Colorado Bar Rules for Attorney Advertising
The Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct were created to ensure that all attorneys that advertise online do so in a fair and genuine manner. The rules related to website design and internet marketing can be found at Rule 7.1 through Rule 7.5. In many respects, the rules track closely with the Model Rules from the American Bar Association. Before you redesign your law firm's website or start a new internet marketing campaign, it's important that you have an thorough understanding of Colorado Bar Rules.
The rules set forth by the Colorado Bar may seem limiting to those who want to advertise online. However, attorneys can still market online effectively whilst staying in compliance with the Colorado Bar Rules. Using marketing techniques such as using the right key terms, appropriate meta tags, and posting regularly can help you maintian a strong Internet presence.
Colorado Bar Rules Resources
Colorado Bar Association Website- Visit the Colorado Bar Association's website for the lastest news on the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, comments on the rules, and ethics opinions interpreting the rules. The Colorado Bar Association is located at:
Colorado Bar Association
1900 Grant St, 9th Floor
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: (303) 860-1115
Colorado Supreme Court - Find information on commonly referenced attorney ethics rules in Colorado, as provided by the Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. The Colorado Supreme Court is located at:
Colorado Supreme Court
1560 Broadway, Ste. 1800
Denver, Colorado 80202
Phone: (303) 886-6400
Ethics Opinions by the Colorado Bar Association Ethics Committee - Find the Formal Ethics Opinions as provided by the Colorado Bar Association Ethics Committee. The opinions provide ethics advice to attorneys in Colorado concerning topics of general interest.
Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct - Read the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct to understand the rules regulating advertisements and other online communications.
Colorado Bar Rules Information Center
- Colorado Bar Rules Guidelines
- False, Deceptive or Misleading Information on Colorado Legal Websites
- Past Case Results on Colorado Law Firm Websites
- Fields of Practice on Colorado Websites
Colorado Bar Rules Guidelines
The Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct govern all advertising and marketing efforts by an attorney or law firm, including website or online marketing and advertising. These ethics rules state the general requirements all lawyers and law firms must follow when advertising, soliciting or marketing online.
In general, at least one lawyer's name must be included on the advertisement stating they are responsible for the content. This does not mean they must write the content, but they will be held responsible if the conduct does not comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Additionally, Rule 7.2 of the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct states the attorney's website must disclose the office address where the law firm or lawyer is located.
False, Deceptive or Misleading Information on Colorado Legal Websites
The Colorado Rule of Professional Conduct Rule 7.1 prohibits attorneys and law firms in Colorado from using false or misleading communications about the attorney's services. Specifically, a lawyer cannot make a false or misleading communication about their legal services or about the lawyer.
The Rules of Professional Conduct state a communication may be false or misleading if:
- The statement omits a fact that is necessary to make the statement not materially misleading;
- The statement contains a material misrepresentation of law or fact;
- The statement compares the lawyer's services to that of another, unless they can be supported by factual evidence; or
- The statement will probably create an unjustifiable expectation about the lawyer's ability to obtain a particular result.
The comments to Rule 7.1 state that certain statements about the attorney's skills or abilities could be misleading if they cannot be factually substantiated. Additionally, the number of years of experience a law firm has can be potentially misleading, if the number combines the years of experience of all members of the law firm and does not differentiate in the years of experience each lawyer has.
The comments to Rule 7.1 of the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct state an attorney is not permitted to make misleading statements about the attorney's fees. The Colorado Bar Associations' comments state that the following words are likely to be misleading if they cannot be factually substantiated:
- Lowest, and
Past Case Results on Colorado Law Firm Websites
The Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct also discuss statements about past case results in the comments sections of communications concerning a lawyer's services. According to the comments, the results a lawyer has obtained in the past can be misleading, unless they are factually substantiated. Case results often imply to prospective clients the lawyer will be able to achieve the same result in the future.
Often, the past case results page on criminal defense attorney websites and personal injury websites is the first place prospective clients will look after finding the website. Potential clients are interested in finding verifiable facts concerning the types of cases that the attorney has taken in the past and the results they have obtained in those cases.
Therefore, disclaimers about past case results are essential. The disclaimer should state the results do not in any way imply the same results will be able to be obtained in the future. The disclaimer should also provide that there is no guarantee the results will be the same for any specific type of case or client.
Fields of Practice on Colorado Websites
Under Rule 7.4 the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney or law firm is not permitted to claim or imply they are certified as a specialist or specializes in any particular practice area on their website, unless:
- They have been certified as a specialist by a state authority-approved organization or an organization that has been accredited by the American Bar Association, and
- The certifying organization is clearly identified on the website communication
Further, if an attorney claims they are certified in an area of law on their website, they must include the following disclosure on their site:
"Colorado does not certify lawyers as specialists in any field."
Rule 7.4 does not to prohibit an attorney or law firm in Colorado from indicating whether they do or do not practice in certain areas of law. The prohibition is generally limited to using the term "specalize" or "specialist" or "certified specialist" or "board certified."
This article was last updated on October 10, 2018.