Written by:Adv. Pooja Gupta

Advocacy ad | Advocacy advertising in India

Introduction of the Advocacy ad | Advocacy advertising in India: – The practice of advocacy is a noble and honorable one. It is expected that an advocate will not engage in any acts or conduct that will undermine public trust in the legal profession or jeopardize its integrity. As a result, the Bar Council of India and state bar councils prohibit advocates from advertising legal services or soliciting work.

Meaning of legal advertising & work solicitation

Legal advertising (Advocacy ad) is the promotion of a lawyer’s or a law firm’s legal services in order to attract potential clients. Such advertising (Advocacy ad) can occur through a variation of mediums, such as print, television, internet advertising, etc.

To ‘solicit’ simply means to ask for something in a convincing manner or approach. Solicitation is defined as any interaction initiated by or on behalf of a lawyer toward another person with the knowledge and understanding that such an individual is in need of legal services in a particular matter and offering to provide legal services in that particular issue.

The stance of India: Bar Council of India and the Advocates Act, 1961

Sec. 4 of the Advocates Act discusses the establishment of BCI, and under Sections 7 (1) (b) and 49 (1) (c) of the act, the BCI has the authority to restrict the creation of specialized websites as well as the dissemination of advertisements online.

Under Rule 36 of the BCI rules, an advocate is not allowed to directly or indirectly advertise. However, since the BCI amended Rule 36 in 2008, advocates are permitted to post information on their websites such as their name, address, phone numbers, email addresses, professional and academic qualifications, enrolment information, and area of practice. Legal practitioners who provide this information must also make a declaration stating that they have provided accurate information.

Law as a Nobel Profession

The goals of the public interest are foremost in the traditional career of law. He/she discovered himself to be a supporter and defender of justice from the beginning of this profession. In such a business, the primary goal of the operation was to support society, followed by making a living.

In the particular instance of the Indian Council of Legal Aid & Advice v. B.C.I, S.C. asserted that ‘the practise of law being a sacred & noble profession, the foremost object of which is to serve humanity by preserving the system of justice, is the religious duties of the Bar Council to safeguard its professional image by restricting the encroachment of huge numbers of retired individuals.

It is crucial to realize that without values and principles, practicing law is meaningless. Therefore, teaching about ethical principles is a crucial component of any law school curriculum in order to make sure that aspiring attorneys fulfill the requirements of a career in law by upholding moral principles.

Rule 36’s Constitutional Validity

The Indian Constitution guarantees free speech & expression in Art.19(1)(a); the only exceptions to this freedom are in the interests of the state’s sovereignty, integrity, friendly relations with foreign governments, incitement of an offence,  defamation, public security, ethics, & in cases of contempt of court,

The apex court ruled in Tata Yellow Pages v. MTNL that free speech & expression spread to commercial speech, i.e. advertising.

The court determined in the case of Dharamvir Singh v. Vinod Majahan that as the legal profession means creating business proposals, advertising falls within the scope of commercial speech.

Based on the aforementioned analysis of articles as well as cases, it is possible to determine that Rule 36 of the B.C.I do not meet any of the constitutional requirements. Additionally, it can be argued that Rule 36 violates the Indian Constitution’s guarantee of freedom to practice in trade, profession, or business U/A 19(1)(g). Art.19 (1) (g) grants every citizen the right to decide his own livelihood or to engage in any exchange or calling, and this right contains the right to benefit from all strategies & assets, such as advertising. As a result, Rule 36’s prohibition on legal advertising is inconsistent with the constitution and excessive.

Conclusion of the Advocacy ad

Indian attorneys are denied the opportunity to promote their field of expertise in the age of advertising and marketing under the pretext of the “nobility of the profession“. It is critical to remember that advertising is not unjustified; it helps promote legal awareness and allows litigants to carefully consider the ability of their counsel. Numerous nations have repealed the antiquated ban on legal advertising. As legal advertising (Advocacy ad) is prohibited, many litigants are compelled to rely on “friends of a friend” for their legal necessities. Clients appear in court with no prior knowledge of the typical fees for similar cases.

It is past time for the Bar Council and the legal community in India to recognize that the judicial framework is not solely about counsel. Rather, it is that “honorable profession” that serves the interests of the general public. Every litigant, like any other service, should be provided with a platform where they can identify the most appropriate lawyer and acquire the finest valuation for their money.

Advertisements and promotions, which serve as weapons for professionals in this age of globalization, also serve as shields for service consumers. Advertising prohibitions in the legal profession benefit neither the legal professionals nor the clients. It is high time that the relevant authorities recognize this and put an end to this antiquated practice. Only then the dual benefit, both to litigators and to clients, be well served.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can advocates have their own website?

Ans. The BCI’s Rule 36, Section IV, has been amended to permit the legal profession to advertise their services. The amended rule allows advocates to include their identities, contact numbers, e-mail addresses, professional qualifications, and areas of specialization on their preferred websites.

Q. Can a solicitor conduct business in India?

Ans. According to Rule 47, an advocate may not conduct any business on their own, but he may be a sleeping partner in a firm that conducts business as long as, in the relevant State Bar Council’s opinion, the nature of the business does not undermine the respectability of the profession.

Q. What are the advertising guidelines?

Ans. Advertisement claims should be factual, not misleading or unfair, and evidence-based, in accordance with the law. Additional rules may apply to certain specialized services or products.

Q. Is advocacy a commercial business?

Ans. It is neither a business nor a trade. A lawyer must practise law honestly, not with the intention of causing trouble or making money. An advocate must treat his client with the utmost integrity and fairness.

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