Florida Bar v. Went For It Inc. Case Brief

Summary of Florida Bar v. Went For It Inc., 515 U.S. 618 (1995)

Facts: An attorney and his wholly owned lawyer referral service challenged the rule prohibiting attorneys from sending solicitation letters to injury victims or their relatives until after 30 days had elapsed.

Issue: Whether the Florida Bar rule, prohibiting lawyers from mailing solicitation letters to victims and their families for 30 days following an accident, violates the 1st and 14th Amend?

Holding: The Florida rule prohibiting lawyers from mailing solicitation letters to victims and their families for 30 days following and accident is permissible.

Procedure: D. Ct. and Ct of App held the rule unconstitutional; U.S. S. Ct. Reversed.

Rule : 1st Amendment and 14th Amendment.

Rationale: Lawyer advertising is commercial speech and is accorded a measure of 1 st Amendment protection. Commercial speech enjoys limited protection, and is subject to modes of regulatin that might be impermissible in the realm of noncommercial expression. Commercial speech like the advertising at issue here, may be regulated if the govt satisfies a test of three prongs: 1) the govt must assert a substantial interest in support of its regulation; 2) the govt must demonstrate that the restriction on commercial speech directly and materially advances that interest; and 3) the reg must be ‘narrowly drawn.’ #1 The Fl Bar has a substantial interest in protecting the privacy and tranquility of injury victims against intrusive, and unsolicited lawyers in order to curb activities that negatively affect the administration of justice. The protecting of potential client’s privacy is a substantial interest. #2 The St. must demonstrate that the harms it claims are real, and that the reg will alleviate them to a material degree. A 2 year study on the effects of direct target mailings and the public consensus leave little doubt that the harm is real, and the reg will alleviate most of the harm cause by such activity. #3 The Fl Bar is only concerned with the detrimental effects that such an ‘offense’ has on the profession. The Bar allows great latitude to attorneys in that state to advertise, and the restriction has a brief period, 30 days. Floridians have little difficulty finding an attorney when they need one.

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