In this article on ‘How Lawyers Advertise in India?’ we will analyse the rules regarding prohibition, background and its evasion in current times. Despite having a thousand lawyers enrolled with bar council every year, neither law professionals nor the law firms have the right to advertise their profession. Lawyers are prohibited from doing anything that might influence the… Read More »

In this article on ‘How Lawyers Advertise in India?’ we will analyse the rules regarding prohibition, background and its evasion in current times.

Despite having a thousand lawyers enrolled with bar council every year, neither law professionals nor the law firms have the right to advertise their profession. Lawyers are prohibited from doing anything that might influence the prospective client. The prohibition on advertising is based on the old British notion that law is a “noble profession”.

It can be argued that in the information age, the consumer of legal services is entitled to get information about the lawyer or law firm like consumers of any other services and to utilize his money efficiently. Irrespective of this prohibition, many big law firms find their way to advertise which puts small firms in a disadvantageous position.

Introduction

In India, Advocates are disallowed from advertising their professional services under the rules endorsed by the Bar Council of India. This law got from the old Victorian ideas of British Common law, which didn’t consider the occupation of a lawyer not as a trade, and saw lawyers as quintessential officials of the court. Its origin can likewise be found in the Canons of American Jurisprudence.

According to Ordinance 27 of Professional Ethics of the American Bar Association, it would be ‘unprofessional’ to request the services of an advocate. This impression of legal practice as a ‘noble profession’, as opposed to services has prompted the advancement of such a restriction. This law forcing forbiddance on advertising tries to legitimize itself under the appearance of public strategy and ‘respect of profession’.

It is generally safeguarded on the ground that permitting advocates to publicize would not just clear approach to possibly deceptive people in general, yet would likewise ‘debase the nobility’ of the decent profession.

In any case, with the progression of time, this view has generally been reprimanded by specialists and experts the same on the ground that such obsolete thoughts and forbiddances on advertising restricted the capacity of individuals to secure data in regards to legal services offered by lawyers and prompted rivalries limitations in the legal field.

For example, formation of passage obstructions for fledgling lawyers and convergence of market power with a couple of lawyers of ‘high notoriety’ who abuse this ability to charge extravagant expense from customers. In addition, the way that the legal profession is not any more a ‘noble profession’ and is quickly moving towards commercialization everywhere in the world has additionally been perceived by controllers of the legal profession, and the vast majority of them have discarded the act of restricting advocates from advertising.

In the expressions of Thomas D. Morgan, “Law has stopped being a profession and has become a business”.[1]

Legal Background

The professional morality and principles for advocates in India are represented by the Advocates Act, 1961. Section 4 of the Act accommodates the foundation of a Central Bar Council for example the BCI and individual State Bar Councils, which are authorised with the ability to make rules in regards to professional legal conduct. Section 49(1) of the Act has incredibly engaged the Bar Councils to detail rules relating to ‘the norm of professional morality and conduct’ just as the ‘prerogative of practice’ for lawyers.

Rule 36 of the BCI Rules[2], stated in the Gazette of India on the sixth of September 1975 peruses as follows:

“An advocate shall not solicit work or advertise, either directly or indirectly, whether by circulars, advertisements, touts, personal communications, interviews not warranted by personal relations, furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments or producing his photographs to be published in connection with cases in which he has been engaged or concerned. His sign-board or name-plate should be of a reasonable size.

The sign-board or name-plate or stationery should not indicate that he is or has been President or Member of a Bar Council or of any Association or that he has been associated with any person or organisation or with any particular cause or matter or that he specialises in any particular type of worker or that he has been a Judge or an Advocate General.”

On an uncovered examination of the above rule, it very well might be seen according to Rule 36, there lies a total bar on advocates from advertising their services. The subjective and prohibitive nature of Rule 36 tested in plenty of cases bringing about clashing decisions on the issue.

In 1967, the Madras High Court in C.D. Sekkizhar v. Secretary Bar Council[3] opined that ads by advocates were restricted to forestall feelings of envy and was unsuitable for the noble profession. Further, the Apex Court in Bar Council of Maharashtra v M. V. Dabholkar[4], believed that “business rivalry and acquisition could vulgarize the legal profession”.

Alternately, in 1985 the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Dharam Vir Singh v. Vinod Mahajan[5], held that offering legal types of assistance would be a business recommendation, and advertising the equivalent would come quite close to ‘business discourse’ as secured by Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution.

Considering this, the Apex Court in its milestone judgment in Tata Yellow Pages v. MTNL[6], held that business discourse was a key right, to be fundamentally ensured by Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. Notwithstanding, since the matter was not heard by a full seat, the judgment didn’t proclaim Rule a day and a half the BCI Rules unlawful.

Evading the law | How Lawyers Advertise in India?

Even though there it is not allowed for advocates to advertise their practice, they more often than not find loopholes in the system to advertise it anyways. It is difficult to overestimate how much change has come to advertising as a rule, and lawyer advertising specifically, in only the previous few years. Obviously, you’ve seen that, and yet you’ve additionally been centred around your training and growing your customer base.

One of those realities is that in 2016 the internet advertising market was bigger than that for TV, and of course, the hole is anticipated to grow.[7] Magazine promotion income, flat. Paper advertising, declining. Out of home advertising is developing, yet to a great extent due to carefully determined out of home alternatives, for example, advanced billboards.

It’s barely noticeable online media channels with regards to advertising. All things considered, isn’t Twitter for communicating feelings and getting news, and isn’t Facebook for sharing family pictures? Try not to excuse their force and their viability. In any case, while considering social applications, it’s imperative to remember that they are fundamentally a way to fabricate mindfulness, and not really to make, in any event, close to term, conversations.

At the present time, the degree of commitment that Facebook gives makes it the essential online media channel for lawyers. The expense is sensible, and you can make your firm exceptionally apparent to your objective. Think about the expansiveness of Facebook’s inclusion — Facebook has more than two billion dynamic footfalls. What’s more, with Facebook it is not difficult to focus on that colossal client base to ensure you are arriving at the correct ones. In any case, once more, don’t search for moment changes, however, consider Facebook an approach to procure top of brain mindfulness with the correct possibilities.

Simultaneously, there are a few difficulties in working with Facebook. One is that Facebook, in light of current circumstances, has some unmistakable rules for advertising that can be hard to explore. Also, once more, Facebook is a scene for mindfulness, not really for changes.

A new, more common approach for lawyers and law firms to advertise their business has stemmed through LinkedIn. Unlike social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn isn’t built for consumers. Instead, it is a social platform for business and professional networking. So, any type of law practice that focuses on representing businesses, organizations, companies etc. Examples include insurance defence firms, labour and employment firms that represent employers (not employees), commercial transaction lawyers, mediators, and other areas of practice that focus on representing companies, not consumers, or lawyers.

Of all social media platforms, LinkedIn, which is considered the “professional” social network, is far and away the most popular with attorneys. Due to its professional and serious tone, lawyers naturally feel comfortable participating on LinkedIn. According to a 2016 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, over 93% of lawyers now use the platform.

But simply having a basic profile on the platform isn’t enough to leverage it for your benefit. Even though LinkedIn does not get as much recognition as Facebook or Twitter, there are several reasons why it deserves your attention. Once you realize how valuable this resource is to your firm’s digital marketing program, you will be eager to optimize your participation in this space.

Reasons to Allow the Advertisement of Legal Services

The benefits of allowing managed advertisements of the legal services are diverse.

Right off the bat, directed consent to advertise the legal services will fill in as a help to the lawyers who are simply beginning on their professions. Law practice is for the most part dependent on an enormous appeal among the customer base and the image, which are difficult to find for an upcoming lawyer. The greater firms and renowned lawyers will in general make it a treacherous task for the newer firms and the nearly more current lawyers. Allowing them to promote their services will fill in as an enormous catalyst to the legal business and draw in a greater amount of ability to the business.[9]

Furthermore, the customers reserve a privilege to data and information. Consequently, the ad of the legal services will empower customers to settle on an educated decision about who they approach for legal services and not simply depend on the expression of their ‘companions’. A disallowance on the ad of legal services serves more against the public great than for it.

Conclusion

Prohibition on advertising prompts denying customers of important data about the advocates. This regularly brings about a circumstance where customers can’t settle on an educated decision from the serious market since data identifying with the assistance isn’t accessible to them. Additionally, limitation on professional firms on advising expected clients on a range regarding their services and potential makes further injury to the opposition. Hence, the guidelines forced on the legal services area are anti-competitive and in opposition to the objectives and motivation behind competition policy and Competition Act, 2002.

It is time that we eliminate the veil of ignorance and recognize the reality of commercialisation of legal profession, consequently controlling it in like manner to permit advertising of legal services, subsequently guaranteeing and advancing competition in the legal profession.


[1] Thomas D. Morgan, The Impact of Antitrust Law on the Legal Profession, 67 Fordham L. Rev. 415 (1998). Available at: https://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/flr/vol67/iss2/7

[2] Section IV (Duty to Colleagues) of Chapter II (Standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquette) of Part VI (Rules Governing Advocates)

[3] AIR 1967 Mad 35

[4] (1976) 2 SCC 291

[5] AIR 1985 P&H 169

[6] (1995) 5 SCC 139

[7] US TV Ad Spending, 2016-2021, Available Here

[8] Daniel Vdzquez Albert, Competition Law and Professional Practice, 11 ILSA J. INT’L & COMP. L. 555, 568 nn. 8-10 and accompanying text (2004-2005)


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Updated On 2021-05-10T16:02:37+05:30
Antariksh Anant

Antariksh Anant

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