Bates v. State Bar of Arizona Case Brief

Summary of Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977)

Facts: Two Arizona attorneys opened a legal clinic for low income people. Seeking to increase their volume of business they ran a newspaper ad. The State Bar tried to discipline them and they claimed the prohibition violated the Sherman Act and the 1st Amendment’s free speech clause, as it applied to the state through the 14th Amendment.

Issue: Whether the State Bar’s ban on attorney advertising violated the attorney’s right to free, commercial speech, where the advertisement only lists specific prices for routine services?

Holding: Yes, the flow of such information may not be restrained, and the present application of the disciplinary rule against attorney advertising violates the 1st Amendment.

Procedure: Judgement of S. Ct. of AZ is affirmed in part and reversed in part by S.Ct.

Rule : 1st Amendment and 14th Amendment.

Rationale: The Sherman Act does not apply to restraint of trade that is conceived and supervised by a state government. If the Commercial basis of the atty-client relationship is to be promptly disclosed on ethical grounds, once the client is in the office, it seems inconsistent to condemn the candid revelation of the same information before he arrives. Habit and tradition are not in themselves an adequate answer to a constitutional challenge, and therefore the HX foundation has crumbled. The belief that legal services are so unique that fixed rates cannot be established is refuted by the record, the State Bar sponsors a program where attorneys perform services like those advertised at standardized rates. The prohibition of advertising serves only to restrict information that flows to consumers. Advertising is the traditional means for a supplier to inform a potential purchaser of the availability and terms of exchange. The disciplinary rule at issue likely has served to burden access to legal services. Restraints on advertising are an ineffective way of determining shoddy work. An atty who is inclined to cut quality will do so regardless of the rule on advertising. Most lawyers will behave as they always have: They will abide by their oaths. Advertising by attys may not be subjected to blanket suppression. Advertising that is false, misleading, illegal, or deceptive is subject to restraint, and there may be reasonable restrictions on the time, manner, and place of advertising.

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