Law Office Advertising Ethics
Lawyers are bound by certain rules respecting the content and character of their advertising. Attorneys must understand the rules before they can determine whether their marketing posture fits within them. As of July 1, 2015, the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct underwent a major overhaul, including many revisions to the advertising rules. The changes were based, in part, on adoptions to the American Bar Association Model Rules.
We provide an overview of the changes to the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct, with references to Rules 7.1 – 7.5 regarding advertising ethics, here. The Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules provides this summary of the changes:
The rules on information about legal services, Rules 7.1 to 7.5, and the comments to these rules, have been updated to reflect technological and other changes since these rules were last revised in 1999. Rules 7.2 and 7.3 were also amended to eliminate the requirement that advertisements, letters of solicitation and other written or electronic communications be retained for two years. In addition, the definition of what constitutes a claim of specialization under Rule 7.4 has also been revised to permit lawyers who are not specialists to indicate their areas of practice in communications concerning their services if they do not hold themselves out as specialists.
The BBO has written a number of articles regarding advertising ethics, which can be accessed here, but since the passage of the new rules, many of those articles are now dated. Our best advise is to read the new rules and comments, which will provide answers to many of your advertising ethics questions. If you need further assistance, call the BBO Ethics Hotline available at (617) 728-8750 between the hours of 2 and 4 pm, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
FURTHER READING FROM OUR LENDING LIBRARY
Marketing and Legal Ethics: The Boundaries of Promoting Legal Services (William E. Hornsby, Jr., American Bar Association)
The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers (Ruth Carter, American Bar Association)