The terms “advertising of the lawyer’s profession” or “advertising” are not defined in the Bulgarian Bar Act and the Code of Ethics of Lawyers. Additional provisions in the Corporate Income Tax Act under ‘advertising” envisage the popularization of goods and services, including presents bearing trade marks and specifically the trade mark of the taxable person within the normal framework of the activity exercised by the individual.
In the Bulgarian legislation there is no definition of the advertising of the services of lawyers and the question of the restrictions on advertising the services of lawyers is directly related to how the lawyer’s services should to be regarded:
– As consultative activity similar to commercial activity, which differs from the previous only as to the market that it is offered – the market of legal services. This view point advocates fewer limitations on publicity. The common rules of publicity with all the respective restrictions foreseen in the Protection of Competition Act and the Consumer Protection Act should apply.
– As upholding the legal activity, where there irrefutably exists a business element, but which legal activity is much more socially prominent than the common commercial activity. Besides it must be exercised by a freelancer, who can unite under a special order and not as a commercial company. In this case the imposed restrictions on the publicity of the services of lawyers are considerable.
We should proceed from the assumption that citizens and companies should have equal opportunity to choose which person will protect their rights through legal actions or out of court. The lawyer then should be able to have the right to announce through the media, by way of electronic media or through other appropriate ways the circumstance that they exercise the legal profession, their specialization, if they have such; if they work independently or in cooperation with other lawyers, the address of their firm, the telephone numbers and the address for correspondence. In this manner the potential risk of financially powerful legal firms to attract considerable mandates through massive publicity on the market will be avoided. The necessity for lawyers to invest huge sums in advertisements solely because there is no other way for them to prosper in the legal profession will also be avoided.
This question is seen differently in Europe. In Germany till 1992 the rules regarding the advertising of the services of lawyers were extremely strict and only publishing the address of the law firm, the name of the lawyer and possibly their specialization was permitted. Now the regulations are much more liberal and come down to the limitations related to the protection of the consumer and fair competition. This question has been settled similarly in Austria for over 10 years now. In England, Italy and France the regulations regarding the advertisement of the activity of lawyers were also extremely strict, but then this practice was forgotten.