“Super Lawyers” might violate attorney professional conduct rules

Recently, New Jersey.s Committee on Attorney Advertising ruled that advertising done by lawyers in “New Jersey Super Lawyers” violates attorney professional conduct rules. New Jersey is the first state to make such a rule about “Super Lawyers”.

The Super Lawyers publication is done in 21 states, and is clearly labeled as an advertising supplement by the publishers. Approximately 5% of a state’s attorneys are selected for inclusion in the publication.

The basis for New Jersey’s ruling is that the designation of “Super Lawyer” could give a buyer of legal services a false impression. Such a designation is considered to be “comparative” which is prohibited in lawyer advertising. That is, the publication could wrongly lead a consumer to believe that an attorney in this publication is better than one who is not.

The committee handing down the ruling believed that the publishers don’t provide enough information on the methodology used to award the Super Lawyer designation. The committee believes that the rankings are arbitrary. The publisher, however says that there is extensive research that goes into the awarding of the title.

The state cannot prevent the publication from being published and distributed in New Jersey, however, lawyers who advertise in the publication could be subject to sanctions. The company that puts out the publication is appealing the ruling.