Law Ruler April 2024


Keep Your Marketing Out of Ethics Traps

The most important ABA Model Rule governing professional conduct in the area of legal marketing is Rule 7.1, which covers communications concerning a lawyer's services. All states have adopted this rule, worded exactly the same or very close to it. The rule provides:

A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer's services. A communication is false or misleading if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.

Simply put, it says “thou shalt not lie.” Lawyers being lawyers, however, we somehow make what should be a straightforward rule into something far more complex. Recently, I conducted a legal review of numerous catchy words and phrases that a marketing-savvy lawyer might want to use, and assessed the risk of each under the rule. If the rule is “don’t lie,” it seems that you shouldn’t need to retain legal counsel to tell the truth from a lie. But in fact the regulations are murky. Here are some of the ethics traps that lawyers typically fall into when communicating with potential clients about their legal services. ... READ MORE

Originally published February 6, 2013
Last updated November 6, 2014
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