September 20, 2016 Top Story

"Super Lawyers" Beware

State ethics committee cracking down on comparative attorney advertising

Lauren M. Gregory

An ethics opinion condemning attorney accolades based on "popularity contents" rather than recipients' true merit has stirred debate over the ways in which lawyers should be permitted to promote themselves to potential clients. Contextual meritorious information is now required under some states' ethics rules, most recently New Jersey. Some ABA Section of Litigation leaders caution that blanket "Superlawyer" type advertisements could be viewed as misleading to potential clients if not presented with enough explanatory context.

New Jersey "Notice to the Bar" Warns Lawyers

The New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Attorney Advertising has published a Notice to the Bar in response to "numerous grievances regarding attorney advertising of awards, honors, and accolades that compare a lawyer's services to other lawyers' services." The Committee warns that those who wish to advertise themselves as recipients of awards such as "Super Lawyers, " "Rising Stars," "Best Lawyers," "Superior Attorney," "Leading Lawyer," and "Top-Rated Counsel," may do so "only when the basis for the comparison can be verified and the organization has made adequate inquiry into the fitness of the individual lawyer."

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