Checklist for Lawyers who Advertise
ADVERTISING REGULATION AND INFORMATION
QUICK REFERENCE CHECKLIST
The following quick reference checklist is intended to assist advertising attorneys in developing ads that comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct. Please be advised that an answer of "NO" to all the questions does not guarantee that the ad will be found to comply with the rules. Although, not required, the bar's Standing Committee on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation would be pleased to review your ad in advance.
If the answer to any of the following questions is "YES," the advertisement fails to comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct of the Virginia State Bar.
1. Does the advertisement contain any false or fraudulent statements or claims? [Rule 7.1(a)]
2. Does the advertisement contain any misleading or deceptive statements or claims?
1. Is there misleading or false information in the advertisement? [Rule 7.1(a)(1)]
2. Does the advertisement state or imply that the outcome of a particular legal
matter was not or will not be related to its facts or merits? [Rule 7.1(a)(2)]
3. Does the advertisement compare the lawyer's services to other lawyer's services?
If so, can that comparison be factually substantiated? [Rule 7.1(a)(3)]
4. Does the advertisement contain information that is likely to create unjustified expectations? (ie: references to prior successes, specific case results, promises of positive outcomes, etc.) If yes, does it contain a disclaimer that:
a) puts the case results in a context that is not misleading;
b) states that the case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case; and
c) further states that case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case undertaken by the lawyer. [Rule 7.1(a)(4)]
3. Does the advertisement contain any misleading fee information?
4. Does the advertisement contain an endorsement by a celebrity or public figure, who is not a client of the firm, without disclosing that the speaker is not either a member of the firm nor a client of the firm and whether the speaker is being paid for the appearance or endorsement? [Rule 7.2(a)(1)]
5. Does the advertisement contain a portrayal of a client by a non-client without a disclosure that the depiction is a dramatization? [Rule 7.2(a)(2)]
6. Does the advertisement contain a portrayal of a lawyer in the firm by someone other than the lawyer, without disclosure that the person is not the lawyer or a lawyer in the firm? [Rule 7.2(a)]
7. If an advertisement of a firm or lawyer contains a corporate, trade or fictitious name, is it a registered trade name and does the firm or lawyer actually practices under that same name, including displaying that name on letterhead, business cards, office signs, pleadings and other firm documents? [Rule 7.5]
SPECIFIC RULES REGULATE DIRECT WRITTEN COMMUNICATIONS:
8. If the written communication is contained in an envelope bearing the lawyer's or firm's name and is intended to solicit employment, is "ADVERTISING MATERIAL" marked on the front left corner of the envelope and on the first page of the enclosed communication? [Rule 7.2(d)]
a. Is it in type size at least equal to the largest type used on the envelope/page?
b. Is it an e-mail communication? If yes, then does it include instructions of how the recipient of such communications may notify the sender that they wish not to receive such communications in the future? Does the e-mail communication include a header that is marked "ADVERTISING MATERIAL?" [Rule 7.2(d)]
c. Does the written communication, including e-mail communications, contain the name and office address of the attorney responsible for its content; or in the alternative, a letter on file with the VSB that designates the responsible attorney? [Rule 7.2(e)]
9. Does the advertisement state or imply that the lawyer is a recognized or certified specialist? If yes, is it patent law, admiralty law, or a certification recognized by the Supreme Court of Virginia? If not, then does it contain a disclaimer that clearly states that there is no procedure in the Commonwealth of Virginia for approving certifying organizations? [Rule 7.4(d)]
10. Does the advertisement contain the name and office address of the attorney responsible for its content? [Rule 7.2(e)]
11. If the advertisement states that the attorney will not receive a fee unless an award is obtained, does the advertisement contain a disclaimer that discloses whether or not the client will be responsible for costs or expenses in the absence of a recover? [LEO 1750]
12. Does that advertisement contain specific or cumulative case results? If so, does it contain the appropriate disclaimer required that puts the case results in proper context? [Rule 7.2(a)(3)]
Updated: Dec 10, 2007