Rule changes miss important update

October 15, 2010
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I’m happy that Indiana has finally entered the 21st century with its lawyer advertising rules and modernized the approach. The last time the rules had been touched, I was watching cartoons on Saturday mornings. That’s a long time ago.

While the rules touch on important subjects, including “ambulance chasers,” they don’t address a pressing issue with lawyers. There isn’t a review panel in place right now for lawyer advertising. Attorneys who want to advertise know what the guidelines are, but if they have questions, there’s no guarantee they’ll get an answer from the Disciplinary Commission.

A 2008 article in Indiana Lawyer about this topic points to inconsistencies in handling advertising that violates Rules of Professional Conduct. One way to fix this would be to create a review system for pre-approval of ads, but that’s never gotten steam. Research showed expenses ranged from $200,000 to $600,000 for this type of system. In a cash-strapped time, it’s not seen as a high priority.

That’s unfortunate because a lawyer’s credibility is on the line. Any lawyer that wants to advertise should educate himself or herself on the applicable rules and seek answers if they are unsure of something. It’s a shame that the commission that regulates the advertising can’t provide concrete answers on advertising on a consistent basis. While there may be some attorneys trying to skirt the line with their advertising, others appear to just make genuine mistakes. And if you’re caught breaking the rules, you’ll most likely be disciplined.

Even $200,000 right now is too much to spend, but if the Supreme Court or Indiana State Bar Association or other organization can come up with a way to fund a review system for pre-approval of lawyer advertising, I think it’s a good step to take.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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