Massachusetts Bar Rules for Attorney Advertising

Attorneys and law firms are always looking for new ways to advertise themselves to their clients. Attorney advertising is subject to regulation by the bar rules in the state. The Massachusetts Bar set forth rules to provide professional conduct and ethical guidelines that all Massachusetts attorneys must follow when engaging in various forms of advertising.

Before you redesign your website or start a new internet marketing campaign, it's important that you consult the Massachusetts Bar Rules related to Internet marketing. Failure to uphold these rules and regulations may lead to disciplinary action or fees from the Bar. However, you can still have a successful Internet marketing campaign. Using tools such as search engine terms, lawyer referral services, and social media can help you boost your online presence. 

Massachusetts Bar Rules Resources

Massachusetts Bar Association - Visit the Massachusetts Bar Association's website for helpful information and resources regarding the bar rules in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Bar Association can be contacted at:

Massachusetts Bar Association
20 West St.
Boston, MA 02111
Phone: (617) 338-0500
Massachusetts Bar Association
73 State St.
Springfield, MA 01103
Phone: (413) 731-5134

Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct - Read the general rules of professional conduct and ethics all licensed Massachusetts lawyers must follow.

Massachusetts Ethical Inquiries - Find answers to attorney ethical questions and inquiries in Massachusetts, in addition to published opinions regarding ethical issues that provide suggested actions to attorneys in various legal situations.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court - Visit the website for the Supreme Judicial Court, which provides information on various court rules in Massachusetts, court opinions and miscellaneous information about the court. The Supreme Judicial Court is located at:

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
John Adams Courthouse
One Pemberton Square, Suite 2500
Boston, Massachusetts 02102
Phone: (617) 557-1000

Massachusetts Bar Rules Information Center

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Massachusetts Bar Rule Guidelines

The Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct broadly govern all advertisements and communications made by attorneys and law firms in the state. Generally, legal websites and any other content published on the internet by lawyers are considered a type of communication and an advertisement, according to the Comments to Rule 7.2.

Under Rule 7.2, an attorney's website must have the name of the lawyer, law firm or group of lawyers who is responsible for the content on the website.

Additionally, the Rules state an attorney must keep a copy or recording of any advertisement for two years after it was last used, in addition to a statement of when and where it was used.

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False or Misleading Language on Massachusetts Law Firm Websites

According to Rule 7.1 of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney is prohibited from making any false or misleading statements about the lawyer or their services. Generally, a communication is considered to be misleading or false if:

  • The statement contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or
  • The statement omits a fact necessary to make a statement materially misleading when taken as a whole.

The Comments to this rule state that every statement made by attorney should be truthful, and any statement that compares the attorney's services to another attorney's services may considered be false or misleading. Also, any statement that may create an unjustified expectation as to the results the attorney is able to achieve may be considered false or misleading.

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Fields of Practice on Massachusetts Attorney Websites

A lawyer in Massachusetts may not claim they are a specialist in any particular legal field, areas of law or in any other legal services, unless the statement is truthful, according to Rule 7.4. For example, an attorney may not:

  • Advertise in directory listings identified by a particular service, field or area of law, if the assertion is false or misleading;
  • Claim they concentrate in, specialize in, are certified in, have expertise in or are limited practice in a certain field or area of law, if the statement is false or misleading; or
  • Claim any other association in a particular area of law or practice area, if the claim is false or misleading.

If any of the preceding statements or claims made by the attorney are truthful, they are permitted to make the assertion.

Any attorney who does claim they are certified in a particular field of law or practice area must identify the certifying governmental body or organization and include the statement that the organization is, "a private organization, whose standards for certification are not regulated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

Rule 7.4 also states that attorneys who want to be associated with a particular area of practice or field of law who are not experts or specialists in the field should state they "welcome" or "handle" cases, "but are not specialists in," that particular field.

This article was last updated on October 10, 2018.