FTC Staff Files Comments with Louisiana State Bar Association on Attorney Advertising; Commission Approves Final Consent Order in Matter of Kinder Morgan, Inc.

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Commission authorization of the filing of staff comments: The Commission has authorized the staffs of the Office of Policy Planning, Bureau of Economics, Bureau of Consumer Protection, and Bureau of Competition to submit joint comments to the Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA) regarding proposed revisions to the rules of professional responsibility with respect to attorney advertising. According to the comments, the proposed rules are very similar to those recently proposed in New York State, about which the staff submitted comments in September 2006. As in those comments, these comments stress the staff’s concern that several provisions of the proposed Louisiana rules would unnecessarily restrict truthful advertising by attorneys in the state. Accordingly, the staff recommends that the LSBA reject or modify the proposed rules to address competitive concerns and to avoid limiting consumer choice.

While the comments state the staff’s belief that deceptive advertising by lawyers should be prohibited, “reasonable restrictions on advertising that are specifically tailored to prevent deceptive claims in a way that preserve competition provide the optimal level of protection for consumers.” Consumers benefit from robust competition among attorneys and from important price and quality information that advertising can provide, the comments conclude. “Rules that unnecessarily restrict the dissemination of truthful and non-misleading information are likely to limit competition and harm consumers of legal services in Louisiana.”

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the comments with the LSBA was 5-0. A copy of the comments can be found on the FTC’s Web site and as a link to this press release. (FTC File No. V070001; the staff contact is Gustav P. Chiarello, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2633.)

Commission approval of final consent order: Following a public comment period, the Commission has approved the issuance of a final consent order in the matter concerning the acquisition of interests in Kinder Morgan, Inc by TC Group LLC (The Carlyle Group) et al. The Commission vote to approve the final order was 3-1, with Commissioner Jon Leibowitz voting no and Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch recused. (FTC File No. 061-0197; the staff contact is Dennis F. Johnson, Bureau of Competition, 202-326-2712; see press release dated January 25, 2007.)

Copies of the documents mentioned in this release are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20580. Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.

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