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Supreme Court of the United States
Argued January 18, 1977 ; June 27, 1977; as amended Petition for Rehearing Denied October 3, 1977
[*353] [***816] [**2693] MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN delivered the opinion of the Court.
As part of its regulation of the Arizona Bar, the Supreme Court of that State has imposed and enforces a disciplinary rule that restricts advertising by attorneys. This case presents two issues: whether §§ 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1 and 2, forbid such state regulation, and whether the operation of the rule violates the First Amendment, made applicable to the States through the Fourteenth. 2
[***817] Appellants John R. Bates and Van O'Steen are attorneys licensed to practice law in the State of Arizona. 3 As such, they are members of the appellee, the State Bar of Arizona. 4 [*354] After admission to the bar in 1972, appellants [****8] worked as attorneys with the Maricopa County Legal Aid Society.App. 221.
[****9] [**2694] March 1974, appellants left the Society and opened a law office, which they call a "legal clinic," in Phoenix. Their aim was to provide legal services at modest fees to persons of moderate income who did not qualify for governmental legal aid. Id., at 75. In order to achieve this end, they would accept only routine matters, such as uncontested divorces, uncontested adoptions, simple personal bankruptcies, and changes of name, for which costs could be kept down by extensive use of paralegals, automatic typewriting equipment, and standardized forms and office procedures. More complicated cases, such as contested divorces, would not be accepted. Id., at 97. Because appellants set their prices so as to have a relatively low return on each case they handled, they depended on substantial volume. Id., at 122-123.
After conducting their practice in this manner for two years, appellants concluded that their practice and clinical concept could not survive unless the availability of legal services at low cost was advertised and, in particular, fees were advertised. Id., at 120-123. Consequently, in order to generate the necessary flow of business, that is, "to attract [****10] clients," id., at 121; Tr. of Oral Arg. 4, appellants on February 22, 1976, placed an advertisement (reproduced in the Appendix to this opinion infra, at 385) in the Arizona Republic, a daily newspaper of general circulation in the Phoenix metropolitan area. As may be seen, the advertisement stated that appellants were offering "legal services at very reasonable fees," and listed their fees for certain services. 5
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433 U.S. 350 *; 97 S. Ct. 2691 **; 53 L. Ed. 2d 810 ***; 1977 U.S. LEXIS 23 ****; 1977-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) P61,573; 51 Ohio Misc. 1; 5 Ohio Op. 3d 60; 2 Media L. Rep. 2097
BATES ET AL. v. STATE BAR OF ARIZONA
Disposition: The Court affirmed that part of the judgment dealing with the Sherman Act because the disciplinary rule was an activity of the state acting as sovereign. The Court reversed that part of the judgment dealing with the First Amendment after the Court held that advertising by attorneys could not be subject to blanket suppression. In addition, the truthful advertisement placed by appellants was found to be constitutionally protected.
advertising, legal services, lawyers, profession, regulation, misleading, appellants', routine, consumer, disciplinary rule, Sherman Act, deception, standardized, courts, prices, ban, commercial speech, pharmacist, divorce, clinic, cases, exemption, uncontested divorce, legal profession, state bar, licensed, ethics, rates, professional services, bar association
Antitrust & Trade Law, Sherman Act, Scope, Exemptions, Exemptions & Immunities, Parker State Action Doctrine, General Overview, Scope, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Freedoms, Judicial & Legislative Restraints, Overbreadth & Vagueness of Legislation, Governments, Legislation, Overbreadth, Bill of Rights, Freedom of Speech, Commercial Speech, Legal Ethics, Legal Services Marketing, Contact With Prospective Clients, Advertising, Time, Place & Manner Restrictions