Andrew Dwyer – a plaintiff’s employment law practitioner – is by all accounts (including a recent adversary with whom I have spoken) a fine lawyer. New Jersey law provides for fee shifting in discrimination cases. Where he has succeeded judges have made findings regarding Dwyer’s skill and performance. He has advertised those judicial statements as facts – which they are.
But according to the Committee on Attorney Advertising of the New Jersey Supreme Court they are misleading statements that run afoul the Court’s Advertising Guideline 3 which the Committee adopted. It provides:
Attorney Advertisements: Use of Quotations or Excerpts From Judicial Opinions About the Legal Abilities of an Attorney
An Attorney or law firm may not include, on a website or other advertisement, a
quotation or excerpt from a court opinion (oral or written) about the attorney’s abilities or legal services. An attorney may, however, present the full text of opinions, including those that discuss the attorney’s legal abilities, on a website or other advertisement.
In the Committee’s view the statement while factually accurate as reports are misleading regarding their meaning. The statements are findings of fact – not judicial endorsements of a an attorney. To make such an endorsement would be improper for a judge and Dwyer’s use of them gives a misleading impression. Dwyer challenged the Guideline in federal courtas a violation of his First Amendment right to commercial speech. The disciplinary stricture was upheld last year in an opinion by by District Judge Faith Hochberg who granted summary judgment to the state. Dwyer has now taken the matter to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. – GWC