Alabama Bar Guidelines and Rules
The Alabama Bar provides the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct, which you should review if you are wanting to update your law firm website. If you fail to keep the rules laid out, the Alabama Bar may need to take disciplinary action.
With the help of a law firm marketing team, you will be able to follow the Alabama Bar rules while still having a successful design of your website and marketing strategy. Law Firm Sites will assist you in approaching your advertising in an honest and creative way.
Below you will find more information on the rules and regulations for advertising your law firm in Alabama.
Alabama Bar Rules for Attorney Advertising – The Office of General Counsel regularly receives various requests for informal opinions concerning the requirements and limitations imposed upon attorney advertising by Rules 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. The Disciplinary Commission has determined that it would be beneficial to consolidate into one formal opinion those informal advertising opinions which appear to be of profession-wide interest. For more information on this, read through the Alabama State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct website.
State Ethics Rules Governing Lawyer Advertising – This website provides information on each state’s guidelines concerning advertising. They provide many resources for professionalism and ethics in lawyer advertising.
Key Rules To Be Aware of
The bar rules for attorney advertising protect the public.
Disclaimers help the public understand the limitations of the claims made on the attorney’s website. For example, the disclaimer might explain that:
- No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.
- The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.
- The attorney’s website is not intended to be an advertisement or solicitation.
Other types of disclaimers should be used when discussing case results or testimonials.
Rule 7.1 Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services
A lawyer shall not make or cause to be made a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services.
A communication is false or misleading if it:
(a) contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading;
(b) is likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve, or states or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;
(c) compares the quality of the lawyer’s services with the quality of other lawyers’ services, except as provided in Rule 7.4; or
(d) communicated the certification of the lawyer by a certifying organization, except as provided in Rule 7.4.
Rule 7.2 Advertising
A lawyer who advertises concerning legal services shall comply with the following:
(a) Subject to the requirements of Rule 7.1, a lawyer may advertise services through public media, such as a telephone directory, legal directory, newspaper or other periodical, outdoor displays, radio, television, or written communication not involving solicitation as defined in Rule 7.3.
(b) A true copy or recording of any such advertisement shall be delivered or mailed to the office of the general counsel of the Alabama State Bar at its then current headquarters within three (3) days after the date on which any such advertisement is first disseminated; the contemplated duration thereof and the identity of the publisher or broadcaster of such advertisement, either within the advertisement or by separate communication accompanying said advertisement, shall be stated. Also, a copy or recording of any such advertisement shall be kept by the lawyer responsible for its content, as provided hereinafter by Rule 7.2(d), for six (6) years after its last dissemination.
(c) A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services, except that a lawyer may pay the reasonable cost of any advertisement or written communication permitted by this rule and may pay the usual charges of a not-for-profit lawyer referral service.
(d) Any communication made pursuant to this rule shall include the name of at least one lawyer responsible for its content.
(e) No communication concerning a lawyer’s services shall be published or broadcast, unless it contains the following language, which shall be clearly legible or audible, as the case may be: “No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.”
(f) If fees are stated in the advertisement, the lawyer or law firm advertising must perform the advertised services at the advertised fee, and the failure of the lawyer and/or law firm advertising to perform an advertised service at the advertised fee shall be prima facie evidence of misleading advertising and deceptive practices. The lawyer or law firm advertising shall be bound to perform the advertised services for the advertised fee and expenses for a period of not less than sixty (60) days following the date of the last publication or broadcast.
Rule 7.4 Communication of Fields of Practice in Alabama
A lawyer in Alabama may communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law. A lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is a specialist except as follows:
(a) a lawyer admitted to engage in patent practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office may use the designation “Patent Attorney” or a substantially similar designation;
(b) a lawyer engaged in admiralty practice in Alabama may use the designation “Admiralty,” “Proctor in Admiralty,” or a substantially similar designation; or
(c) a lawyer may communicate the fact that the Alabama lawyer has been certified as a board certified specialist in a field of law by a named organization or authority, but only if such certification is granted by an organization previously approved by the Alabama State Bar Board of Legal Certification to grant such certifications.
Rule 7.5 Firm Names and Letterheads
(a) A lawyer shall not use a firm name, letterhead, or other professional designation that violates Rule 7.1. A trade name may be used by a lawyer in private practice if it does not imply a connection with a government agency or with a public or charitable organization and is not otherwise in violation of Rule 7.1 or Rule 7.4.
(b) A law firm with offices in another jurisdiction may use in Alabama the name it uses in the other jurisdiction, provided the use of that name would comply with these rules. A firm with any lawyers not licensed to practice in Alabama must, if such lawyer’s name appears on the firm’s letterhead, state that the lawyer is not licensed to practice in Alabama.
(c) A lawyer or law firm may indicate on any letterhead or other communication permitted by these rules other jurisdictions in which the lawyer or the members or associates of the law firm are admitted to practice.
(d) The name of a lawyer holding a public office shall not be used in the name of a law firm, or in communications on its behalf, during any substantial period in which the lawyer is not practicing with the firm.