Not a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel of Supreme Court

Supreme Court of the United States

January 7, 1985, Argued ; May 28, 1985, Decided

No. 83-2166


 [*629]  [***658]  [**2270]    JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

 Since the decision in Virginia Pharmacy Board v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748 (1976), in which the Court held for the first time that the First Amendment precludes certain forms of regulation of purely commercial speech, we have on a number of occasions addressed the constitutionality of restraints on advertising and solicitation by attorneys. See In re R. M. J., 455 U.S. 191 (1982); In re Primus, 436 U.S. 412 (1978); Ohralik v. Ohio State Bar Assn., 436 U.S. 447 (1978); Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977). This case presents additional unresolved questions regarding the regulation of commercial speech by attorneys: whether a State may discipline an attorney for soliciting business by running newspaper advertisements containing nondeceptive illustrations and legal advice, and whether a  [***659]  State may seek to prevent potential deception of the public by requiring attorneys to disclose in their advertising certain [****9]  information regarding fee arrangements.

Appellant is an attorney practicing in Columbus, Ohio. Late in 1981, he sought to augment his practice by advertising in local newspapers. His first effort was a modest one: he ran a small advertisement in the Columbus Citizen Journal advising its readers that his law firm would represent defendants in drunken driving cases and that his clients' "[full] legal fee [would be] refunded if [they were] convicted  [*630]  of  [**2271]  DRUNK DRIVING." 2 The advertisement appeared in the Journal for two days; on the second day, Charles Kettlewell, an attorney employed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court of Ohio (appellee) telephoned appellant and informed him that the advertisement appeared to be an offer to represent criminal defendants on a contingent-fee basis, a practice prohibited by Disciplinary Rule 2-106(C) of the Ohio Code of Professional Responsibility. Appellant immediately withdrew the advertisement and in a letter to Kettlewell apologized for running it, also stating in the letter that he would decline to accept employment by persons responding to the ad.

 [****10]  Appellant's second effort was more ambitious. In the spring of 1982, appellant placed an advertisement in 36 Ohio newspapers publicizing his willingness to represent women who had suffered injuries resulting from their use of a contraceptive device known as the Dalkon Shield Intrauterine Device. 3 The advertisement featured a line drawing of the Dalkon Shield accompanied by the question, "DID YOU USE THIS IUD?" The advertisement then related the following information:

Read The Full CaseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.

471 U.S. 626 *; 105 S. Ct. 2265 **; 85 L. Ed. 2d 652 ***; 1985 U.S. LEXIS 19 ****; 53 U.S.L.W. 4587; 1985-2 Trade Cas. (CCH) P66,645; 17 Ohio B. Rep. 315



Disposition:  10 Ohio St. 3d 44, 461 N. E. 2d 883, affirmed in part and reversed in part.


advertisement, deceptive, solicitation, Disciplinary, illustrations, advice, legal advice, commercial speech, regulation, discipline, disclosure requirements, misleading, drunk driving, contingent-fee, nondeceptive, terms, costs, unsolicited, cases, potential client, lawyers, consumer, lawsuits, prophylactic rule, legal right, restrictions, disclosures, ban, due process, recommendations

Constitutional Law, Freedom of Speech, Commercial Speech, General Overview, Legal Ethics, Legal Services Marketing, Advertising, Law Firms, Contact With Prospective Clients, Fundamental Freedoms, Judicial & Legislative Restraints, Overbreadth & Vagueness of Legislation, Governments, Courts, Authority to Adjudicate