Navigating the bar rules in the District of Columbia for attorney advertising can be a confusing process. If you make a mistake, you might expose yourself to disciplinary actions. For this reason, considering hiring an internet marketing company that understands the applicable bar rules in the District of Columbia.
If you are preparing to launch a new website or start a new internet marketing strategy, the first step is reading all of the bar rules that might apply. The DC Rules of Professional Conduct for attorney advertising in the District of Columbia were created to ensure that all attorneys that advertise online do so in a fair and honest manner.
In many respects, the bar rules for attorney advertising track closely with the Model Rules from the American Bar Association.
If you are interested in finding an internet marketing and website design company that understands the bar rules, then contact our parent company, Internet Lava, LLC.
Contact us for a free consultation to discuss designing a better website and internet marketing strategy.
DC Bar Rules on Advertising a Lawyer's Services - Visit the website of the District of Columbia Bar to find the new and amended Rules of Professional Conduct: Rule 7.1--Communications Concerning a Lawyer's Services. The rules prohibit false or misleading communications about the attorney or their legal services. Find the comments to those rules and ethics opinions interpreting the rules. Learn more about the recent changes to the rules related to attorney advertising in general, and advertising on websites in particular. The District of Columbia Bar Association is located at:
The District of Columbia Bar
1101 K Street NW, Suite 200
Washington, D.C. 20005-4210
Phone: (202) 737-4700
District of Columbia Courts - The website for the District of Columbia court system provides information on court opinions, facts, and rules about the Washington D.C. court system. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals is located at:
D.C. Court of Appeals
500 Indiana Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20001
Phone: (202) 879-1010
District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct- The website for the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct provides the rules and guidelines for attorney websites and other forms of marketing.
District of Columbia Ethics Opinions- Find the links to ethics opinions, as provided by the District of Columbia Bar, which provides suggested actions to hypothetical legal issues.
Rule 7.1 of the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct governs all communications made by attorneys and law firms that are published on the internet and on websites. This rule outlines the general requirements all lawyers and law firms must abide by when engaging in advertising and solicitation.
According to Rule 7.1, a lawyer is prohibited from making false or misleading communications about their services on any medium, including marketing websites. A communication from the attorney is considered to be "false or misleading" if:
The comments to Rule 7.1 of the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct also discuss statements about past case results and other details about the attorney's services.
The comments state that lawyers should be cautious about using advertisements that include the following information:
These types of statements often create an unjustified expectation to viewers of the advertisement that similar results can be obtained, unless this type of information is suitably qualified.
Therefore, disclaimers about an attorney's services are important because the content describing the past case results should not imply to a prospective client that the attorney will be able to obtain those results in the future or for any specific type of case or client.
If an attorney includes information on their website that has the potential to be false or misleading, such as past case results, client testimonials or client endorsements, it is good practice to include a disclaimer on every page of the attorney's website.
Ideally, the disclaimer or disclosure should be presented with equal prominence to the rest of the content on the website. Including the disclaimer will limit the likelihood of potential clients being misled as to the results the attorney can achieve.
This article was last updated on Friday, May 31, 2019.