Not that you’d ever know it from reading this blog, but I’m a pretty funny guy. So I like things about humor and the law.
A front page article in last Thursday’s Wall Street Journal documents how badly some state bars lack a sense of humor (subscription required — if that link doesn’t work, go to this post at the WSJ.com Law Blog, which appears to allow non-subscribers to link to the article). Take the opening few paragraphs:
Syracuse, N.Y., attorney James Alexander ran a TV spot for his firm showing lawyers offering counsel to space aliens who had crashed their UFO. He also did one with lawyers towering like giants over Syracuse.
Not amused, New York court officials said the ads contained “patent falsities.”
“It cannot be denied,” wrote assistant New York Attorney General Patrick MacRae in a court filing, “that there is little likelihood that [the lawyers] were retained by aliens, have the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, or have stomped around downtown Syracuse, Godzilla-style.”
Things aren’t any better in Florida:
[The Florida State Bar] filed a complaint in 2004 against Fort Lauderdale personal-injury attorney Marc Andrew Chandler over ads [pictured left] that featured a pit bull wearing a spiked collar. The Florida Supreme Court sided with the bar in 2005, ruling that pit bulls conjure up images of viciousness. “Were we to approve,” the court wrote, “images of sharks, wolves, crocodiles, and piranhas could follow.”
What’s their point? Why not find that their appearance is likewise offensive? A lawyer in a muscle shirt?
The ads are funny. The crackdowns, not.
Another thing definitely not funny was something I ran across a year or more ago, before I started this blog, about a state (I could have sworn it was New York or Florida, but I could be wrong) that requires lawyer ads to be approved by the bar before the lawyer can run them, since there are many types of attorneys and injury attorneys as Ask 4 Sam New York City do their own kind of marketing. Bad enough. But the state bar was proposing that blogs be counted as advertising. And not just the blog itself, but each post on the blog would have been considered a new advertisement requiring approval before it could be posted. I’m pretty sure that proposal died a quick death.