Maryland Bar Rules for Attorney Advertising
The rules in the State of Maryland for attorney advertising are codified in the Maryland Lawyer's Rules of Professional Conduct. These rules are set forth by the Maryland Bar outline what an attorney can and cannot advertise online for their firm. Before redesigning your law firm's website or beginning a new internet marketing campaign, it is important to read the rules in their entirety.
Some rules by the Maryland Bar may seem restrictive in their nature. In addition, any attorney or firm that does not follow these rules may be disciplined or be forced to pay fines. However, it's possible to advertise effectively online while following the Maryland Bar rules. You can do this through researching search engine algoritihims, joining a lawyer referral service, and other Interent marketing tactics.
Maryland Bar Rules Resources
The Maryland State Bar Association, Inc. - Visit the Maryland State Bar Association's (MSBA) website which provides information about the bar association and legal information to attorneys in Maryland, including the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct, ethics opinions, and miscellaneous information pertaining to the practice of law in Maryland. The Maryland State Bar Association is located at:
520 W. Fayette Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
Phone: (410) 685-7878
Maryland Court of Appeals -Visit the website for the Court of Appeals which is the highest state court in Maryland. Read reported and unreported court opinions regarding the court system in Maryland. The Court of Appeals is located at:
Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building
361 Rowe Boulevard
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Phone: (410) 260-1500
Maryland Lawyer's Rules of Professional Conduct -Read the Rules of Professional Conduct for Lawyers in Maryland in their entirety.
Maryland Ethics Opinions -Find opinions on attorney ethical situations in Maryland provided by the Maryland State Bar Association.
- General Maryland Bar Rules Guidelines
- False and Misleading Information on Maryland Law Firm Websites
- Maryland Attorney Website Disclaimers
- Practice Areas on Maryland Lawyer Websites
General Guidelines Maryland Bar Rules Guidelines
In general, an attorney in Maryland is permitted to advertise their services through the use of public media, including websites.
According to Rule 7.2 of the Lawyer's Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney is required to keep a copy of an advertisement or communication for at least three years after it was last used, along with a record of when and where it was used.
Additionally, Rule 7.2 of the Rules states that any advertisement or communication made by the attorney must contain the name of at least one lawyer who is responsible for the content.
False and Misleading Information on Maryland Law Firm Websites
According to Rule 7.1 of the Maryland Lawyer's Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney's website cannot contain any statements or claims about the attorney or their services that are false or misleading. Statements can be false or misleading if:
- The communication contains any material misrepresentation of law or fact;
- The communication omits any fact necessary to not make the statement materially misleading when taken as a whole;
- The communication is likely to create an unjustified expectation about the results the attorney can achieve; or
- The communication compares the services of the attorney with that of another, unless the statement can be verified.
Maryland Attorney Website Disclaimers
Although there is not a bar rule in Maryland that specifically states whether an attorney's website should include a disclaimer, as a general rule, all attorneys should have some type of disclaimer or other qualifying language on their website so as not to create an unjustified expectation to the viewer of the website or any potential clients.
A disclaimer or disclosure that is appropriate should appear in the same manner, with equal prominence and with the same legibility as other content on the website.
Rule 7.2 states that any advertisement that states no fee will be charged, must include whether the client will be responsible for any expenses. To not include this disclaimer could be considered false and misleading.
Practice Areas on Maryland Lawyer Websites
According to Rule 7.4 of the Maryland Lawyer's Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney or law firm is permitted to indicate on their website whether they do or do not practice in a particular field of law.
However, an attorney may not state they are a specialist, specializes in or is certified in an area of law, unless they are admitted to engage in patent practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In this instance, they can state they are a "Patent Attorney" or something else that is substantially similar.
This article was last updated on October 9, 2018.