Connecticut Bar Rules for Attorney Advertising
Before you redesign your law firm's website or start a new internet marketing campaign, it's important to pay attention to the Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct that are related to attorney advertising online. The first step to learning the rules is reading the applicable bar rules for attorney advertising. Additional information can be found in the comments to each rule and the advisory ethics opinions interpreting the rules.
Although the rules in Connecticut are restrictive, an attorney can stay in full compliance while still having an extremely effective internet marketing campaign. However, there are multiple ways an Connecitcut attorney can advertise. Using relevant search engine terms, managing blog posts, and created relevant content for clients to web seach can help you create a strong Internet presence.
Additional Resources for Attorney Advertising in Connecticut
Attorney Advertising - Frequently Asked Questions - Read more on the website for the Sate of Connecticut Judicial Branch from the Statewide Grievance Committee and Statewide Bar Counsel. The frequently asked question section explains the scope of attorney advertising, the mandatory filing rules, exemptions from filing, and multi-jurisdictional rules.
Random Review of Advertisements in Connecticut - Find information on the procedures for the random review of attorney advertisements in Connecticut including the negotiation of a resolution if a concern is found.
Advertising Advisory Opinions in Connecticut - Read the advisory opinions issued by the Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee from July 17, 2007 through May 27, 2014.
Definition of Attorney Advertisements in Connecticut
Under the Connecticut Bar Rules, attorney advertising includes any communication made by a lawyer about the lawyer concerning the legal services offered by the firm. Additionally, attorneys in Connecticut must comply with certain filing requirements. For instance, on a quarterly basis, attorneys must provide the domain names or URLs of websites or social media profiles used primarily to advertise legal services.
Mandatory Filing Rules Regarding Attorney Advertisements
Under Sections 2-28A and Rule 14 of the Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee Rules of Procedure, attorneys are generally required to file a copy of a legal advertisement with the Statewide Grievance Committee just before or at the same time that it is first disseminated.
The attorney is not required to obtain approval in advance of the advertising. The attorney must file a copy of the legal advertisement electronically through Connecticut Judicial Branch E-Services. Certain limited exceptions apply as discussed below.
Because of technical restrictions, certain types of multi-media advertisements must be filed by non-electronic means.
Exemptions from the Mandatory Filing Requirements
As a general rule, the attorney is only required to file the domain names on a quarterly basis of websites used by attorneys primarily to offer legal services. Therefore, websites or social media profiles that are used by the attorney primarily for personal purposes do not need to be provided.
Other exemptions from the mandatory filing rule are found in Section 2-28A(b) of the Connecticut Practice Book. Those exemptions include:
- Communication that is requested by a prospective client (often called "information upon request");
- Any communication sent only to:
- Existing or former clients;
- Other attorneys or professionals; business organizations including trade groups; not-for-profit organizations; governmental bodies and/or
- Members of a not-for-profit organization that meets the following conditions: the primary purposes of the organization do not include the rendition of legal services; the recommending, furnishing, paying for or educating persons regarding legal services is incidental and reasonably related to the primary purposes of the organization; the organization does not derive a financial benefit from the rendition of legal services by an attorney; and the person for whom the legal services are rendered, and not the organization, is recognized as the client of the attorney who is recommended, furnished, or paid for by the organization.
- Advertisement in the public media that contains only the information, in whole or in part, contained in Rule 7.2 (i) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, provided the information is not false or misleading;
- Any listing or entry in a regularly published law list;
- Any advertisement in a telephone directory; or
- Any announcement card stating new or changed associations, new offices, or similar changes relating to an attorney or firm, or a tombstone professional card.
Random Reviews of Lawyer Ads in Connecticut
The law firm must select an attorney whose juris number will be listed as being responsible for the filed advertisement. After the advertisement is electronically file, it may be randomly selected for review to ensure compliance with ethical standards.
The filed advertisement be subject to random review for three (3) months after the filing. If the filed advertisement is selected, then the Statewide Grievance Committee will provide written notice to the attorney. If, during the review, the Statewide Grievance Committee concludes that there is a violation of ethical rules then the attorney will be contacted to negotiate a resolution to the claimed violation.
If the attorney agrees to the resolution then it will not be considered a disciplinary finding. If the claimed violation can not be resolved to the satisfaction of the Statewide Grievance Committee then the issue will be referred to the Chief Disciplinary Counsel's office for a presentment.
Last updated on Tuesday, October 9, 2018.