Quote of the Day - You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements.
This isn't the first time the Kentucky Bar Association has been in dutch. In fact, the issue of commercial speech and attorney advertising is a bit mixed up, with the Supreme Court typically allowing the free flow of information to the public.
That's what blawgs do.
Sure, blawgs are advertising, but then again, so is the Kentucky Bar Association website on lawyer advertising. Do they pay a $50.00 fee for their webpage? l bet Ben Cowgill would take their check if they want him to ensure it protects the public.
Seriously, though, I agree that we should Act Like Lawyers, Dammit!. If you don't want to write a separate letter, at a minimum, print out your blawgpost on the subject of lawyer advertising, and send it here:
Attorneys' Advertising Commission Paralegal
Kentucky Bar Association
514 West Main Street
Frankfort, KY 40601-1883
or just click on Lori McMakin's email address, and send it in.
But what about the rationale of commercial speech vs. free speech? Where do lawyer's blogs fall on that slippery slope? Is there even a difference between the two? Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his concurring opinion in 44 Liquormart, Inc. v. Rhode Island: “I do not see a philosophical or historical basis for asserting that ‘commercial’ speech is of ‘lower value’ than ‘noncommercial’ speech. Indeed, some historical materials suggest to the contrary.”
When I first said that blawgs are advertising, I meant it in the broadest sense of the word, and frankly, under my definition, everything is advertising. A minister, rabbi, priest or shaman could use blue sky as an advertisement for the supreme being. But, let's be a bit more practical.
Is the Kentucky Bar Association's request for donations to its foundation advertising? Surely it is. But it's also commercial speech. The Kentucky Bar Association is trying to convince Kentuckians that the entire Bar Association cares about the regular guy. Who regulates the Bar?
The Supreme Court has struck down many restrictions on commercial speech, and essentially, commercial speech is free speech. The Kentucky Bar Association may want to look closely at its own actions before pointing out the speck in Ben Cowgill's eye, if it's even a speck. Ben, like the rest of the blawgers across the country, are entitled to speak freely on weblogs, just like they can speak freely in self-published books.
The web is just a little hard to keep up with.