Rules of Professional Conduct

7. Information About Legal Services

ER 7.2. Advertising

(a) Subject to the requirements of ERs 7.1 and 7.3, a lawyer may advertise services through written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media.

(b) A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer's services except that a lawyer may:

(1) pay the reasonable costs of advertisements or communications permitted by this Rule:
(2) pay the usual charges of a legal service plan or a not-for-profit or qualified lawyer referral service, which may include, in addition to any membership fee, a fee calculated as a percentage of legal fees earned by the lawyer to whom the service or organization has referred a matter, provided that any such percentage fee shall not exceed ten percent, and shall be used only to help defray the reasonable operating expenses of the service or organization and to fund public service activities, including the delivery of pro bono legal services. The fees paid by a client referred by such service shall not exceed the total charges that the client would have paid had no such service been involved. A qualified lawyer referral service is a lawyer referral service that has been approved by an appropriate regulatory authority; and
(3) pay for a law practice in accordance with ER 1.17.

(c) Any communication made pursuant to this Rule shall include the name and contact information for at least one lawyer or law firm responsible for its content.

(d) Every advertisement (including advertisement by written solicitation) that contains information about the lawyer's fees shall be subject to the following requirements:

(1) advertisements and written solicitations indicating that the charging of a fee is contingent on outcome or that the fee will be a percentage of the recovery shall disclose (A) that the client will be liable for expenses regardless of outcome unless the repayment of such is contingent upon the outcome of the matter and (B) whether the percentage fee will be computed before expenses are deducted from the recovery;

(2) range of fees or hourly rates for services may be communicated provided that the client is informed in writing at the commencement of any client-lawyer relationship that the total fee within the range which will be charged or the total hours to be devoted will vary depending upon that particular matter to be handled for each client and the client is entitled without obligation to an estimate of the fee within the range likely to be charged;

(3) fixed fees for specific routine legal services, the description of which would not be misunderstood or be deceptive, may be communicated provided that the client is informed in writing at the commencement of any client-lawyer relationship that the quoted fee will be available only to clients whose matters fall within the services described and that the client is entitled without obligation to a specific estimate of the fee likely to be charged;

(4) a lawyer who advertises a specific fee, range of fees or hourly rate for a particular service shall honor the advertised fee, or range of fees, for at least ninety (90) days unless the advertisement specifies a shorter period; provided, for advertisements in the yellow pages of telephone directories or other media not published more frequently than annually, the advertised fee or range of fees shall be honored for no less than one year following publication.

(e) Advertisements on the electronic media may contain the same information as permitted in advertisements in the print media. If a law firm advertises on electronic media and a person appears purporting to be a lawyer, such person shall in fact be a lawyer employed full-time at the advertising law firm. If a law firm advertises a particular legal service on electronic media, and a lawyer appears as the person purporting to render the service, the lawyer appearing shall be the lawyer who will actually perform the service advertised unless the advertisement discloses that the service may be performed by other lawyers in the firm.

(f) Communications required by paragraphs (c) and (d) shall be clear and conspicuous. To be “clear and conspicuous” a communication must be of such size, color, contrast, location, duration, cadence, and audibility that an ordinary person can readily notice, read, hear, and understand it.

COMMENT [2003 RULE]

[1] To assist the public in obtaining legal services, lawyers should be allowed to make known their services not only through reputation but also through organized information campaigns in the form of advertising. Advertising involves an active quest for clients, contrary to the tradition that a lawyer should not seek clientele. However, the public's need to know about legal services can be fulfilled in part through advertising. This need is particularly acute in the case of persons of moderate means who have not made extensive use of legal services. The interest in expanding public information about legal services ought to prevail over considerations of tradition. Nevertheless, advertising by lawyers entails the risk of practices that are misleading or overreaching.

[2] This Rule permits public dissemination of information concerning a lawyer's name or firm name, address and telephone number; the kinds of services the lawyer will undertake; the basis on which the lawyer's fees are determined, including prices for specific services and payment and credit arrangements; a lawyer's foreign language ability; names of references and, with their consent, names of clients regularly represented; and other information that might invite the attention of those seeking legal assistance.

[3] Questions of effectiveness and taste in advertising are matters of speculation and subjective judgment. Some jurisdictions have had extensive prohibitions against television advertising, against advertising going beyond specified facts about a lawyer, or against “undignified” advertising. Television is now one of the most powerful media for getting information to the public, particularly persons of low and moderate income; prohibiting television advertising, therefore, would impede the flow of information about legal services to many sectors of the public. Limiting the information that may be advertised has a similar effect and assumes that the bar can accurately forecast the kind of information that the public would regard as relevant. Similarly, electronic media, such as the Internet, can be an important source of information about legal services, and lawful communication by electronic mail is permitted by this Rule. But see ER 7.3(a) for the prohibition against the solicitation of a prospective client through a real-time electronic exchange that is not initiated by the prospective client.

[4] Neither this Rule nor ER 7.3 prohibits communications authorized by law, such as notice to members of a class action litigation.

[5] Lawyers are not permitted to pay others for channeling professional work. Giving or receiving a de minimis gift that is not a quid pro quo for referring a particular client is permissible. Paragraph (b)(1), however, allows a lawyer to pay for advertising and communications permitted by this Rule, including the costs of print directory listings, on-line directory listings, newspaper ads, television and radio airtime, domain-name registrations, sponsorship fees, banner ads, and group advertising. A lawyer may compensate employees, agents and vendors who are engaged to provide marketing or client-development services, such as publicists, public-relations personnel, business-development staff and website designers. But see ER 5.4. See ER 5.3 for the duties of lawyers and law firms with respect to the conduct of nonlawyers who prepare marketing materials for them.

[6] A lawyer may pay the usual charges of a legal service plan or a not-for-profit or qualified lawyer referral service. A legal service plan is a prepaid or group legal service plan or a similar delivery system that assists prospective clients to secure legal representation. Published and electronic group advertising and directories are not lawyer referral services, but participation in such listings is governed by ERs 7.1 and 7.4. A lawyer referral service, on the other hand, is any organization in which a person or entity receives requests for lawyer services, and allocates such requests to a particular lawyer or lawyers or that holds itself out to the public as a lawyer referral service. Such referral services are understood by laypersons to be consumer-oriented organizations that provide unbiased referrals to lawyers with appropriate experience in the subject matter of the representation and afford other client protections, such as complaint procedures or malpractice insurance requirements. Consequently, this Rule only permits a lawyer to pay the usual charges of a not-for-profit or qualified lawyer referral service. A qualified lawyer referral service is one that is approved by an appropriate regulatory authority, such as the State Bar of Arizona, as affording adequate protections for prospective clients.

[7] The reasonable operating expenses of a legal service plan or lawyer referral service include payment of the actual expenses of operating, conducting, promoting and developing the service, including expenditures for capital purposes for the service, as determined on a reasonable accounting basis and with provision for reasonable reserves. Public service activities of a legal service plan or lawyer referral service include the following: (a) furnishing or providing funding for legal services to persons and entities financially unable to pay for all or part of such services; (b) developing and implementing programs to educate members of the public with respect to the law, the judicial system, the legal profession, or the need, manner of obtaining, and availability of legal services; and (c) creating and administering programs to improve the administration of justice or aid in relations between the Bar and the public.

[8] A lawyer who accepts assignments or referrals from a legal service plan or referrals from a lawyer referral service must act reasonably to assure that the activities of the plan or service are compatible with the lawyer's professional obligations. See ER 5.3. Legal service plans and lawyer referral services may communicate with prospective clients, but such communication must be in conformity with these Rules. Thus, advertising must not be false or misleading, as would be the case if the communications of a group advertising program or a group legal services plan would mislead prospective clients to think that it was a lawyer referral service sponsored by a state agency or bar association. Nor could the lawyer allow in-person, telephonic, or real-time contacts that would violate ER 7.3.

[9] Paragraph (f) requires communications under paragraphs (c) and (d) to be clear and conspicuous. In addition to the requirements of paragraph (f), a statement may not contradict or be inconsistent with any other information with which it is presented. If a statement modifies, explains, or clarifies other information with which it is presented, it must be presented in proximity to the information it modifies, in a manner that is readily noticeable, readable, and understandable, and it must not be obscured in any manner.