Lawyers v. CPA's

Now there’s a thought.

Anyway, I seem to recall an item about accountants not being able to advertise on television. And, IIRC, there was a time when lawyers were not allowed to, either. So what’s the deal?

Do lawyers just have better, umm, lawyers?

The rule against lawyers advertising on TV was set by the Bar Associations; it was never law. The association merely changed its code of ethics.

I’d suspect it’s the same thing with accountants, but they have a greater respect for ethics. :slight_smile:

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction.

FWIW, I see commercials for tax accountants (HR Block, for example) all the time. Does the restriction only apply to certain kinds of accountants?

“3 Million Quatloos on the lawyers!”

In ** Bates v. State Bar ** the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the 1st Amendment protects the rights of lawyers to advertise. (The Court did leave room for a great deal of regulation.) The logic of the decision was such that it should apply to CPA’s as well. If some state or state-mandated professional organization currently prohibits advertising by CPA’s, the CPA’s should be able to bring suit to have the restriction struck down.

FYI, a few decades back medical doctors were also prohibited from advertising by their code of ethics.

HR Block people generally are not CPA’s and they are not even accountants. They are tax preparers…which basicly means they passed an HR Block tax preparation class.

Why is it considered unethical for doctors, lawyers, and accountants to advertise, while is is okay for electricians, masseurs, and programmers to advertise?

Much could be written pro and con about “ambulance chasing”, but that’s not the subject here. We are talking about publicizing the fact that John Shmo performs XYZ professional service, and if you need that service, he’s a person to consider. What’s wrong with that?

Keeves, the reason attorneys tried to keep their bar members from advertising was to uphold the dignity of the profession. When you watch television in Los Angeles these days, you can understand the motivation, even if it was an unconstitutional infringment on the First Amendment rights of attorneys.

“But wait, there’s more! With your suit, you can receive a free Ginsu knife…”

Basically, it’s a holdover from old class distinctions. Occupations like doctor, lawyer, or accountant were considered professions that a gentleman might pursue while occupations like electrician, masseur, or programmer were just jobs that any grub could perform. If you let your fellow professionals advertise than than the faint whiff of trade would permeate the air.

I would just point out that lawyers are not allowed to advertise equally in every jurisdiction – precisely because lawyer advertisement is generally a matter regulated by the State Bars, not by law. In my jurisdiction, lawyers are not allowed to advertise on television or on the radio, so you DON’T hear “Have you or someone you love been injured in an accident?” every time you turn on the tube. Attorneys here can advertise in the telephone book (yellow pages) and through sponsorship – i.e., buying ads in symphony programs or being listed as a sponsor on PBS or NPR – but can participate in no other forms of direct advertisement.

I think that there is a corrolation between the amount of competition between lawyers and the lawyers’ own desire to advertise – lots of lawyers means lots of competition so lawyers want to be able to advertise their services. That’s a total WAG, of course, so take it for what it’s worth.


Fiat Justina