Hello and welcome to this Ethics Alert update blog which will discuss the recent decision of the Florida Bar’s Board of Governors to uphold the Standing Committee on Advertising’s opinion that solo lawyers may use plural nouns and refer to themselves as “we”, “us” and “our” in advertisements.
As I reported in an earlier Ethics Alert, The Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Advertising (SCA) voted in June 2013 to issue an opinion finding that solo lawyers are permitted use plural nouns to describe the lawyer’s practice. According to a recent Florida Bar News article, the Bar’s Board of Governors (BOG) met in July and declined to overturn the opinion of the SCA that a solo practitioner is permitted to use plural pronouns in his or her advertising.
The BOG’s decision is contrary to previous votes by the BOG stating that it was misleading under the Florida Bar advertising rules for sole practitioners to use plural pronouns in advertisements. The majority of the BOG agreed with the SCA that it was not misleading to use “we,” “us,” or “our” since it did not imply there was more than one licensed Bar member in the firm. The BOG Review Committee on Professional Ethics had voted to overturn the SCA opinion; however, the full BOG rejected the committee’s position.
Bottom line: The BOG vote supports and confirms the recent SCA opinion that lawyers who are sole practitioners may use plural nouns such as “we”, “us”, and “our” in advertisements and reverses the long term precedent prohibiting such words.
Be careful out there!
Disclaimer: this e-mail does not contain any legal advice and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431
Clearwater, Florida 33759
Office (727) 799-1688
Fax (727) 799-1670
Unbelievable that this amount of time, energy and resources has been devoted to such a seemingly meaningless issue. We are part of a profession that in the eyes of the general public has lost all credibility, and with all due respect to used cars salesmen, is now considered far below the standing of a used care salesmen when it comes to ethics and honesty. And so what does our esteemed Bar concentrate on? The issue of whether a sole practitioner is misleading the public by referring to one’s self as “we”. As I’ve stated on this blog before, as a sole practitioner I am striving each day just to keep the doors of my law office open as I deal with this economic morass and the overabundance of attorneys in the State of Florida. Can’t the Bar spend a little more time trying to help the sole practitioner out rather then constantly pushing us closer and closer to extinction with more and more requirements and expenses?
Tim, thanks for your comment. I am not sure how much time, energy, and resources were expended by the Bar committee and BOG, which is made up of all volunteers; however, the one thing we can do as lawyers is be as ethical and honest as possible and encourage other lawyers to do the same. I am also a sole practitioner and understand the pressures and stress of same. By the way, the LOMAS section of the Bar’s website, https://www.floridabar.org has many tools to help solos like you. Hang in there.