Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct
Your Louisiana firm will need to follow the State Bar of Louisiana’s advertising rules if you wish to have an online marketing presence. If you’re not careful, you may be subject to disciplinary actions.
Before you make any marketing plan, be sure to read through the rules listed by the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct.
These guidelines can be complicated, which is why you’ll want to contact a trusted marketing team that understands the Bar rules to ensure your website and advertisements follow the guidelines listed.
Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct – The complete list to the rules for professional conduct in Louisiana.
Handbook for Internet Advertising in Louisiana – This is an extensive resource regarding internet advertising in Louisiana
Key Rules to be Aware of
Rule 7.2. Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services (signed, effective 6/2/2016)
The following shall apply to any communication conveying information about a lawyer, a lawyer’s services or a law firm’s services:
(a) Required Content of Advertisements and Unsolicited Written Communications.
(1) Name of Lawyer. All advertisements and unsolicited written communications pursuant to these Rules shall include the name of at least one lawyer responsible for their content.
(2) Location of Practice. All advertisements and unsolicited written communications provided for under these Rules shall disclose, by city or town, one or more bona fide office location(s) of the lawyer or lawyers who will actually perform the services advertised. If the office location is outside a city or town, the parish where the office is located must be disclosed. For the purposes of this Rule, a bona fide office is defined as a physical location maintained by the lawyer or law firm where the lawyer or law firm reasonably expects to furnish legal services in a substantial way on a regular and continuing basis, and which physical location shall have at least one lawyer who is regularly and routinely present in that physical location. In the absence of a bona fide office, the lawyer shall disclose the city or town of the primary registration statement address as it appears on the lawyer’s annual registration statement. If an advertisement or unsolicited written communication lists a telephone number in connection with a specified geographic area other than an area containing a bona fide office or the lawyer’s primary registration statement address, appropriate qualifying language must appear in the advertisement.
(3) The following items may be used without including the content required by subdivisions (a)(1) and (a)(2) of this Rule 7.2:
(A) Sponsorships. A brief announcement in any public media that identifies a lawyer or law firm as a contributor to a specified charity or as a sponsor of a public service announcement or a specified charitable, community, or public interest program, activity, or event, provided that the announcement contains no information about the lawyer or the law firm other than permissible content of advertisements listed in Rule 7.2(b) and the fact of the sponsorship or contribution, in keeping with Rule 7.8(b);
(B) Gift/Promotional Items. Items, such as coffee mugs, pens, pencils, apparel, and the like, that identify a lawyer or law firm and are used/disseminated by a lawyer or law firm not in violation of these Rules, including but not limited to Rule 7.2(c)(13) and Rule 7.4; and
(C) Office Sign(s) for Bona Fide Office Location(s). A sign, placard, lettering, mural, engraving, carving or other alphanumeric display conveying information about a lawyer, a lawyer’s services or a law firm’s services that is permanently affixed, hanging, erected or otherwise attached to the physical structure of the building containing a bona fide office location for a lawyer or law firm, or to the property on which that bona fide office location sits.
(b) Permissible Content of Advertisements and Unsolicited Written Communications. If the content of an advertisement in any public media or unsolicited written communication is limited to the following information, the advertisement or unsolicited written communication is exempt from the filing and review requirement and, if true, shall be presumed not to be misleading or deceptive.
(1) Lawyers and Law Firms. A lawyer or law firm may include the following information in advertisements and unsolicited written communications:
(A) subject to the requirements of this Rule and Rule 7.10, the name of the lawyer or law firm, a listing of lawyers associated with the firm, office locations and parking arrangements, disability accommodations, telephone numbers, Web site addresses, and electronic mail addresses, office and telephone service hours, and a designation such as “attorney”, “lawyer” or “law firm”;
(B) date of admission to the Louisiana State Bar Association and any other bars, current membership or positions held in the Louisiana State Bar Association, its sections or committees, former membership or positions held in the Louisiana State Bar Association, its sections or committees, together with dates of membership, former positions of employment held in the legal profession, together with dates the positions were held, years of experience practicing law, number of lawyers in the advertising law firm, and a listing of federal courts and jurisdictions other than Louisiana where the lawyer is licensed to practice;
(C) technical and professional licenses granted by the State or other recognized licensing authorities and educational degrees received, including dates and institutions;
(D) military service, including branch and dates of service;
(E) foreign language ability;
(F) fields of law in which the lawyer practices, including official certification logos, subject to the requirements of subdivision (c)(5) of this Rule;
(G) prepaid or group legal service plans in which the lawyer participates;
(H) fee for initial consultation and fee schedule, subject to the requirements of subdivisions (c)(6) and (c)(7) of this Rule;
(I) common salutatory language such as “best wishes,” “good luck,” “happy holidays,” or “pleased to announce”;
(J) punctuation marks and common typographical marks; and
(K) a photograph or image of the lawyer or lawyers who are members of or employed by the firm against a plain background.
(2) Public Service Announcements. A lawyer or law firm may be listed as a sponsor of a public service announcement or charitable, civic, or community program or event as long as the information about the lawyer or law firm is limited to the permissible content set forth in subdivision (b)(1) of this Rule.
(c) Prohibitions and General Rules Governing Content of Advertisements and Unsolicited Written Communications.
(1) Statements About Legal Services. A lawyer shall not make or permit to be made a false, misleading or deceptive communication about the lawyer, the lawyer’s services or the law firm’s services. A communication violates this Rule if it:
(A) contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law;
(B) is false, misleading or deceptive;
(C) fails to disclose material information necessary to prevent the information supplied from being false, misleading or deceptive;
(D) contains a reference or testimonial to past successes or results obtained, except as allowed in the Rule regulating information about a lawyer’s services provided upon request; [Suspended. See note above.]
(E) promises results;
(F) states or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;
(G) compares the lawyer’s services with other lawyers’ services, unless the comparison can be factually substantiated;
(H) contains a paid testimonial or endorsement, unless the fact of payment is disclosed;
(I) includes (i) a portrayal of a client by a non-client without disclaimer of such, as required by Rule 7.2(c)(10); (ii) the depiction of any events or scenes, other than still pictures, photographs or other static images, that are not actual or authentic without disclaimer of such, as required by Rule 7.2(c)(10); or (iii) a still picture, photograph or other static image that, due to alteration or the context of its use, is false, misleading or deceptive;
(J) the portrayal of a lawyer by a non-lawyer, the portrayal of a law firm as a fictionalized entity, the use of a fictitious name to refer to lawyers not associated together in a law firm, or otherwise implies that lawyers are associated in a law firm if that is not the case;
(K) resembles a legal pleading, notice, contract or other legal document;
(L) utilizes a nickname, moniker, motto or trade name that states or implies an ability to obtain results in a matter; or
(M) fails to comply with Rule 1.8(e)(4)(iii).
(2) Prohibited Visual and Verbal Portrayals and Illustrations. A lawyer shall not include in any advertisement or unsolicited written communication any visual or verbal descriptions, depictions, illustrations (including photographs) or portrayals of persons, things, or events that are false, misleading or deceptive.
(3) Advertising Areas of Practice. A lawyer or law firm shall not state or imply in advertisements or unsolicited written communications that the lawyer or law firm currently practices in an area of practice when that is not the case.
(4) Stating or Implying Louisiana State Bar Association Approval. A lawyer or law firm shall not make any statement that directly or impliedly indicates that the communication has received any kind of approval from The Louisiana State Bar Association.
(5) Communication of Fields of Practice. A lawyer may communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law. A lawyer may state that the lawyer is a “specialist,” practices a “specialty,” or “specializes in” particular fields, but such communications are subject to the “false and misleading” standard applied in Rule 7.2(c)(1) to communications concerning a lawyer’s services. A lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is “certified,” or “board certified” except as follows:
(A) Lawyers Certified by the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization. A lawyer who complies with the Plan of Legal Specialization, as determined by the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization, may inform the public and other lawyers of the lawyer’s certified area(s) of legal practice. Such communications should identify the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization as the certifying organization and may state that the lawyer is “certified,” or “board certified in (area of certification).”
(B) Lawyers Certified by Organizations Other Than the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization or Another State Bar. A lawyer certified by an organization other than the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization or another state bar may inform the public and other lawyers of the lawyer’s certified area(s) of legal practice by stating that the lawyer is “certified,” or “board certified in (area of certification)” if:
(i) the lawyer complies with Section 6.2 of the Plan of Legal Specialization for the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization; and,
(ii) the lawyer includes the full name of the organization in all communications pertaining to such certification. A lawyer who has been certified by an organization that is accredited by the American Bar Association is not subject to Section 6.2 of the Plan of Legal Specialization.
(C) Certification by Other State Bars. A lawyer certified by another state bar may inform the public and other lawyers of the lawyer’s certified area(s) of legal practice and may state in communications to the public that the lawyer is “certified,” or “board certified in (area of certification)” if:
(i) the state bar program grants certification on the basis of standards reasonably comparable to the standards of the Plan of Legal Specialization, as determined by the Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization; and,
(ii) the lawyer includes the name of the state bar in all communications pertaining to such certification.
(6) Disclosure of Liability For Expenses Other Than Fees. Every advertisement and unsolicited written communication that contains information about the lawyer’s fee, including those that indicate no fee will be charged in the absence of a recovery, shall disclose whether the client will be liable for any costs and/or expenses in addition to the fee.
(7) Period for Which Advertised Fee Must be Honored. A lawyer who advertises a specific fee or range of fees for a particular service shall honor the advertised fee or range of fees for at least ninety days from the date last advertised unless the advertisement specifies a shorter period; provided that, 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.
(8) Firm Name. A lawyer shall not advertise services under a name that violates the provisions of Rule 7.10.
(9) Language of Required Statements. Any words or statements required by these Rules to appear in an advertisement or unsolicited written communication must appear in the same language in which the advertisement or unsolicited written communication appears. If more than one language is used in an advertisement or unsolicited written communication, any words or statements required by these Rules must appear in each language used in the advertisement or unsolicited written communication.
(10) Appearance of Required Statements, Disclosures and Disclaimers. Any words or statements required by these Rules to appear in an advertisement or unsolicited written communication must be clearly legible if written or intelligible if spoken aloud. All disclosures and disclaimers required by these Rules shall be clear, conspicuous and clearly associated with the item requiring disclosure or disclaimer. Written disclosures and disclaimers shall be clearly legible and, if televised or displayed electronically, shall be displayed for a sufficient time to enable the viewer to easily see and read the disclosure or disclaimer. Spoken disclosures and disclaimers shall be plainly audible and clearly intelligible.
(11) Payment by Non-Advertising Lawyer. No lawyer shall, directly or indirectly, pay all or a part of the cost of an advertisement by a lawyer not in the same firm.
(12) Referrals to Another Lawyer. If the case or matter will be, or is likely to be, referred to another lawyer or law firm, the communication shall include a statement so advising the prospective client.
(13) Payment for Recommendations; Lawyer Referral Service Fees. 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 advertising or written or recorded communication permitted by these Rules, and may pay the usual charges of a lawyer referral service or other legal service organization only as follows:
(A) A lawyer may pay the usual, reasonable and customary charges of a lawyer referral service operated by the Louisiana State Bar Association, any local bar association, or any other not-for-profit organization, provided the lawyer referral service:
(i) refers all persons who request legal services to a participating lawyer;
(ii) prohibits lawyers from increasing their fee to a client to compensate for the referral service charges; and
(iii) fairly and equitably distributes referral cases among the participating lawyers, within their area of practice, by random allotment or by rotation.
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