Iowa Bar Rules for Attorney Advertising
If you are interested in redesigning your law firm's website or starting a new internet marketing campaign, then it's important that you pay attention to the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct. These rules are to ensure that all attorneys can market themselves fairly and honestly. Failure to follow these regulations may result in disciplinary measures by the Iowa Bar.
The applicable rules of the Iowa Bar outline what an attorney can and cannot do while advertising online. Many of the rules related to attorney advertising online in Iowa 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. All additional information can be found in the comments to the rules and formal ethics opinions.
Although the rules in the State of Iowa are restrictive, an attorney can stay in full compliance while still having an extremely effective internet marketing campaign. Staying ethical is important for your practice and help you avoid any issues with the Bar. Additionally, you can use techniques like understanding key terms and search enginge algorithims to boost your website's presence.
Information on Iowa Rules on Attorney Advertising
Iowa State Bar Association Website - Visit the website for the Iowa State Bar Association's for information pertaining 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
Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct - This link is to the Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct, which provides the rules that regulate attorney website advertisement and marketing.
Iowa Ethics Opinions - This link is to ethics opinions, as provided by the Iowa Bar Association, which gives suggested actions to hypothetical legal situations. Although these opinions are not mandatory, they are suggested guidelines attorneys should follow.
Iowa Bar Rules Information Center
- Iowa Bar Rules General Guidelines
- Iowa Attorney Website with False or Misleading Information
- Iowa Attorney Websites with Past Case Results
- Using "Specialist" or "Certified" on Iowa Attorney Websites
Iowa Bar Rules Guidelines
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.
Iowa Attorney Website with False or Misleading Information
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.
Iowa Attorney Websites with Past Case Results
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.
Using "Specialist" or "Certified" on Iowa Attorney Websites
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:
- The attorney has been certified as a specialist by an organization that has been approved by the Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Board; and
- The name of the organization has been clearly communicated on the website.
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 Wednesday, October 10, 2018.