Illinois Bar Rules for Attorney Advertising

Are you interested in redesigning or beginning a website for your law firm? Attorneys who wish to advertise must consult the Illinois Bar Rules relating to Internet marketing. The Bar Rules outlines regulations for lawyers to follow when they are marketing on the Internet. Failure to follow these rules may result in a type of disciplinary action. 

The first step to advertising for attorneys is reading the applicable bar rules pertaining to attorney advertising. Many of the rules related to attorney advertising online in Illinois can be found at Rule 7.1 through Rule 7.5 in the section for Information About Legal Services. These rules govern the promotion of the law-related services and deal with advertising and solicitation. Additional information can be found in the comments to the rules and formal ethics opinions.

Although the rules in the State of Illinois are restrictive, an attorney can stay in full compliance while still having an extremely effective internet marketing campaign. Using relevant marketing techiqnues such as search engine key terms, meta titles and descriptions, and other means can help you boost your website among search engines. 

Illinois Bar Rules Resources

Illinois State Bar Association Website - Visit the Illinois State Bar Association's website for information pertaining to the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, ethics opinions and an ethics hotline. The Illinois Bar Association is located at:

Springfield Office of the ISBA
Illinois Bar Center
424 S. Second Street
Springfield, IL 62701
Phone: (217) 525-1760
Chicago Regional Office of the ISBA
20 S. Clark St., Ste. 900
Chicago, IL 60603

Illinois Courts - Find information about the courts in Illinois, rules and laws that regulate the legal system, and opinions on various legal issues by the Supreme Court of Illinois. The Supreme Court of Illinois is located at:

Supreme Court Building
200 E. Capitol
Springfield, IL 62701
Phone: (217) 782-2035

ISBA Ethics Advisory Opinions - Search the ethics advisory opinions on the Illinois State Bar Association website. Find ethics advice to attorneys in Illinois regarding hypothetical legal situations.

Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct - Read the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct and find information on the rules that regulate attorney website advertisement and marketing.

Illinois Bar Rules Information Center

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Illinois Bar Rules Guidelines for Attorney Websites

The Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct govern attorney and law firm communications and advertisements that are published on the internet and online. These rules provide general requirements all lawyers and law firms must abide by when engaging in advertising and marketing efforts.

According to the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 7.2, an attorney must include the name and address of at least one lawyer or law firm that is responsible for the content on any communication that is an advertisement, including websites.

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False or Misleading Information on Illinois Lawyer Websites

According to Rule 7.1 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney or law firm is prohibited from making false or misleading communication about the lawyer or their services.

According to the Rules, an attorney's communication is false or misleading if it contains a misrepresentation of fact or law that is material or the communication fails to include a fact that is necessary to make the statement not materially misleading when taken as a whole.

Additionally, the comments to Rule 7.1 state that misleading truthful statements are also prohibited. A truthful statement can be misleading to the viewer of the website if there is a substantial probability a reasonable person would create a specific conclusion about the attorney's services.

Also, under Rule 7.4, an attorney may state on their website whether they do or do not practice in particular fields of law. However, they may not use the terms, "certified," "expert," "specialist," or any other similar term to describe the attorney's qualifications as a lawyer. If those terms are used on any recognition, awards or certificates issued by an organization, association or agency, the reference must:

  • Be truthful, verifiable and not misleading; and
  • State the Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law, and the recognition is not required to practice law in Illinois.

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Past Case Results on Illinois Law Firm Websites

The Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct state that an attorney's success on behalf of current or former clients may be misleading, and therefore should be avoiding on the attorney's or law firm's website if:

  • A reasonable person would be mislead to create an unjustified expectation that the same results could be achieved for in a prospective client's similar legal matters.

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Disclaimers on Illinois Attorney Websites

Attorneys and law firms in Illinois should add a disclaimer on each page of their internet website. A disclaimer should, at a minimum, include the following language:

  • "The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and the certificate, award or recognition is not a requirement to practice law in Illinois."
  • "The information on this website is for general purposes only and should not be interpreted to indicate a certain result will occur in your specific legal situation."
  • "The information on this website is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship."

Last updated on Wednesday, October 10, 2018.