Louisiana's Regulation of Internet Speech By Attorneys Declared Unconstitutional

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On Monday, a federal judge declared Louisiana's regluation of Internet advertisements by attorneys to be an unconstitutional restriction of speech. The challenge was brought by lawyer Scott Wolfe Jr., who advertises his practice exclusively online through blogs and social networks.

Louisiana didn't have a reason to regulate Internet ads, and they didn't understand how attorneys actually use the Internet to advertise

On Monday, federal Judge Martin Feldman declared unconstitutional Louisiana's new regulations of attorney advertising on the Internet.

Scott Wolfe Jr. and Wolfe Law Group, who practice construction law in New Orleans, Louisiana, challenged the new lawyer advertising regulations as they applied to the Internet. Wolfe argued the regulations failed to consider the differences between television and Internet advertising, and regulated Internet ads without a need.

"Louisiana didn't have a reason to regulate Internet ads, and they didn't understand how attorneys actually use the Internet to advertise," Wolfe said. "As a result, the rules were incompatible with the realities of Internet advertising."

The United States Louisiana Eastern District Court agreed, stating in its 39-page opinion that "the Internet presents unique issues related to advertising, which the State simply failed to consider in formulating this Rule."

"This is a very important ruling," Wolfe adds. "The court not only noted that states must have a reason to regulate Internet speech, but it also recognized that the Internet media is different from broadcast media, and is entitled to unique protection."

Certain other components of the new Louisiana lawyer advertising regulations were upheld, including restrictions on ads that promise results, portray a judge or jury or contain a celebrity endorsement.

While these regulations were upheld, the court noted that the "same Rules as those developed for television, radio and print ads" could not be simply applied to Internet advertising. Judge Feldman based this on a finding that "Internet advertising differs significantly from advertising in traditional media."

Wolfe, who advertises exclusively online, argued that if the rules took effect an attorney's participation in legal blogs and social networking sites would be unreasonably restricted. Further, Wolfe argued that Google ad campaigns could costs thousands in administrative evaluation fees.

Wolfe's lawsuit was filed in the United States Eastern District Court of Louisiana, docket number 08-4994. Read a copy of Judge Feldman's order at JDSupra. The plaintiffs were represented by Ernest Svenson of the Svenson Law Firm, and pro-se by Wolfe Law Group.

For additional information on the news that is the subject of this release, contact Jessica Reiser or visit Wolfe Law Group's online media center: http://media.wolfelaw.com.

About Wolfe Law Group
Wolfe Law Group is a construction law practice with offices in Seattle, Washington and New Orleans, Louisiana. The firm publishes a blog on Louisiana and Washington construction law titled the Construction Law Monitor, and prides itself on thinking different in the legal profession.


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Jessica Reiser
Wolfe Law Group LLC
504-894-9653 ext. 101
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Scott Wolfe Jr
Wolfe Law Group LLC
504-894-9653 ext. 105
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