Alabama Bar Bans Lawyer’s Ads

“One call, that’s all!” has been seen and heard as a tagline on Louisiana television, radio and billboards for two decades.
The ads have helped make personal injury lawyer Morris Bart hugely successful. But when Bart attempted to take his pitch to Alabama, it fell upon deaf ears.
Bart was one of the first attorneys to take advantage of the 1977 Supreme Court decision allowing lawyers to advertise on TV. His ads, produced by Invision in Dallas, tend toward the sensational. In one, a wrecked car falls onto his desk.
Bart marched into Mississippi and Alabama with a $2.5 million campaign. The effort was sidetracked this summer when the Alabama Bar Association banished him from the airwaves and billboards.
ABA general counsel L. Gilbert Kendrick said the group found Bart’s ads misleading because they suggest car accident victims could collect large sums of cash just by calling him. The bar also noted that Bart is not licensed to practice law in Alabama.
“Our rules require any attorney who advertises to send us ads, and we just decided he had gone too far,” Kendrick said. “He shouldn’t imply he’s capable of practicing law where he isn’t.”
The lawyer has pulled “the most offensive ads,” said Kendrick.
Bart, not surprisingly, retaliated with a federal lawsuit, contending the ABA disciplinary board is treading on his right to free speech.
The lawyer claims he has a right to advertise his practice and serve as a spokesman for it, even though he is not licensed in Alabama and will not personally handle cases.
Bart continues to negotiate with the state bar while he runs noncontested ads. His lawsuit is pending.