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RULE 7.1: COMMUNICATIONS CONCERNING A LAWYER'S SERVICES

A lawyer shall not make false, misleading, or deceptive communications about the lawyer or the lawyer's services. A communication violates this rule if it:

(a) contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading;

(b) is likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve, or states or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;

(c) compares the lawyer’s services with other lawyers’ services, unless the comparison can be factually substantiated;

(d) contains a testimonial about, or endorsement of, the lawyer

(1) without identifying the fact that it is a testimonial or endorsement;

(2) for which payment has been made, without disclosing that fact;

(3) which is not made by an actual client, without identifying that fact; and

(4) which does not clearly and conspicuously state that any result the endorsed lawyer or law firm may achieve on behalf of one client in one matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.

(e) contains a nickname, moniker, or trade name that implies an ability to obtain results in a matter.

Comment

[1] This Rule governs all communications about a lawyer's services, including advertising permitted by Rule 7.2. Whatever means are used to make known a lawyer's services, statements about them must be truthful.

[2] Truthful statements that are misleading are also prohibited by this Rule. A truthful statement is misleading if it omits a fact necessary to make the lawyer's communication considered as a whole not materially misleading. A truthful statement is also misleading if there is a substantial likelihood that it will lead a reasonable person to formulate a specific conclusion about the lawyer or the lawyer's services for which there is no reasonable factual foundation.

[3] An advertisement that truthfully reports a lawyer's achievements on behalf of clients or former clients may be misleading if presented so as to lead a reasonable person to form an unjustified expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client's case. Similarly, an unsubstantiated comparison of the lawyer's services or fees with the services or fees of other lawyers may be misleading if presented with such specificity as would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the comparison can be substantiated. The inclusion of an appropriate disclaimer or qualifying language may preclude a finding that a statement is likely to create unjustified expectations or otherwise mislead a prospective client.

For instance, the prohibition in paragraph (b) on statements likely to create “unjustified expectations” may preclude, and the limitations in paragraph (d) on testimonials and endorsements does preclude, advertisements about results obtained on behalf of a client, such as the amount of a damage award or the lawyer's record in obtaining favorable verdicts, unless they state clearly and conspicuously that any result the lawyer or law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Such information may create the unjustified expectation that similar results can be obtained for others without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances.

[4] Paragraph (e) precludes the use of nicknames, such as the “Heavy Hitter” or “The Strong Arm,” that suggest the lawyer or law firm has an ability to obtain favorable results for a client in any matter. A significant possibility exists that such nicknames will be used to mislead the public as to the results that can be obtained or create an unsubstantiated comparison with the services provided by other lawyers. See also Rule 8.4(f)(prohibition against stating or implying an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law).