New Jersey Supreme Court Eases Restrictions on "Super Lawyer" Advertising

This week, the New Jersey Supreme Court changed the ethics rules to allow lawyers, for the first time, to mention their inclusion in Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America, the Martindale-Hubbell AV rankings or other rating services in advertisements and other promotional materials distributed to the public.

Under the original Rule of Professional Conduct 7.1(a)(3), it was unethical for New Jersey lawyers to compare their services to those of other attorneys. Comparisons of that kind constituted “misleading advertising” under the ethics rule. However, as amended by the Supreme Court, the new ethics rule carves out an exception for ads which include the name of the rating service and a disclaimer saying, “No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court.”

In addition, the justices also indicated that mentioning a lawyer’s inclusion in Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers in America or Martindale-Hubbell AV rankings would not be considered “misleading advertising” when the rating service has made an inquiry into the attorney’s fitness, the honor was not given for a price, and the ad describes the selection methodology, or at least tells the reader where the description can be found.

The changes take effect immediately. [See Notice To The Bar.]

For the record, I was selected as a New Jersey Super Lawyer in elder law and estate planning in each year from 2007 through 2009, and I was notified today that I was again selected for inclusion as a Super Lawyer in 2010. I have also attained an “AV” rating by Martindale-Hubbell. (The meaning of an “AV” rating is explained here.) Having said that, under the Supreme Court’s amended ethics rule I must add that the Super Lawyers selection methodology can be found at, and the Martindale-Hubbell selection methodology can be found here. I previously blogged about being selected as a Super Lawyer here and here.