LAWYER ADVERTISING OPINION #A-0l01



ELECTRONIC MEDIA ADVERTISING: Actor Portraying Attorney



Disciplinary Rule 2-l0l(A) permits a lawyer to use or participate in the use of public communication, i.e., advertising, provided that such communication does not contain a false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive statement or claim. The Rule articulates several examples of communications which would be violative of the prohibition, including an advertisement which contains a portrayal of a client by a non-client without a disclosure that the depiction is a dramatization. DR 2-l0l(A)(5)

The Standing Committee on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation [Committee] has considered the issue of whether or not a television advertisement is misleading when a lawyer or law firm uses an actor to portray an attorney associated with the law firm without disclosing that fact in the advertisement.

The Committee has viewed numerous advertisements in which, either by direct statement or by implication, it appears that a person is an attorney associated with the advertised law firm, even though that person is not, in fact, an employee or member of the law firm. In particular, the Committee has noted that, when speaking, actors frequently include first person references to themselves as lawyers or as members of the law firm being advertised. The Committee is of the opinion that failing to disclose that the actor is not truly an employee or member of the law firm, when the language used implies otherwise, is misleading or deceptive.

For this reason, the Committee concludes that, in order to avoid being deceptive and violative of DR 2-l0l(A), such an advertisement either must clearly indicate that the person depicted as an attorney associated with the advertised firm is not, or must avoid giving the impression, either directly or indirectly, that the portrayed person is, in fact, an attorney at the firm.

This opinion is advisory only and not binding on any court or tribunal.

Opinion of VSB Standing Committee on

Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation

April 28, l993