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C. Reasons Further Revision is Required



Although these rules are useful efforts at more effective regulation of lawyer advertising via electronic media, they have major shortcomings. The primary one is that they establish a category of "electronic media" that purportedly includes computer networks, but the provisions aimed at the category were clearly developed with an eye toward radio and television advertising.

Netvertising is fundamentally different from television and radio advertising. One of the characteristics of broadcast advertising that makes it vulnerable to regulation is the almost passive nature of the receipt of information via the media. A person turns on "Gilligan's Island" and tucked in between scenes is an advertisement for a personal injury lawyer. The person does not seek this information, it is simply broadcast at him. The same is not true for netvertising. People browse web sites looking for information and entertainment. They actively select locations. Because of this distinction between netvertising and television advertising, much of the rationale supporting the regulation of television broadcasting is not available.

On the other hand Netvertising has two characteristics which make it more dangerous than television advertising: it's high information capacity, and it's worldwide character. The economics of Netvertising enable it to provide much more information than would be feasible via television or radio. One law firm has summaries of over twenty cases that it has won (http://tsw.ingress.com/tsw/talf/cases.html). Their home page is actually different pages of information. This capacity brings up issues that aren't reached with respect to television and radio.

The global nature of Netvertising makes some rules obsolete. For instance the Iowa rules state that electronic advertisements only be made, to the extent possible, "in the geographic area in which the lawyer maintains offices."[71] This is not really practical in the case of Netvertising.

Even within the area of the Internet there are different methods of communication. Conversation in an IRC channel is much different than a home page or a discussion list. While a strong analogy can be drawn between an IRC channel exchange and a telephone conversation, on the other hand,a home page is a unique form of communication. Because of these differences and similarities revisions need to be made to current ethical restrictions on advertising and practicing law.




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