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Lawyer advertising.

Recently, Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley filed a federal lawsuit in Tallahassee, suing The Florida Bar and claiming that the Bar's ethics rules restricting law firm website content and posting on blogs was an unconstitutional infringement on their First Amendment rights.

As a practicing attorney for more than 30 years and a staunch defender of the First Amendment, not only do I support the law firm, but also find these rules to be archaic, arbitrary, and an affront to the legal profession.

Attorneys are the protectors of our justice system and our democracy. Courts have held that the First Amendment is the preeminent amendment. Yet, The Florida Bar mandates that lawyers give up those rights to speech and press when it comes to advertising, websites, and blogging that other citizens enjoy. How can it be that those who are schooled to protect freedoms enjoy fewer freedoms than others?

The age-old argument that attorney advertising is undignified or that scrupulous adherence to rigid but nebulous Bar rules somehow protects the public must give way to constitutional freedoms. Attorneys should push to extend freedoms, not be stifled in our own exercise of the rights we are sworn to protect.

Daniel Aaronson Chair emeritus and immediate past president of the First Amendment Lawyers Association Ft. Lauderdale
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Aaronson, Daniel
Publication:Florida Bar News
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Jan 15, 2014
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