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Lawyer trade publication can be distributed in Mississippi

By The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. — A federal judge says a national legal publication that includes advertisements by attorneys does not violate a new state law.

Mississippi's new tort-reform law prohibits lawyers outside the state who are not members of the Mississippi Bar from advertising in the state.

Such ads are included in publications by American Lawyer Media, a legal journalism and information company. The company sued to block the law fearing it would affect its business.

U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate dismissed the lawsuit on Dec. 30. He said the company's ads "do not expressly solicit clients for the commencement of specific litigation in Mississippi and are therefore not within the terms" of the new law.

Jackson lawyer Luther T. Munford, who represents American Lawyer Media, said Wingate's order isn't important to tort reform — but it is to attorneys in this state.

"Without this order, Mississippi lawyers would not have been able to subscribe to the most important sources of news about the legal profession across the country," Munford said.

American Lawyer Media publishes information for and about lawyers in directories and 23 national and regional legal magazines and newspapers, including The American Lawyer, The National Law Journal and Corporate Counsel. The company publishes general ads from law firms with a national or international scope whose attorneys may or may not be licensed to practice in the state.

Special Assistant Attorney General Hunt Cole said the ads in American Lawyer Media publications were not the ones the law meant to address.

"These were more or less ... lawyer-to-lawyer communications not considered to be advertisements," Cole said.


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