Title: Advertising in the Legal Profession Issue: What is the scope of advertising for the purpose of the prohibition of advertising in the Legal Profession Act of Trinidad and Tobago No. 21 of 1986? Cause of Problem: Schedule No. 3 Part A of the Legal Profession Act No. 21 of 1986 , Sections 6 and 7: An attorney at law may speak in public or write for publications on legal topics so long as he does not thereby advertise his own professional competence and is not likely to be regarded as being concerned thereby with the giving of individual advice. The best advertisement for an attorney at law is the establishment of a well merited reputation for personal integrity, capacity, dedication to work and fidelity to trust and it is unprofessional:
a) To solicit business by circulars or advertisements or interviews not warranted by personal relations;
b) To seek retainers through agents of any kind; Background to Era in which Code of Ethics was made: The Legal profession Act of Trinidad and Tobago was drafted in an era of no Internet, two radio stations, state-owned television and two daily newspapers. There was also little means by which consumers could obtain and verify information on the quality of services provided by a legal practitioner. Hence in this context the Legislation was relevant and it served to prevent forms of advertising that would misrepresent the capability of the professional in question.
This was determined to be a necessity in a profession where standard was to be maintained. Current Position: Now the State and private sector have expanded the print and broadcast media and the internet has driven the communications channels and reach, including the reach of social media. The public itself is less precocious, more knowledgeable of its rights and more demanding of justice, fairness and transparency. There are several avenues that are opened to consumers where attorneys fall short of the standard required in their service to the public. They have applications that can be made to the disciplinary committee1 of the legal profession as well authority that the court has to discipline attorneys.
Part B Rule 18 of the Code of Ethics, Third Schedule to the Legal Profession Act No.21 of 1986 Part B Rule 35(1) of the Code of Ethics, Third Schedule to the Legal Profession Act No.21 of 1986 2 In matter of Gail Robinson and Beverly Scoobie solicitors and Beverly Scoobie, Solicitors and In the Matter of the Inherent Jurisdiction of the Court Hca No. 2 of 1985 (unreported),
Domain Idea: Advertising and Communications
Theoretical Considerations: Advertising is an important constituent in the positioning of a brand in the mind and hearts of consumers. It also serves to build a brand preference amongst a target market. Advertising is multi-functional serving to inform, persuade, remind and enforce the target market as to the services provided by a particular business.3 Advertising for the purposes of marketing would include the use of following Medias4Newspapers, Television, Direct Mail, Radio, Magazines, Outdoor, Yellow Pages, Newsletters, Brochures, Telephone, and Internet.
Consequences of lack of clarity of scope of Advertising: Lawyers in Trinidad and Tobago have sought very creative ways to get around this prohibition by interpreting advertising as written into the act narrowly; they consider the act as excluding new and current forms of advertising. Attorneys are therefore doing the following:
They are doubling up as newspaper columnists, regular presenters, co-presenters and guests on talk radio and television; Attorneys are also making use of social media, engaging the public but also exposing their views for public consumption. There is also the use of websites by firms. On the websites the firms have the services provided by the various attorneys and their qualifications.
Courtney from Study Moose
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