N.J. high court gives 'Super Lawyers' temporary reprieve

By The Associated Press
08.21.06

TRENTON, N.J. — The state Supreme Court has put the brakes on a recent ruling by an attorney-ethics committee that stops lawyers from advertising their inclusion on two top-lawyer lists.

Each year, lawyers are surveyed and the results are published with self-congratulatory ads from attorneys and their firms.

The lists, which include the "Best Lawyers in America" and "Super Lawyers," appear as stand-alone publications or as inserts in city magazines and other media.

Last month, a committee appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that lawyers on the lists can't advertise themselves as "super" or "best" because it violates the state's rules of professional conduct.

"These self-aggrandizing titles have the potential to lead an unwary consumer to believe that the lawyers so described are ... superior to their colleagues," the New Jersey Committee on Attorney Advertising wrote.

On Aug. 18, the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed to put a hold on the prohibition while the publishers of the two lists fight the ruling on First Amendment grounds.

Lawyers for "Best Lawyers" told The Star-Ledger of Newark that they were thrilled about the Aug. 18 ruling.

"There are substantial constitutional questions in play," said Stuart Hoberman, a former president of the New Jersey State Bar Association.

Attorneys in the case say they expect to file briefs in the next few days, though the court hasn't indicated when it will make a final ruling.

The "Super Lawyers" moniker is the invention of the Minnesota magazine Law & Politics, and both are published by Key Professional Media Inc. A similar publication, "Best Lawyers in America," is published by Aiken, S.C.-based Woodward/White Inc.