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In re Petition to Adopt Changes to Rules of Professional Conduct on Lawyer Advertising (Tennessee)

Topic(s): First Amendment
Court: Select Court

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Public Citizen filed comments on proposed changes to rules governing lawyer advertising in Tennessee. The Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers prohibit false and misleading advertising. Before the state supreme court were two petitions that sought broader restrictions on lawyer advertising, including bans on the use of sounds other than instrumental music, on qualitative descriptions of an attorney’s work, and on truthful information about an attorney’s past cases. Additionally, one of the petitions urged the court to ban advertising by lawyers who do not maintain offices in Tennessee. Public Citizen’s comments urged the court to reject the proposed changes as an unconstitutional restriction of First Amendment rights that would deny consumers access to truthful information about legal services and skew the market in favor of established providers, and as unconstitutional economic protectionism that disadvantages lawyers based in other states. In April 2013, the court rejected all of the proposed rule changes.