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Michigan Bar Rules for Attorney Advertising

The rules in the State of Michigan for attorney advertising are codified in the Michigan Lawyer's Rules of Professional Conduct. The bar rules in Michigan govern attorney advertisement. Before redesigning your law firm's website or beginning a new internet marketing campaign, it is important to read the rules in their entirety. 

Many of the rules related to attorney advertising in the State of Michigan can be found in the section on "Information About Legal Services" that govern the promotion of the law-related services and deal with advertising and solicitation. Additional guidance can be found in the comments to each rule and the reporter's notes. In many respects, the rules track closely with the Model Rules from the American Bar Association.

Before launching the website, the attorney in Michigan should make sure that the website is in full compliance with all applicable bar rules. Any failure to do so can result in a disciplinary action or sanctions against the attorney. For this reason, it is important to hire an internet marketing company that understands the applicable bar rules in Michigan for your law firm's website.

Starting September 1, 2019, new rules from Michigan Supreme Court will change advertising requirements for lawyers and law firms. The amendment to Rule 7.2 of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct in subsection (d) now provides:

“For purposes of media advertising, services of a lawyer or law firm that are advertised under the heading of a phone number, web address, icon, or trade name shall identify the name and contact information of at least one lawyer responsible for the content of the advertisement. The identification shall appear on or in the advertisement itself; or, if that is not practical due to space limitations, the identification shall be prominently displayed on the home page of the law firm’s website and any other website used by the law firm for advertising purposes."

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.

Bar Rules Resources for Attorneys in Michigan

Bar Rules for Attorney Advertising in Michigan - Visit the website of the Michigan Courts to find the Model Rules of the Michigan Supreme Court related to attorney advertising. These rules apply to advertising on websites and internet social media platforms. The State Bar of Michigan can be contacted at:

State Bar of Michigan
Michael Franck Building
306 Townsend St.
Lansing, MI 48933
Phone: (517) 346-6300

Michigan Ethics Opinions - Visit the website for the State Bar of Michigan to find ethics opinions to help attorneys understand their ethical obligations related to hypothetical legal situations. Although these opinions are not mandatory, they are suggested guidelines lawyers in Michigan should follow. Find access to an ethics helpline for attorneys with questions regarding ethics issues. The service is provided ot help Michigan lawyers research ethics opinions without charge. Find a full index to Michigan professional and judicial ethics opinions with links to all ethics opinions released since October 1988.

Michigan Supreme Court- Visit the website of the Michigan Supreme Court to find information on the court rules in Michigan, court opinions on various legal topics, and other miscellaneous information about the court. The Supreme Court is located at:

Michigan Hall of Justice
925 West Ottawa
Lansing, Michigan 48915
Phone: (517) 373-0120

Michigan Bar Rules Information Center

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Michigan Bar Rule Guidelines

In general the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct govern attorney and law firm content that is published on the internet, in addition to attorney or law firm advertising and marketing websites.

Typically an attorney's or law firm's website in Michigan requires at least one attorney's name to be published on the website that is responsible for the content on the website. This does not mean the attorney must write the content, but that they are ultimately responsible for the content. Also, the attorney or law firm's address where they primarily practice should be included on the website.

Additionally, according to Rule 7.2, a copy of attorney advertisements in Michigan must be kept for two years after the advertisement was last used, in addition to a record of where and when it was last used.

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Prohibited Language on Michigan Legal Websites

Generally, an attorney must not make any communications that are not false, fraudulent, misleading or deceptive, according to Rule 7.1 of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct. The rule further state that an attorney must not make any type of communication, including on a website, that:

  • Contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law;
  • Omits a fact necessary to make the statement not misleading when taken as a whole;
  • Creates an unjustified expectation about the results the attorney is able to achieve; or
  • Compares the attorney's services to that of another, unless the comparison can be verified through facts.

Additionally, according to the comments of Rule 7.1, statements that may create an unjustified expectation as to the attorney's services can include:

  • Results previously obtained on a client's behalf,
  • The lawyer's record in obtaining favorable verdicts,
  • The amount of the damage award in any given case, and
  • Any other advertisement containing a client endorsement.

According to the comments to Rule 7.2, an attorney or law firm may not pay another person or party to recommend their services, except in the case of another organization who recommends the attorney's services, such as a legal aid agency or a prepaid legal services plan.

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Disclaimers on Law Firm Websites in Michigan

If an attorney in Michigan includes information on their website that has the potential to be false or misleading, it is generally a good idea to include a disclaimer on the website to correct that potential problem.

The website's disclaimer or disclosure should be presented with equal legibility, prominence and in the same manner as the rest of the website's content. This type of disclaimer will limit the potential of possible clients from being mislead as to the results the attorney is able to attain.

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Practice Areas on Michigan Attorney Websites

According to Rule 7.4 of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney is permitted to communicate on their website that they do or do not practice in a particular area of law.

However, when indicating what type of practice area the lawyer works in, they must not include information that can be false or misleading under Rule 7.1. For example, a lawyer should not state they are "specialized" or a "specialist" in certain areas of the law, unless they are certified by the proper authority in the particular area of law they are claiming to be specialized or a specialist in. For this reason, attorneys in Michigan who are board certified specialist must also follow special rules when disclosing that fact.

Special bar rules also apply to attorneys using a lawyer referral service in Michigan.

This article was last updated on Friday, May 31, 2019.