The landmark Supreme Court ruling in the case of Bates v. Arizona State Bar Association on June 27, 1977, was a major turning point in the legal industry. This ruling overturned the prohibitions against advertising by lawyers, making it legal for them to advertise their services. This decision allowed new lawyers to penetrate the market and gave potential clients an easier way to find an attorney who was suited to their legal needs. The Supreme Court decision stated that publicity does not provide a complete basis on which to select an attorney, and that a ban on advertising would serve to “perpetuate the market position of established lawyers”.
Before this ruling, lawyers were subject to state bar rules that prevented any false or misleading advertising. They could negotiate their own fees on a case-by-case basis, and acceptable advertising consisted of a title and a business card. The Bates case was significant because it allowed lawyers to advertise their services legally, which has had a major impact on the legal industry. It has allowed people who need legal services to find lawyers who are suited to their needs, and it has given new lawyers an opportunity to penetrate the market. Traditional forms of advertising were quickly overtaken by modern methods such as online marketing. Online marketing has become the preferred method for lawyers to advertise their services.
It provides more revenue in a shorter period of time than any other form of advertising at just a small fraction of the cost compared to print and multimedia advertisements. It also allows lawyers to pre-select case publications and select only the cases that are right for them. Today, many lawyers still oppose lawyer advertising, but they must abide by state bar rules in order to prevent any false or misleading advertising. The Bates v. Arizona State Bar Association ruling has had a lasting impact on the legal industry, allowing people to find attorneys who are suited to their needs and giving new lawyers an opportunity to enter the market.