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Justices bar Arizona lawyer due to advertising rule violations

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Out-of-state attorneys have received a fresh warning from the Indiana Supreme Court, one that specifically reiterates that everyone should know this state’s attorney advertising rules when promoting oneself as being “specialized” in a particular area of law or practicing with a “national firm.”

An Arizona lawyer who does national advertising spots received that warning in the form of a disciplinary action today, one that indefinitely bars him from practicing inside Indiana in any capacity, including temporary admission and soliciting clients.

The per curiam ruling came in the Matter of Joshua S. Parilman, No. 98S00-1012-DI-681, which involves a radio advertisement from the spring of 2010.

Hoosier radio stations broadcast an advertisement inviting listeners who might have been involved in auto accidents to contact Joshua Parilman, who practices in Arizona but isn’t licensed in Indiana. The advertisement said in part that, “Get protected with a national law firm that specializes in automobile accidents to protect your rights and stand up for you and your family.”

At least two Indiana residents responded to the ad, according to the Supreme Court ruling.

The justices noted that the lawyer’s only office is located in Phoenix and he’s not part of a national firm. He is not certified as a specialist in any field by Indiana or Arizona — neither state certifies lawyers in the area of “automobile accidents” as the ad claims. That was a violation of five Professional Conduct rules: 5.5(b)(2) that prohibits falsely representing that an attorney is admitted to practice in Indiana; 7.2(b) on using a public communication containing false, misleading, or deceptive statements; 7.2(c)(4) on making a statement about specialization when not authorized; 7.2(c)(6) on making statements that contain a representation or implication that would likely be misunderstood; and 7.4 on making a statement about specialization when not authorized.

Citing Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 30 on certification of attorney specialists, the justices noted that one of the purposes of that rule is to assure that lawyers making those claims are competent in a field of law and have met certain criteria showing that.

“An assertion by an attorney to be ‘specialized’ outside the narrow scope of this rule is contrary to the purpose of this rule and misleading,” the court wrote. “Similarly misleading is a statement to Indiana residents that an attorney is with a ‘national firm’ when the attorney’s only office is in a different state. All attorneys, including those from other states, are obligated to know and comply with this state’s ethical standards when advertising legal services to Indiana residents, whether by individualized contact, mass media, or anything in-between.”

Finding that Parilman has no disciplinary history and has cooperated with the Disciplinary Commission, the court approved the agreement the parties had reached about Parilman’s indefinite bar from Indiana practice. The sanction is similar to what other out-of-state attorneys have received in the past, and the court cited Matter of Coale, 775 N.E.2d 1079, 1085 (Ind. 2002).
 

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