(a) Permissible Forms of Advertising. Subject to all the requirements set forth in these Rules, including the filing requirements of Rule 7.7, a lawyer may advertise services through public media, including but not limited to: print media, such as a telephone directory, legal directory, newspaper or other periodical; outdoor advertising, such as billboards and other signs; radio, television, and computer-accessed communications; recorded messages the public may access by dialing a telephone number; and written communication in accordance with Rule 7.4.

(b) Advertisements Not Disseminated in Louisiana. These Rules shall not apply to any advertisement broadcast or disseminated in another jurisdiction in which the advertising lawyer is admitted if such advertisement complies with the Rules governing lawyer advertising in that jurisdiction and is not intended for broadcast or dissemination within the state of Louisiana.

(c) Communications for Non-Profit Organizations. Publications, educational materials, websites and other communications by lawyers on behalf of non-profit organizations that are not motivated by pecuniary gain are not advertisements or unsolicited written communications within the meaning of these Rules.

Background

The Louisiana Supreme Court adopted this rule on June 26, 2008. It became effective October 1, 2009.

The LSBA has stated that “[a]ll inquiries regarding the new lawyer advertising rules (whether for lawyer advertising within LSBA publications or for lawyer advertising in outside media outlets) should be directed to Richard P. Lemmler, Jr., Ethics Counsel, Louisiana State Bar Association, 601 St. Charles Avemue, New Orleans, LA 70130; toll free: 1-800-421-LSBA (5722), ext. 144; direct dial: (504) 619-0144; fax: (504) 598-6753. The LSBA website for lawyer advertising is: http://www.lsba.org/Members/LawyerAdvertising.aspx.

Comments to ABA Model Rule 7.1

[1]  This Rule governs all communications about a lawyer’s services, including advertising permitted by Rule 7.2.  Whatever means are used to make known a lawyer’s services, statements about them must be truthful.

[2]  Truthful statements that are misleading are also prohibited by this Rule.  A truthful statement is misleading if it omits a fact necessary to make the lawyer’s communication considered as a whole not materially misleading.  A truthful statement is also misleading if there is a substantial likelihood that it will lead a reasonable person to formulate a specific conclusion about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services for which there is no reasonable factual foundation.

[3]  An advertisement that truthfully reports a lawyer’s achievements on behalf of clients or former clients may be misleading if presented as to lead a reasonable person to form an unjustified expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client’s case.  Similarly, an unsubstantiated comparison of the lawyer’s services or fees with the services or feeds of other lawyers may be misleading if presented with such specificity as would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the comparison can be substantiated.  The inclusion of an appropriated disclaimer or qualifying language may preclude a finding that a statement is likely to create unjustified expectations or otherwise mislead the public.

[4]  Se also Rule 8.4(e) for the prohibition against stating or implying an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

Annotations

LSBA Resources

The Louisiana State Bar Association has assembled materials relating to lawyer advertising here: LSBA Resources on Lawyer Advertising. Among other resources, the LSBA has created a “Handbook on Lawyer Advertising and Solicitation” to help Louisiana lawyers understand the new advertising provisions that became effective on October 1, 2009. The handbook includes, among other things:

  1. An overview of applicable regulations broken down by the type of advertisement/communication to which they apply.
  2. A reproduction of the actual Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct that deal with lawyer advertising and solicitation.
  3. Answers to frequently asked questions about lawyer advertising regulations.
  4. A Quick Reference Checklist for lawyer advertisers.
  5. Examples of exempt and non-exempt, compliant and non-compliant print advertisements and unsolicited written communications.

The handbook is available at: http://www.lsba.org/Members/lawyeradvertising.aspx.

ABA Aspirational Goals

In 1988, the ABA adopted aspirational goals to provide nonbinding guidance to lawyers who advertise. See ABA Aspirational Goals on Lawyer Advertising (1988). The ABA noted that these aspirational goals were “not intended to establish mandatory requirements which might form the basis for disciplinary enforcement.” Rather, the goals were “intended to provide suggested objectives which all lawyers who engage in advertising their services should be encouraged to achieve in order that lawyer advertising may be more effective and reflect the professionalism of the legal community.” See id.

Federal Litigation

Note that several of the advertising rules that became effective on October 1, 2009 were the subject of First Amendment litigation in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. See, e.g., Public Citizen, Inc.  v. La. Atty. Disciplinary Bd., 642 F. Supp. 2d 539 (E. D. La. 2009); aff’d, Public Citizen v. La. Atty. Disciplinary Bd., 632 F. 3d 212 (5th Cir. 2011) (“The court affirmed the district court, finding that Rule 7.2(c)(1)(E), 7.2(c)(1)(I), and 7.2(c)(1)(L) did not regulate attorneys’ commercial speech in a way that violated the First Amendment.  In reversing the district court, the court found that Rule 7.2(c)(1)(D), 7.2(c)(1)(J), and 7.2(c)(10) did violate the First Amendment.”).  In that litigation, the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals declared several provisions in Louisiana Rules 7.5, 7.6 and 7.7 to be unconstitutional and unenforceable. Please see the sections containing those rules for additional details.

Notes

This page was updated on January 25, 2018.