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New York Bar May Crack Down on Blogging Lawyers 151

Posted by Zonk
from the barred-from-blogging dept.
An anonymous reader writes "While you might not guess it from watching late night TV, advertisements by lawyers are regulated by a web of regulations intended to protect potential clients from deceptive claims in such ads. Generally, these rules require lawyers to submit their ads to a review board, often with a filing fee paid with each new advertisement. The New York bar has proposed new rules which would define blogging as advertising. Should these rules be enacted, any New York lawyer who blogs on any legal topic in New York would be required to submit any new blog post to the New York Bar for review. For New York lawyers who write frequently updated blogs, this could force them to make multiple (and potentially expensive) reports to the New York Bar every single day."
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New York Bar May Crack Down on Blogging Lawyers

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  • Interesting in that it points out a class of morons. But does anyone really think this will happen, given the consequences?
    • by pegr (46683)
      The solution is simple! Just precede every post with IANAL!
      • Wouldn't that be purgery?
        (yes I know it isn't, but it could prove to be mighty inconvienent in the courtroom).
        -nB
        • by anagama (611277)
          "purgery" -- is that some kind of purgatory? An enema purging?

          Or perhaps you want to have the "u" and the "e" change places, and then replace the "g" with a "j".
  • Or... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Reverend528 (585549) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @04:49PM (#16600320) Homepage
    this could force them to make multiple (and potentially expensive) reports to the New York Bar every single day.

    Or they could just stop blogging and do the job i'm paying them $100/hr to do.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by brainboyz (114458)
      And lawyers don't have off-hours? How much do you pay your lawyers that they're on-call 24/7?

      I don't think causing problems for lawyers is very bright. And, it may be lawyers, but they still have the right to blog whatever the hell they want.
      • Re:Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Reverend528 (585549) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @05:12PM (#16600742) Homepage
        I don't think causing problems for lawyers is very bright.

        I imagine the New York Bar has some pretty good lawyers of their own.

      • Re:Or... (Score:5, Funny)

        by EatHam (597465) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @05:17PM (#16600830)
        And lawyers don't have off-hours?
        No, they bill 84 hours per day.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by cpt kangarooski (3773)
          Pft. That's just during the week. On the weekends I like to take some time off, so I only bill 60 hours a day.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by xero91 (999293)
      $100/hr??? 99% of my clients are lawyers and they regularly bill upwards of $300/hr
      • by acidrain (35064)

        $100/hr??? 99% of my clients are lawyers and they regularly bill upwards of $300/hr

        Of all the people to attempt to deprive of their rights, lawyers would be right at the bottom of my list. They seem quite well equipped to defend themselves.

        So yeah, I'm not remotely worried about this. If Paypal wanted to prevent homeless people from asking for spare change via Paypal over the internet, then I guess I'd take even that a little more seriously.

        • by Sigma 7 (266129)

          Of all the people to attempt to deprive of their rights, lawyers would be right at the bottom of my list. They seem quite well equipped to defend themselves.

          They are only equipped to deal with threats within the system. As soon as you change the system (e.g. switch to Despotism), lawyers instantly become obsolete since the law has changed overnight. They can retrain themselves, but it does not change the fact that law is on a whim of a despot.

          Also, unless you are willing to issue firearms and bulletproof

          • by ultranova (717540)

            Naturally, the assassin has a $2 million bond set for bail - but that's a post-incident defence rather than an active defence.

            So basically, in America you can commit a murder (or try to) and then buy your way free. It does seem yet another aspect of US legal system makes mockery of equality before law...

    • by mirio (225059)
      Funny story time:

      When I was in college I worked at a mom and pop PC store. Mom and pop we're unfortunately going through a terrible divorce that involved the insurance saleswoman next door. My boss got a bill from his lawyer one day and called me into his office. His lawyer had a 30 minute minimum and billed him 30 minutes each for 1 or 2 minute phone calls. He was pissed. Anyway, the divorce was finalized and several months later his lawyer started calling with PC problems. I was instructed to carefu
  • one must also take into account this as well http://www.easy-poll.com/sonda.vote.2.6979/ [easy-poll.com]
  • The New York bar has proposed new rules which would define blogging as advertising.

    Yeah, I'm tired of searching out Lawyer's blogs to see who has the most annoying 1-800-ASK-____ phone number because late night TV doesn't show me enough of them.

  • Too bad for Newyorkcountrylawyer [slashdot.org] and his blog [blogspot.com].

    I wonder if slashdot interviews would count?

    • tddoog wrote:

      "Too bad for Newyorkcountrylawyer and his blog. I wonder if slashdot interviews would count?"


      If those rules go into effect, both of my blogs, Recording Industry vs. The People [blogspot.com], and Ohio Election Fraud (formerly "Fairness") [blogspot.com], along with my web sites, info.riaalawsuits.us [riaalawsuits.us] and Ohio Election 2004 [ohioelection2004.com] would be taken down, as it would be far too costly and time consuming to comply with the new rules. See my collection of articles on New York's rules and the impact they would have on lawyer blogs here [blogspot.com]j.

      Fortunately, though, the various bar associations and other lawyer groups are very concerned about the rules, and are putting in detailed comments explaining how the proposed rules are too overbroad. And the Appellate Divisions have postponed the proposed effective dates, in order to give the legal community and the public at large more time to comment.

      Arguably my entire membership in Slashdot would indeed count, since my profile identifies me. It would of course be impossible to comply with those rules, so I might just have to stop participating in Slashdot, which for me would be sad indeed. I have really come to enjoy it here.

      Blogs by lawyers are a pretty new thing, but I think they have made a significant contribution. I think it would be a shame if we had to stop blogging just because we're lawyers.

      I don't think the proposed rules will be passed in that form, so I'm not too worried.

      For those of you who haven't seen the proposed rules, they're posted here [nycourts.gov].
      • by debrain (29228)
        If those rules go into effect, both of my blogs, Recording Industry vs. The People, and Ohio Election Fraud (formerly "Fairness"), along with my web sites, info.riaalawsuits.us and Ohio Election 2004 would be taken down, as it would be far too costly and time consuming to comply with the new rules. See my collection of articles on New York's rules and the impact they would have on lawyer blogs herej.

        Which rules would you be violating?
        • In order to comply with the rules I would have to label every page an "advertisement", which they are not, and I would have to file copies of each and every page every day. I couldn't afford the time and money it would take.
          • by debrain (29228)
            Sorry if I was unclear. If I am to send my comments to the NYS bar, to which rule would I refer to as imposing this requirement, please?
            • These are the rules you would be referring to. Proposed amendments to Rules
              1200-1
              1200-5-a
              1200-6
              1200-7
              1200-8
              http://www.nycourts.gov/rules/proposedamendments.s html [nycourts.gov]
              • by debrain (29228)
                Thank you for the reference. I've read the proposed amendments. However, I have not found any reference to the threat you are speaking of. Could you please refer to (or quote) a section in the proposed amendments that would require you to label your blog as advertisement and require reporting to the NYS bar?
      • by Reziac (43301) *
        I'd be very sad to see your blogs go away.. they're a valuable resource. If you're not careful, you'll give lawyers a good name :)

        [Actually, most of the lawyers I know are good people.]

        I am wondering if this ruling sticks, if it could be extended to affect sites like GrokLaw, or anyone directly employed by a lawyer (your employees aren't allowed to "advertise" by collaring folks on the street either, right?)

        ISTM all that's really needed is a boilerplate disclaimer that the blog is a personal endeavour and i
        • I'm not getting too much into the details because I don't think the rule revisions in their present format are going anywhere. See the comments [riaalawsuits.us] of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. I'm sure the rule revision will be much, much narrower than what they first proposed.
          • by Reziac (43301) *
            I do hope you're right. Rather strange that it's so fuzzy-broad to begin with, unless there was some other agenda behind it.

            • I think the reason it was so fuzzy-broad was that the authors were not sufficiently conversant with the technology to understand what a burden it would be on legitimate discussion. I think there was 'another agenda' in the sense that the draftsmen were probably overreacting to a couple of annoying and ianppropriate things they'd seen, and going after them with a shotgun instead of something more targeted to the specific problems.
              • by Reziac (43301) *
                Sounds like the way it probably was, yeah... a bit of "shut that guy up" coupled with non-techies hunting flies with howitzers.

                Would there be any problem with simply applying the same standards you're held to in print media?

                • No there wouldn't be any problem applying the same standards as would be applied to print media.
                  • by Reziac (43301) *
                    Well then! We need only convince them that blogs are merely ordinary magazines, printed with extremely poor-quality ink. :)

                    Actually, that might make a reasonable argument: print out the blog on the one hand, and have the online version onscreen on the other, and ask them to define the practical difference: "How does this text differ from that text? It doesn't? Horrors!!"

  • Missing the point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpeedBump0619 (324581) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @04:55PM (#16600452)
    For New York lawyers who write frequently updated blogs, this could force them to make multiple (and potentially expensive) reports to the New York Bar every single day.

    Don't be absurd. It won't force them to report more, it will force them not to update their web logs, which is, no doubt, the real point.
  • Money Grubbing Lawyers?

    "Generally, these rules require lawyers to submit their ads to a review board, often with a filing fee paid with each new advertisement."

  • Some blogging... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @04:58PM (#16600510)
    ...is certainly akin to advertising, but some is more akin to writing op-ed pieces for a newspaper and doing commentary in other media, or just writing a book (but that it is published incrementally.)

    Seems to me it makes more sense to regulate based on the content than the medium, in this case, but then, I'm not a member of the NY Bar.
  • by also-rr (980579) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @04:58PM (#16600518) Homepage
    There are an insane number of lawyers in New York. If 1% of them sent in a blog post check request every day for a week you probably wouldn't be able to stand in the bar associations hall and USPS would be profitable again. They might even be able to put some of those blue mailboxes back on the streets again.
  • Misleading article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nosredna (672587) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @05:02PM (#16600556)
    Having read through the rule changes, this seems to be limited to actual solicitation for services. Legal commentary or discussion of legal issues isn't anywhere in this, that I could see.

    Basically, it applies the limitations currently in place for print and television ads to internet ads as well, which is a reasonable step to take... regulate all advertising, or regulate none.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kupek (75469)
      From the proposed rules:


      (k) "Advertisement" means any public communication made by or on behalf of a lawyer
      or law firm about a lawyer or law firm, or about a lawyer's or law firm's services.
      I think it's reasonable to call a lawyer's blog a public communication made by that lawyer about that lawyer. And that fits the proposed definition of advertisement. That seems to be a broad definition of advertising.
    • You have not read the rules correctly. It is nowhere limited to actual solicitation for services. It applies to all electronic communications which are "about a lawyer" and "by a lawyer", which would probably apply to all law firm web sites, internet and email newsletters, and to any legal blog where the lawyer actually identifies himself. If you think there is a section restricting the rules to "actual solicitation of services" please point to that section. Here are the rules:

      http://www.nycourts.gov/rul [nycourts.gov]
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @05:10PM (#16600710) Journal
    Did anyone else see this headline and think it was talking about some bar-room brawl aimed at lawyers that spread all over new york, then want to join in? Pass the bud and punch another lawyer!!
  • Am I the only one... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kelson (129150) * on Thursday October 26, 2006 @05:10PM (#16600724) Homepage Journal
    ...who read the headline, and immediately thought that some bar in New York was having problems with lawyers taking up the tables with their laptops, blogging away all night and taking the space away from paying patrons?
    • Almost, only I thought about lawyers wardriving on the open wireless accesspoint in the bar.
      Damn those people, crashing into my right to get drunk and surf for porn with the resident old drunk geezer.
  • Help me! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @05:28PM (#16601026)
    I want to care about lawyers getting screwed but I'm too busy getting giddy over the thought of it.
    • by mgblst (80109)
      Lawyers are like traffic, nobody really thought about them when designing the sytem, but they are inherent because of the way the system was designed. Unlike traffic, they have a lobby group fighting for their survival (the Bar).
  • by vinn01 (178295) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @05:36PM (#16601130)
    Information flowing without our control! The horror.

    -Nothing to see here, move along. You've seen this story before.
  • "For New York lawyers who write frequently updated blogs, this could force them to make multiple (and potentially expensive) reports to the New York Bar every single day."

    Yes that and the mounting server costs as he is slashdotted to oblivion.

  • Who would it affect? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Viper Daimao (911947) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @05:40PM (#16601180) Journal
    For New York lawyers who write frequently updated blogs [blogspot.com], this could force them to make multiple (and potentially expensive) reports to the New York Bar every single day."

    I'm no expert on Greenwald, but doesn't he live in Brazil or something? Would this still affect him? Is he still practicing NY law from another country? Or is it Thomas Ellers that live in NY while Greenwald lives in Brazil?
  • ...for the Bob Loblaw Law Blog [chicagotribune.com]
  • Odd (Score:4, Insightful)

    by debrain (29228) on Thursday October 26, 2006 @05:46PM (#16601266) Journal
    IIANYL, and this strikes me as a red herring. I've read through this, and the gist of the amendments have to deal with solicitations and advertisements as applied to modern technology. I can't read the arguments on the second link, but there are two things that were immediately clear from reading the amendments. First, they are narrowly construed to apply only to solicitation and advertisement, not publications in general. Second, it is in large part a technological amendment, to deal with new methods of advertisements like pop-up advertisements.

    The first is the relevant part. I don't, on the face of it, see how this would preclude blogging. It would prevent blogging as a form of advertisement, but that's the very point of the restrictions on professional attorney and counselor publications. Advertisements for lawyers are permitted insofar, but only insofar, as the advertisement aids the public's ability to make an informed decision. Extensions of that are generally barred as being potentially misleading.

    The second comment is relevant because it shows that they are technologically savvy. This gives some hope that even if this comes into force and causes problems, they will be conscious of the problems it creates and amend it appropriately. Incidentally, before this amendment, by interpretation, there appears to be some technical requirement to have every partner's name in the law firm's domain name.

    Again, though, I haven't read the criticisms, and I've only given it a once-over. I don't pretend to be defending the NY bar; I don't know the arguments against it. I've just read through it and this is all I could come up with. If there is something there that unduly inhibits an attorney or counselor-at-law's ability to publish online, I would be interested in seeing that amended before it goes into force. If someone points a good argument out to me, I'll be sure to send along my comments, as a member of the bar.

    The only criticism I could see was an extraterritorial clause which makes the law apply to out-of-NY lawyers who solicit or advertise their services in NY. But that seems reasonable, given the nexus between the out-of-NY lawyers and their purported NY services, and is totally unrelated to this slashdot article.
  • Ha! (Score:2, Funny)

    by ballwall (629887)
    Finally, a legal situation where lawyers lose. Karma's a bitch.

    Usually they're the only ones that come out ahead...
    • Finally, a legal situation where lawyers lose.
      ...to other lawyers. Which, really, isn't all that uncommon. Legal situations where lawyers lose and nonlawyers win are less common.
  • So, did anyone else read the headline and think that this was about a bar cracking down on a bunch of lawyers sitting around on their laptops on a free wifi connection and using up all their bandwidth? I suspect the story might be a bit more interesting if the did?
  • Why censor lawyers? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by belmolis (702863) <billposerNO@SPAMalum.mit.edu> on Thursday October 26, 2006 @07:58PM (#16602908) Homepage

    While limitations on advertising by lawyers have been around for a long time, they seem to have their roots in in pre-democratic times, when legal representation was to available to the wealthy if at all and the very practice of law was considered a somewhat questionable activity that had to be strictly regulated in order to be kept respectable. I fail to see any justification for restrictions on the speech of lawyers different from those that apply to everyone else. Lawyers would still be deterred from false advertising and libel by the existing laws of general application. Is there any good reason that censorship by the bar associations should not be eliminated?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      While limitations on advertising by lawyers have been around for a long time, they seem to have their roots in in pre-democratic times, when [...] the very practice of law was considered a somewhat questionable activity that had to be strictly regulated in order to be kept respectable.

      The practice of law is still widely considered a somewhat questionable activity (hence the regard many people have for lawyers), and it is still one that needs to be strictly regulated (both in the view of nonlawyers and tha

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Lawyers who complain about corruption in the courts often use blogs to expose it.

    Look at Barbara Johnson's site http://www.falseallegations.com/ [falseallegations.com]

    The bar association doesn't like it when lawyers start publicizing problems in their courts.

    Thus, the Massachusetts bar is seeking to disbar Barbara Johnson and shut down her site.
  • >> The New York bar has proposed new rules which would define blogging as advertising.

    Jeez, you go somewhere for a quiet drink and look what happens.
  • The Association of the Bar of the City of New York [nycbar.org] has pointed out the First Amendment problems with the proposed rules [nycourts.gov] and suggested detailed changes [riaalawsuits.us] (pdf file) in them.

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