Tennessee Bar Rules for Attorney Advertising
Those wishing to start a new Internet marketing campaign must consult the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct related to internet marketing. The rules outline different regulations that attorneys must follow when advertising online. Any legal professional that doesn't follow these regulations may be subject to disciplinary action or fees.
The first step to having an Internet prescene is reading the applicable bar rules for attorney advertising. Any additional information for advertising can be found in the comments to each rule and the advisory ethics opinions interpreting the rules. Although the rules in Tennessee are restrictive, an attorney can stay in full compliance while still having an extremely effective internet marketing campaign. Using marketing techniques such as search engine key terms, attorney directories, social media posts, and participating in lawyer referral services can help boost your online presence.
Resources for Attorney Ads in Tennessee
Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct - Read the ethical rules and rules of professional conduct all attorneys licensed in Tennessee must abide by when engaging in communications or advertisements.
Tennessee Ethical Rules and Opinions - Visit the Tennessee Bar Association website to access the ethical rules and ethics opinions, in addition to an overview of the rules of professional conduct in Tennessee. The Tennessee Bar Association can be contacted at:
Tennessee Bar Association
221 4th Avenue N., Ste. 400
Nashville, TN 37219
Phone: (615) 383-7421
Tennessee Supreme Court - The website for the Tennessee Supreme Court provides general information about the court, court opinions on various legal issues, in addition to court rules in Tennessee.
- Tennessee Bar Rule Guidelines
- Truthful Information on Tennessee Lawyer Websites
- Tennessee Attorney Website Disclaimers
- Practice Areas on Tennessee Legal Websites
Attorney advertisements and other types of communications can include written, recorded or electronic communication, public media, in addition to websites and content published on the internet by the attorney or law firm. These forms of communications by attorneys and law firms are regulated by the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct.
According to Rule 7.2, a copy of all attorney and law firm advertisements must be retained for a period of two years after the advertisement was last used. The attorney must also save information about when and where the ad was used.
The comments to Rule 7.2 of the Rules of Professional Conduct state that an attorney is permitted to advertise the following on their website:
- Name, address and phone number of the attorney or law firm;
- The services the attorney provides;
- The attorney's foreign language ability;
- Names of clients regularly represented (if the attorney has first obtained the client's consent);
- Whether credit cards or other payment services are accepted;
- The prices of specific services;
- Names of references; and/or
- The basis of how fees are determined.
As stated in Rule 7.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney may not make a statement that is false or misleading. The Rule states a communication may be false or misleading if it contains a material representation of law or fact. The statement, even when true, could be considered false or misleading if it omits a fact that is necessary to make a statement (when taken as a whole) not materially misleading.
Examples of misleading truthful statements can include:
- Statements that omit a fact that is necessary to make the attorney's communication not materially misleading when taken as a whole;
- Statements that are substantially likely to cause a reasonable person to create an unfounded specific conclusion about the attorney or the services they provide;
- Past case results of former clients may be misleading if they cause a viewer of the website to create an unjustified expectation that the results could be attained in a similar case; and
- A comparison of the attorney's fees or services to that of another attorney may be misleading if they cannot be factually substantiated.
According to the comments to Rule 7.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct, an appropriate disclaimer or qualifying language should be included when making any statement on the attorney's website if the statement is likely to create an unjustified expectation to the viewer of the website or otherwise mislead the viewer.
A disclaimer or disclosure that is suitable for an attorney's website should appear the same as other content, in the same manner, with equal prominence and with the same legibility as other content on the attorney's website.
According to Rule 7.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney or law firm may state 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, is certified or is recognized as a specialist in a particular field of law, unless:
- The attorney may use the term "Patent Attorney" or something substantially similar if the attorney is admitted to engage in a patent practice before the United State Patent and Trademark Office; or
- The attorney has been certified as a specialist in a field of law by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization;
- The attorney has been certified as a specialist by an organization recognized or accredited by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization.
An attorney who has been certified as a specialist must include one of the following disclosures on their website:
- "[Attorney] is certified as a specialist in [field of law] by the Tennessee Commission on C.L.E. and Specialization," or
- "[Attorney] is certified as a specialist in [field of law] by [organization]."
This article was last updated on Wednesday, October 10, 2018.