May a Lawyer Use a Client’s Name in Advertisements?

Yes, but only with permission. The Supreme Court of South Carolina recently added a new comment to the the state’s rules of professional conduct “reminding lawyers that Rule 1.6 requires lawyers obtain informed consent from clients before revealing information about the representation to advertise their services.” See Amendments to Rules of Professional Conduct, No. 2018-537 (Jun. 5, 2019).

What was the court’s rationale? “Disclosure of information related to the representation of a client for the purpose of marketing or advertising the lawyer’s services is not impliedly authorized because the disclosure is being made to promote the lawyer or law firm rather than to carry out the representation of a client.” Id. Moreover, the court noted that this “restriction applies regardless of whether the information is contained in court filings or has become generally known.” Therefore, a lawyer may use a client’s name in advertisments only “when the lawyer seeks informed consent in accordance with Rule 1.0(g).”1

Louisiana lawyers probably should follow this advice. First, the reasoning of the South Carolina Supreme Court is sound. Second, Louisiana’s professional conduct standards are based largely on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Those model rules include commentary advising that a lawyer may publicly disseminate the “names of clients regularly represented”–but only “with their consent.” See ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct r. 7.2, cmt. 1. So, if you would like to use your client’s name in an ad, simply ask first.

  1. The court noted that “a number of factors may affect a client’s decision to provide informed consent, including the client’s level of sophistication, the content of any lawyer advertisement and the timing of the request. General, open-ended consent is not sufficient.”
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