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Albany, N.Y.-Sweeping new restrictions on attorney advertising are apparently on the horizon as the four presiding justices of New York’s intermediate appellate courts last week agreed on comprehensive reforms of the disciplinary rules as they relate to lawyer solicitations. The proposed new rules are so expansive and cover so many angles -from soliciting mass tort clients to sponsoring pop-up Internet ads to using celebrity voiceovers-that the justices have taken the unusual step of ordering a 90-day public comment period before the disciplinary standards take effect. That period runs until Sept. 15, with the rules slated to take effect on Nov. 1. The new rules are posted on the court’s Web site at www.nycourts.gov/ rules. Under the reform proposals embraced last week, lawyers would be barred from soliciting mass tort clients within 30 days of a disaster, unless a filing requirement makes earlier contact critical. The rules also would be updated to encompass computer and Internet-based ads. Significant restrictions would be imposed on the use of fictionalization, and lawyers would be banned from using nicknames or monikers -such as “heavy hitter” or “dream team”-that imply an ability to obtain results. Additionally, lawyers would face new requirements for filing and retaining their advertisements, which would be subject to review by grievance committees. And the judiciary would specifically exert jurisdiction over out-of-state attorneys advertising in New York. Impact bolstered The proposed reforms in many ways mirror recommendations submitted several months ago by the New York State Bar Association. However, while the presiding justices generally endorsed the state bar’s proposals, they also bolstered the impact of those reforms by including the new restrictions directly in the disciplinary rules rather than in the commentary to those rules. Significantly, the new rules were formulated by the presiding justices not in their capacity as members of the Administrative Board, which sets statewide policy in conjunction with the Office of Court Administration, but in their role as overseers of the disciplinary process in their respective judicial departments. If ultimately enacted, the joint rules would have the full force of a disciplinary mandate. They were adopted last week when presiding justices John T. Buckley (1st Department), A. Gail Prudenti (2d Department), Anthony V. Cardona (3d Department) and Eugene F. Pigott Jr. (4th Department) met in New York City.

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