No talking dogs or space aliens in Tenn atty ads

Today’s Legal Times has a story about how the Tennessee Supreme Court wants to apply serious restrictions upon lawyer advertising. And the Federal Trade Commission is balking! “Not so much!” the FTC is saying.

Now, isn’t this upside down? While I have many beefs with Tennessee’s politics, after reading this I’m cheering the court on and am boo-ing the FTC. Why? Well, take a look at the beginning of this article and pay special attention to the last sentence:

January 25, 2013

FTC Urges Tennessee Court to Ease Off Lawyer Ad Restrictions

The Federal Trade Commission is urging the Tennessee Supreme Court not to adopt sweeping new restrictions on attorney advertising, calling the proposed new rules unnecessarily broad and not in the best interest of consumers.

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.

“Talking dogs and space aliens”??? The FTC is barking up the wrong tree here. It might as well mandate that lawyers quote Yelp “reviews” in their ads. The FTC said, “More narrowly tailored rules would better address the concerns underlying the proposed regulations. For example, requiring a clear and prominent disclosure that actors are portraying clients would be a less restrictive way to alleviate any concern about potential deception.”

Yeah, but what about disclosing something about space aliens? And those talking dogs? Don’t they rate full disclosure?

Personally, if I were a Tennessee lawyer I’d be damn glad that my state’s Supreme Court wants to ban my fellow lawyers from using space aliens to advertise their wares.

Here’s the whole piece: FTC Urges Tennessee Court to Ease Off Lawyer Ad Restrictions – The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.

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