On January 1, 2021, an act regulating Louisiana lawyer advertising became law. See La. Rev. Stat. Section 37:223. The new law provides that any lawyer advertisement that includes the monetary amount of a settlement or judgment must disclose the fees paid to the lawyer from the gross amount recovered. Moreover, the new law requires the advertising lawyer to print the fee amount in a font size no smaller than half the size of the largest font size used in the ad. As to ads broadcast orally, the law requires a lawyer’s fee disclosure to be audible, intelligible, and presented with equal prominence as the other parts of the advertisement. Finally, the new statute states that the Supreme Court “may adopt rules as necessary to implement and enforce the provisions of this Section.” Id.
Do Advertising Lawyers Now Need to Comply with This Statute?
While the new law is clear, it is uncertain whether Louisiana lawyers must now comply with the statute.
The new statute provides for no penalties and for no means of enforcement. Instead, it simply authorizes the Louisiana Supreme Court to “adopt rules as necessary to implement and enforce the provisions” of this new law. Id. Section 223(C). The Louisiana Supreme Court of Louisiana, however, needs no legislative authorization to do anything with regard to regulating lawyers. Among the branches of state government, it has the “exclusive and plenary power to define and regulate all facets of the practice of law.” See La. Sup. Ct. Rule XXXVII (citing Bester v. Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions, 2000-1360 (La. 2/21/01), 779 So.2d 1360; Succession of Wallace, 574 So.2d 348 (La. 1991)); see also La. Const. Art. V, sec. 5(B) (granting the court “exclusive original jurisdiction of disciplinary proceedings against a member of the bar”).
Nevertheless, the Louisiana Supreme Court is well aware of the legislature’s concerns about lawyer advertising. Indeed, the court has its own concerns. For those reasons, it has formed an ad hoc committee to consider new lawyer advertising regulations–including regulations that will “implement and enforce” the principles set forth in Revised Statutes section 37:223. Until the court amends the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct, it is highly unlikely that ODC will make any effort to discipline Louisiana lawyers for “noncompliance” with this new legislation.