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Advertisement for Lawyers in Bangladesh: Is It Permitted?

The legal profession is viewed very novelly in Bangladesh, and it is led by a robust framework of professional conduct and a strict code of ethics. However, the thick commercialization of the legal sector, along with other sectors, which is led by changing times, has questioned whether lawyers should be permitted to promote their services through advertisement.

Bangladesh Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Order, 1972[1], and the Bangladesh Bar Council Canons of Professional Conduct and Etiquette, 1975[2] are the legal frameworks that regulate the legal practices in Bangladesh. Professional accountability and guidelines regarding ethics for law practitioners are derived from these regulations.  

Advertising as a practice in the legal sector is recognized as an act that is not ethical and is considered against professionalism in the field. A reserved and dignified demeanor is what is accepted by a legal professional from a traditional viewpoint. It is assumed that their marketing is not more than word-of-mouth endorsement, and their services are taken up based on their reputation in the market.[3] The undermining of uprightness and unbiasedness are assumed to be the by-products of advertisement in the legal sector. 

The arrival of border-breaking industrialization and the growth of competition in the various areas of businesses have asked for more accountability and obtainability of information, which includes breaking industrialization and growth of competition in the various areas of businesses has asked for more accountability and obtainability of information, which included with itself the sector of law. The debate of synergizing the legal profession with the advertisement is promoted while substantiating that advertising legal aids will bring awareness to the public by providing them with the information, hence, bringing in access to justice.[4]

The Legal Landscape: Regulations and Professional Conduct

The issues relating to advertisement in Bangladesh have been brought into consideration by the Bangladesh Bar Council Canons of Professional Conduct and Etiquette, 1975. It is stated under Rule 36 of the Canons states that a legal professional, by means of advertisements, through circulars, touts, or personal communications or interviews, should not seek professional employment. It can be figured out from this that approaching clients through advertisement is prohibited.

However, as the people say – “A storm can be brought in a teacup by a lawyer.” Legal Professionals argue that the rule does not apply to all advertising types. It is said that an advertisement that provides information and is based on facts is allowed in the field until and unless they are directly soliciting for legal service.

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The Debate: Differing Perspectives

These legal professionals debate on an argument that is double-folded- advertisement for legal services will get people informed, hence helping them to get the right legal aids at the right time, which will bring justice[5], as it will bring awareness and avoid delays and as we know- delayed justice is denied justice. Along with this, advertising in the field will bring professional and financial growth to the practitioners of the sector as they will bring new clients through this medium.

On the other hand, the critics are of the opinion that advertising legal services may diminish the rectitude and professionalism of the profession.[6] Activities such as untrue or disguised advertisements bring hindrance to the justness and neutrality of legal professionals.[7] Moreover, there is a mindset behind this argument that advertisement will lead to the commercialization of the legal profession. Then, the lawyers’ aim will shift from the client’s interest to profit maximization.[8]

In recent times, the legal professionals of Bangladesh have been seen engaging in advertisements for their services by listing their services on websites and social media platforms.[9] However, these practices are not explicitly backed or prohibited by any law. Hence, they are a matter of debate on the grounds of their legal backing and some implications involving ethics. 

Bangladesh Bar Council has been notified by various experts and stakeholders in the field to get some clarity on the different rules and regulations in the context of the issue.[10] They believe that it is required to be regulated in a way that will benefit both sides- legal professionals and the public; an advertisement that is not unethical and provides some kind of genuine information should be allowed alongside, and the integrity of the profession should also not be sacrificed.

The Way Forward: Striking a Balance

The prominent solution for this problem can be developing a code of conduct or generating a set of regulations that would determine appropriate practice under advertisement in the legal field and prohibit some actions proportionality.[11] The prohibition can be in line with untrue and disguised advertisements. There can be conditions associated with advertisements, such as disclaimers and disclosures. There can also be restrictions on specific marketing techniques through particular channels.

Also Read:  Advertisement for Lawyers in Pakistan: Is It Permitted?

To add more to the solution, the Council of Bangladesh can consider establishing a body such as a committee to regulate and monitor the advertisements being made in the legal sector. This will ensure that the rules and regulations are followed while also taking care of any contingent issue that arises.[12]

It is not uncommon to see split opinions regarding legal advertisements, as we see in Bangladesh. Many more countries’ jurisdictions are facing the same issues regarding the matter. To resolve this, many of them have entirely banned the advertisement or have brought in various approaches, such as generating guidelines under permissive frameworks.[13]


 

[1] Bangladesh Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Order, 1972.

[2] Bangladesh Bar Council Canons of Professional Conduct and Etiquette, 1975.

[3] Hossain, M. (2015). The legal profession in Bangladesh: Challenges and prospects. Dhaka University Law Journal, 26(1), 1-22.

[4] Bari, M. I. (2018). Access to justice and legal advertising in Bangladesh. The Daily Star. https://www.thedailystar.net/law/access-justice-and-legal-advertising-bangladesh-1531575

[5] Rahman, M. M. (2020). Legal advertising in Bangladesh: A debatable issue. The Lawyers & Jurists. https://lawyersnjurists.com/article/legal-advertising-bangladesh-debatable-issue/

[6] Kabir, S. (2019). The need for legal advertising in Bangladesh. The Daily Star. https://www.thedailystar.net/law/news/the-need-legal-advertising-bangladesh-1737385

[7] Islam, M. R. (2017). Legal advertising: A debate on ethical issues. The Daily Star. https://www.thedailystar.net/law/legal-advertising-debate-ethical-issues-1459349

[8] Haque, M. S. (2021). Legal advertising in Bangladesh: A critical analysis. BRAC University Journal, 18(1), 45-55.

[9] Hasan, M. (2022). The rise of legal advertising in Bangladesh: Opportunities and challenges. The Daily Observer. https://www.observerbd.com/news.php?id=349753

[10] Rahman, M. S. (2019). Legal advertising in Bangladesh: Time for a regulatory framework. The Lawyers & Jurists. https://lawyersnjurists.com/article/legal-advertising-bangladesh-time-regulatory-framework/

[11] Karim, M. R. (2020). Regulating legal advertising in Bangladesh: A proposal. Dhaka University Law Journal, 31(2), 125-144.

[12] Bhuiyan, M. A. (2018). Legal advertising and the role of the Bangladesh Bar Council. The Independent. https://www.theindependentbd.com/arcprint/details/162913/2018-10-26

[13] International Bar Association. (2018). Legal advertising: A global perspective. https://www.ibanet.org/Legal_Advertising_Report.aspx


 

 

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