District Of Columbia
DC Bar Rules for Attorney Advertising
In the District of Columbia, law firm and attorney websites are generally considered to be a form of advertisement. These internet websites are subject to a varity of bar rules and regulations set forth by the District of Columbia Bar. It is important for lawyers in Washington D.C., to pay particular attention to the applicable rules.
It's vital that you read the rules before redesigning the website or starting a new internet marketing campaign. Additional information can be found in the comments to each rule and the ethics opinions interpreting the rules. Some of the advertising rules may seem restrictive, but attorneys must follow them to avoid any disciplinary actions. However, you can still maintain a strong Internet presence wihile staying in compliance. Using search engine terms, participating in a lawyer referral service, and understanding Internet marketing techniques can give your website more traffic.
District of Columbia Bar Rules Resources
District of Columbia Bar Association - Visit the website for the District of Columbia Bar Association to find the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct, comments to those rules, and ethics opinions. 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.
District of Columbia Bar Rules Information Center
- District of Columbia Bar Rules Guidelines
- False or Misleading Information on District of Columbia Legal Websites
- District of Columbia Law Firm Website Past Case Results
- District of Columbia Disclaimers on Websites
District of Columbia Bar Rules Guidelines
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.
False, Deceptive or Misleading Information on District of Columbia Legal Websites
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 communications is generally considered false or misleading if:
- It contains a material representation of law or fact;
- It omits a fact necessary to make a statement not materially misleading when taken as a whole; or
- It contains statements or assertions about the attorney or their services that cannot be verified.
District of Columbia Law Firm Website Past Case Results
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:
- The lawyer's record in obtaining favorable verdicts,
- Damage awards; and
- Client endorsements.
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 inclusion of past case results should not imply to a prospective client that the attorney will be able to obtain such results in the future or for any specific type of case or client.
District of Columbia Disclaimers on Websites
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 mislead as to the results the attorney can achieve.
This article was last updateed on October 9, 2018.