Florida Bar’s BOG considers rules prohibiting misleading ad words and allowing credit pass through
Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss the Board of Governor’s review of potential revisions to Florida Bar Rules 4-7.13, which would prohibit misleading words and phrases in Google ad words, and revisions to Florida Bar Rule 4-1.5(h), which would permit lawyers to charg
Summary of Proposed Rule RevisionsThe Bar Board of Governor*s backup materials regarding proposed revised Bar Rule 4-1.5(h) is also attached, which indicate that the basis for the proposed rule change is a potential allegation of an improper restraint of trade in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
The Bar*s recent summaries of the proposed rule revisions and their status in the BOG review process are below.
PROPOSED ADVERTISING RULE CHANGES
The Board Review Committee on Professional Ethics will be considering a request for a rule amendment (to Rule 4-7.13) that would state it is inherently misleading or deceptive for a lawyer to intentionally use, or arrange for the use of, the name of a lawyer not in the same firm or the name of another law firm as words or phrases that trigger the display of the lawyer*s advertising on the Internet or other media, including directly or through a group advertising program. For example, the proposal would ban the purchase of another lawyer*s name in Google ad words. The Board*s Citizens Advisory Committee also supports the amendment, stating that the practice is misleading, particularly to vulnerable consumers.
FINAL ACTION ON CREDIT SERVICE CHARGES
The Board will be taking final action on a proposed rule change that would delete the current prohibition against charging a service charge for client*s use of a credit plan and allow lawyers to charge the actual charge imposed on the lawyer by the credit plan. Rule 4-1.5(h) currently permits lawyers to accept credit cards to pay for fees and costs, but prohibits lawyers from charging the client the credit card fee charged to the lawyer as a vendor.
Bottom LineBottom line: Proposed revised Rule 4-7.13, which would prohibit misleading Google ad words, would be consistent with other jurisdictions that have considered the issue. Proposed revised Rule 4-1.5(h), which would permit a lawyer to require the client to pay the actual credit card charges would reverse the prior rule, which specifically prohibited requiring the client to pay such merchant charges.