Everything is going back to normal on May 29, 2020… at least as far as law firm advertising compliance is concerned. From Friday, March 20 through Thursday, May 28, the rule was suspended that require attorneys to file any advertising content with The Florida Bar for review. This action, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, was taken by the Supreme Court of Florida in response to a request from The Florida Bar.
An Administrative Order (No. AOSC20-27) updating the timeline was released by the Supreme Court of Florida on Thursday, April 9. The order stated that the rule would remain suspended until May 29. On May 29, it goes back into effect.
Ad Review Rule Suspension Ends
The rule that was suspended and is now being reinstated is Rule 4-7.19, Evaluation of Advertisements (within Chapter 4 of the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, entitled “Rules of Professional Conduct”). The rule requires that any law firm advertising be filed for review with The Florida Bar before it is used. Rule 4-7.19 specifically applies to any ads that are intended for release via the Internet, radio, TV, or print.
This step must be taken with all materials except those that only contain “tombstone” information (also called “safe harbor” or “presumptively valid” content). Also notably, this rule does NOT apply to the marketing copy of law firm or individual attorney websites.
The Florida Bar stated explicitly that law firms would only need to file copies of advertisements that were nonexempt (i.e., that are going to be distributed on May 29 or thereafter).
Some Specifics on Filing
The advertisement must be filed at least 20 days prior to its dissemination.
It should be sent to:
Ethics and Advertising Department
The Florida Bar
651 E. Jefferson St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399
A list of everything that should be filed with each advertisement in your mailing to The Florida Bar can be found in their document Filing Requirement – Rule 4-7.19(a).
The 20 days is intended to allow 15 days for review and 5 days for mailing of their response. Once the bar has a complete filing from you, the review period will begin. The response will be addressed to the applicable attorney at their address on record with the bar. If a marketer or other entity like Cyberlicious® files the advertising information with the bar, a copy of the bar’s response can be sent to that individual as well upon request.