The Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL) approved a report issued by the Regulation of Lawyer Advertising Committee on June 22, 2015 that calls for sweeping changes to the lawyer advertising rules.
Following two years of research, including surveys of consumers and lawyers, the Committee concluded that the hodge podge approach to states’ ethical rules governing lawyer advertising poses practical and constitutional problems that “far exceed any perceived benefits associated with protecting the public or maintaining the integrity of the legal profession, and that a practical solution to these problems is best achieved by having a single rule that prohibits false and misleading communications about a lawyer or the lawyer’s services.”
The committee found that “a practical solution to these problems is best achieved by having a single rule that prohibits false and misleading communications about a lawyer or the lawyer’s services” under Rule 8.4 (c). The Committee report contains proposed revisions to ABA Model Rules 7.1 (“Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services”), 7.2 (“Advertising”), 7.4 (“Communications of Fields of Practice and Specialization”) and 7.5 (“Firm Names and Letterheads”). The proposed revisions retain the standard of prohibiting “false and misleading” communications.
Currently, each state has its own ethical rules on advertising. States have adopted the ABA rules in whole, in part or not at all, and impose varying degrees of discipline for not complying. With the evolution of technology, methods of marketing and advertising are constantly changing, making it daunting for lawyers to keep with the times in fear of running afoul of disciplinary authorities. Stay tuned as to whether the ABA (and/or any state) takes steps in consideration of APRL’s recommendations.