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Virginia Bar Rules for Attorney Advertising

Before you redesign your law firm's website or start a new internet marketing campaign, you should pay attention to the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct related to internet marketing. Here you can read the applicable bar rules for attorney advertising. Any additional information can be found in the comments to each rule and the advisory ethics opinions interpreting the rules.

Although the rules in the State of Virginia are restrictive, a lawyer practicing in Virginia can stay in full compliance while still having an extremely effective internet marketing campaign. It is possible to be ethical and create a strong Internet presence for your site. 

Resources on Bar Rules in Virginia

Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct - Find the rules of professional conduct and ethics for attorneys in the State of Virginia.

Virginia Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation - Read more about legal advertising and solicitation for advertising prescreening, advertising opinions and a checklist for attorney advertisements, as provided by the Virginia State Bar. The Virginia State Bar can be contacted at:

Virginia State Bar
707 East Main Street, Suite 1500
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Phone: (804) 775-0500

Virginia Ethics Opinions and Questions - Information on advisory ethical opinions in Virginia. Find suggestions for a variety of situations confronting attorneys with the contact information for the legal ethics hotline.

Virginia's Judicial System - Visit Virginia's Judicial System websites for information on the courts in Virginia, court opinions on various legal topics and rules of the court. The Supreme Court is located at:

Supreme Court of Virginia
100 North Ninth Street, 5th Floor
Richmond, Virginia 23219
Phone: (804) 786-2251

Virginia Bar Rules Information Center

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Virginia Bar Rules Guidelines

The Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct govern all attorney and website advertisements and communications, including websites and information on the internet. Rule 7.2 states an attorney may advertise their services through any written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media.

Under Rule 7.2, any electronic media advertisement must first be approved by the attorney before it's published, and a copy must be retained by the attorney for one year after it's published, along with information about where and when it was used.

Additionally, according to Rule 7.2, at least one attorney who is responsible for the advertisement must include the full name and address of an attorney license to practice law in Virginia who is responsible for the content. Or, a law firm may file a written statement with the Virginia State Bar that identifies the party responsible for the advertisement and their office address.

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False and Misleading Information on Virginia Attorney Websites

Under Rule 7.1 of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney must not make any statement, communication, or advertisement that may be false, deceptive, fraudulent, or misleading.

Additionally, an advertisement may be considered false or misleading if:

  • It states or implies the outcome of a particular legal matter;
  • Compares the services of the lawyer to that of another, unless the statement can be factually verified; or
  • It will likely create an unjustified expectation to the website's viewer or potential clients that the attorney can achieve certain results.

According to the Comments of Rule 7.1, misleading truthful statements are also prohibited. A truthful statement that is misleading is one that omits certain information or facts that makes a statement materially misleading as a whole. Additionally, a truthful state can be misleading if a reasonable person is substantially likely to create an unfounded, specific conclusion about the attorney's services from the information.

The Comments to Rule 7.1 also state that an unverifiable comparison of an attorney's fees or services with that of another attorney may be misleading if a reasonable person would conclude the comparison can be proven.

Additionally, the Comments to Rule 7.2 state an attorney or law firm should not give opinions in advertisements and communications, nor should the attorney use any type of self laudation. The information in advertisements and communication should only be useful and helpful to a person viewing the website. This type of information can include:

  • Office information;
  • Biographical information; and
  • Practice description.

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Virginia Legal Website Disclaimers

Under Rule 7.2 of the Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney is required to include a disclaimer about specific or cumulative case results so as not to make the case results misleading. The attorney is required to state the case results depend on several factors that are unique to each case, and that the case results do not guarantee or predict the potential client may attain similar results in their particular case.

Additionally, Rule 7.2 states all written or e-mail communication must assert the statement or communication is advertising material.

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Virginia Law Firm Website Practice Areas

Under Rule 7.4, an attorney may state whether they practice in a particular legal area or not. However, this rule prohibits an attorney from stating or implying they have been recognized as a specialist or certified in any particular legal field, except:

The comments to Rule 7.4 also state the use of the following terms may be perceived as false or misleading:

  • Expert;
  • Specialist;
  • Specialty; or
  • Specializes.

Additional Resources

Legal Organizations and Associations in Virginia - Find a list of legal organizations and associations in the state of Virginia. Locate information on the state bar, the state bar association, and more than 100 other voluntary bar associations organized on a regional basis, or with a minority or specialty focus.

This article was last updated on Monday, December 23, 2019.