Facts of the Case
In regulating the Arizona Bar, the Supreme Court of Arizona restricted advertising by attorneys.
Bates was a partner in a law firm which sought to provide low-cost legal services to people of moderate
income who did not qualify for public legal aid. Bates and his firm would only accept routine legal
matters (many of which did not involve litigation) and depended on a large number of patrons given the
low FINANCIAL return from each client. In assessing their concept of legal services, Bates's firm
decided that it would be necessary to advertise its availability and low fees.
Did the Arizona rule, which restricted legal advertising, violate the freedom of speech of Bates and
his firm as guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments?
Bates v. State Bar of Arizona - Oral Argument
Bates v. State Bar of Arizona - Opinion Announcement
Decision: 5 votes for Bates, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly
The Court found that the rule violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Justice Blackmun argued
that commercial speech does merit First Amendment protection given the important functions it serves in
society, such as providing consumers with information about services and products, and helping to
allocate resources in the American system of free-enterprise. The Court held that allowing attorneys to
advertise would not harm the legal profession or the administration of justice, and, in fact, would supply
consumers with valuable information about the availability and cost of legal services.