When Colgate started marketing toothpaste in Spanish speaking counties, it faced a little adversity because the word Colgate sounded like a Spanish word that translated go hang yourself. Now, it’s no problem because they have marketed enough that people associate Colgate… as a toothpaste. Good marketing!
In 1972, John Bates and Van O’Steen graduated from Arizona State University Law School. Two years later they formed a legal clinic partnership with the goal of providing legal services at modest fees to persons of moderate income who did not qualify for governmental legal aid. (Wiki)
Why am I writing about two Arizona lawyers in the 70’s? Because they fought the good fight for lawyers in the historical Supreme Court case of Bates v. State Bar of Arizona.
Two years into their law practice, the two lawyers realized that their business model was not working. So, they placed an advertisement in the Arizona Republic that showed their services such as adoption and divorce, and then included their fees for those services, in the ad.
The Arizona State Bar initiated disciplinary proceedings against the two lawyers because lawyers were not allowed to advertise under their ethics rules. The disciplinary committee conducted a hearing and recommended six month suspensions for the lawyers. The lawyers then appealed their suspensions to the Arizona Supreme Court asserting a violation of the First Amendment right of freedom of speech.
The Arizona Supreme Court was faced with a bit of precedence in that the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in the previous year that pharmacists could not be forbidden from advertising prices for prescription medications that they sold. The Arizona Supreme Court probably knew that the “train was coming down the track”, so they upheld the recommendation of discipline by the Disciplinary Committee, but reduced the punishment on the two lawyers to a censure, with no suspension.
And you know why I am writing about this case! Because the U.S Supreme Court heard the appeal by oral argument. The Arizona bar argued that lawyer advertising undermined the attorney’s sense of dignity and self-worth and maintained that such advertising would effect the professionalism of the profession.
The Supreme Court dealt with the arguments against lawyer advertising in their opinion… and then removed the barriers to lawyer advertising and characterized Arizona’s State Bar rules as a violation of the free speech guarantee in the Constitution. The opinion did add that states could still regulate advertising so as to ban false, deceptive or misleading advertising by lawyers.
Game, Set, Match!
And our pic o’ day is all about friendship: