said. “This resolution is not about censorship; this is about asking for a thorough review of those policies and procedures.”

    While groups such as the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry are supportive of the measure, Long insisted that the initiative for the instrument was his alone. “I had nobody contact me and ask me to bring this.”

    According to Long, it has been nearly a decade since the advertising rules were last examined and modified by the state Supreme Court and Bar Association. Since then, he argues, the amount of legal-themed TV spots and billboards has increased exponentially. “Things have changed,” he said. “I see this as a good time to take another look.”

    The senator said his resolution would not change any of the existing rules, but simply direct the Supreme Court and Bar Association to study the legal industry’s current guidelines and enforcement mechanisms for advertising. “This would be an open review by those who already regulate it,” Long said.  

    The measure received no opposition from either the committee or the general public during testimony. Sen. Ryan Gatti, a Shreveport Republican and practicing attorney himself, supported Long’s resolution because he believes the sheer amount of TV commercials and billboards have hurt average attorneys. “The amount of advertising has increased way more than we ever thought it would,” he said.

    The full Senate is expected to take up the resolution in a floor debate next week.

    Jeremy Alford will publish Capitol Views each afternoon in Daily Report PM through the end of the legislative session.  

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