Dog is talking on telephone, on white background

Don’t expect to see him in Tennessee lawyer ads anytime soon.

What do you think of lawyer ads?

“Not much” is probably your answer.

But what do you think of association limits on attorney advertising? That second question often leads to fightin’ words.

A recent news story described the latest effort by a bar association—this time in Tennessee—to control aspects of lawyer ads. As you can read, those restrictions drew the attention of the Federal Trade Commission, which said “Hands off.”

As Jenna Greene wrote:

“Tennessee is considering proposals that would ban the use of actors playing the role of clients, prohibit ads narrated by well-known spokespeople (here’s looking at you, William Shatner) and forbid certain background sounds.”

“Also on the table: a rule that would limit the images in ads to gavels, scales of justice, the Statue of Liberty, flags, eagles, courthouses, columns, law books or photos of attorneys (‘against a plain, single-colored background or unadorned set of law books.’) Specifically forbidden: talking dogs and space aliens.”

“In addition, one proposal calls for ads to be pre-screened by a review committee of the Board of Professional Responsibility, and would ban firms without a ‘bona fide’ office in Tennessee from advertising.”

Yes, the restriction singled out talking dogs and space aliens. Hmmm.

The FTC signaled that it finds the restrictions “overbroad.”

Here in Arizona, we take a special historic interest in lawyer ads and what constitutes “overbroad.” (See Bates v. Arizona State Bar, 433 U.S. 350 (1977).)

What do you think of the FTC’s analysis? If you tend not to like lawyer ads, do you agree with bar association restrictions?

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