William H. Schorling, a shareholder and Executive Committee member of the Bankruptcy and Creditors' Rights Section at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney's Philadelphia office, was quoted in a recent article posted to the website TheBankruptcyLaw.info.
According to the article, titled "Eighth Circuit rejects limit on bankruptcy attorneys' advice," a St. Louis-based federal appeals court recently took a close look at the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. Reportedly, attorneys across the country have raised questions about the act and whether portions of it are constitutional. "The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the first federal appeals court to take up the issue," the article noted.
One issue addressed was whether a provision that requires any attorney who provides bankruptcy assistance to identify themselves or their firm as a "debt relief agency" that helps people file for bankruptcy, is constitutional. In delivering its opinion, the 8th Circuit decided that requiring certain language to appear in attorneys' advertisements was, in fact, constitutional.
"The court said the disclosure provision did not violate an attorney's First Amendment rights to free speech. The disclosure is factual information, the court noted, and attorneys are still free to tailor their advertisements to accurately reflect the bankruptcy services they provide," explained the article.
The case was brought by the law firm Milavetz, Gallop & Milavetz and two unnamed bankruptcy clients. The Commercial Law League of America — a creditors' rights organization — filed an amicus in the case that supported the claims of Milavetz.
Schorling, a member of the organization, wrote the brief for the organization. Following the court's decision, he said he was disappointed that the advertising provision was upheld.
"It's not helpful for bankruptcy attorneys to be considered 'debt relief agencies,'" Schorling said. "It's a confusing term. Most people when they saw 'debt relief' would not think you were talking about a lawyer."