Belaboring the obvious

Last week, the Michigan Supreme Court released for comment a proposed amendment to Rule 7.3 of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct.

If adopted, it would affect lawyers who solicit employment from prospective clients via print, recorded and electronic advertising.

You might need to become well-acquainted with the phrase “Advertising Materials.” The proposed amendment would require those words to appear on any self-mailing brochure, pamphlet or postcard. It would also be required at the beginning and end of every written, recorded or electronic communication.

Now, I can understand why that might be a good idea for something sent through the mail. A written communication in your mailbox from a lawyer you’re not familiar might be important. Labeling a solicitation letter as “Advertising Materials” helps you make a quick decision about whether it goes into the stuff-to-be-opened pile, or directly to the trash or recycling bin.

Too bad someone isn’t thinking about a similar regulation for mailbox solicitations from insurers, credit card comanies and the like.

But commercials on the television? Come on. Anyone who’s watched the tube for more than an hour can figure out when there’s a pause in the show, and that it’s time to hit the mute button, the bathroom or the kitchen.

The alternative is to be bombarded with ads selling everything under the sun, including earnest lawyers eager to help you with your difficulties, some of which you may have never thought you had.

Requiring lawyers to label their television ads as “Advertising Materials” needlessly belabors the obvious.


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