Navigating the bar rules in Iowa for attorney advertising can be a confusing process. If you make a mistake, you might expose yourself to disciplinary actions. For this reason, it is important to hire an internet marketing company that understands the applicable bar rules in Iowa for your website and social media platforms.
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 Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct related to attorney advertising were created to ensure that all attorneys that advertise online do so in a fair and honest manner.
Many of the rules related to attorney advertising online in Iowa can be found at Rule 32:7.1 through Rule 32:7.6 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.
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 applicable bar rules.
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. Call 1-800-292-5282.
Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct- Visit the website of the Iowa Legislature to find the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct that regulate attorney website advertisement and marketing.
Iowa Ethics Opinions- Visit the website for the Iowa State Bar Association's website to find links to ethics opinions. The opinions give suggested actions to hypothetical legal situations. Although these opinions are not mandatory, they are suggested guidelines attorneys should follow. Find links to the Rules of Professional Conduct, ethics opinions and an ethics hotline. The Iowa Bar State Association is located at:
The Iowa State Bar Association
625 East Court Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Phone: (515) 243-3179
Iowa Judicial Branch - The Iowa Judicial Branch website provides information on court rules and forms, advisory opinions and online court services. The Supreme Court is located at:
Iowa Supreme Court
1111 East Court Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Phone: (515) 281-5911
The Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct regulate all communication and advertisements by an attorney or law firm, including advertising and marketing websites, electronic communications, social media and content published on the internet.
Rule 32:7.1 of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct address communications concerning a lawyer's services including advertising and marketing. Rule 32:7.2 specifically governs all advertising efforts make by a lawyer or law firm.
The comments section of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct state that an attorney's advertisement that the attorney publishes or causes to be published should be relevant, dignified and disseminated in an objective and understandable fashion that would assist a prospective client to make an informed choice about legal representation.
According to Rule 32:7.2 of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct, the name of at least one law firm or lawyer who is responsible for the content must be included in the advertisement, including law firm or attorney websites. Additionally, the law firm or lawyer's office must be included in the advertisement.
Additionally, as stated in Rule 32:7.1(f), an attorney must keep a copy of any advertisements that appeared on the internet for three years, and the date and name of the publication in which it appeared or the name of the medium in which it was aired. Also, an attorney's website in Iowa is required to have a disclosure on the home page in 9-point type or larger that the website is only a form of advertisement.
According to Rule 32: 7.1 of the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct, attorneys are prohibited from using false or misleading information about their services in any communication, including websites that are used for advertising and marketing. Specifically, a lawyer shall not make false or misleading communication about their services. A communications is generally considered false or misleading if it contains material that misrepresents a fact or law or omits a fact necessary to make the statement as a whole not materially misleading.
Additionally, an attorney is required to make any communication concerning their services to be truthful and verifiable.
Any communication involving advertising, including websites are not permitted to rely on emotional appeal or contain any statement or claim that relates to the quality of the lawyer's services.
According to the comments section of Rule 32:7.1, an attorney should not advertise in a way that gives a prospective client false hopes of a certain success or any form of undue expectation. Therefore, the use of disclaimers about past case results on the attorney's website are important to inform a prospective client that past case results do not indicate the outcome of their case and that case results are not typical.
Special rules apply to an Iowa attorney who is designated as a board certified specialist. According to Rule 32:7.4, a lawyer is prohibited from stating or implying they are certified or a specialist in a specific area of law on their website or any other communication on the internet unless:
Additionally, under Rule 32:7.4(e), if an attorney desires to state their practice is limited to a certain area of law on their website, that they primarily practice in certain areas of law on their website, or they claim to practice in certain areas on their website, they must meet certain requirements for the amount of time spent practicing in that field of law.
However, an attorney that claims their practice is a "general practice included but not limited to" followed by various practice areas does not have to comply with the practice area time requirements.
This article was last updated on Friday, May 31, 2019.