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Iowa Law Review

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Since the Supreme Court held the prohibition of lawyer advertising unconstitutional in Bates v. State Bar of Arizonal American lawyers have engaged in heated debate over the appropriateness of advertising for their profession. Although the debate over lawyer advertising-- especially as it applies to mass media-- raises relatively new issues for the profession, the concerns at the heart of the debate are the oldest that lawyers as a profession face. Lawyer advertising at its core is concerned with "professionalism": how lawyers, as an organized profession, ought to deliver legal service to the public. Immediately following Bates, most state bar associations proceeded to regulate false and misleading advertisements. Recently, however, concern with the image of lawyers has prompted many states to commence a "second wave" of attorney advertising regulation. Led by new bar rules in Iowa and Florida, several states, through regulation, have attempted to supress "undignified," "tasteless," and "sleazy" lawyer ads. Some have argued that lawyer advertisements have become the "graven image" of the profession. Indeed, state bar associations-in the spirit of a modern day Moses-often have acted through regulation to curtail or suppress the harsh imagery of lawyers who advertise. Recent regulation has focused particularly on mass media advertising, disclaimers, and maintaining professional "dignity" in messages to the public. Apart from raising several constitutional questions, this second wave reveals a fundamental tension which underlies the legal profession: Can lawyers make their services widely available to the public while sustaining a high level of quality? Why is the advertising of legal services at odds with sustaining minimal quality delivery of legal services? Further, does the legal profession's perception of "dignity" necessarily equate to quality of legal service?

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