ADVERTISING

You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these documents.

12-01 A lawyer may enter into a marketing agreement with a nonlawyer professional to share the cost of advertising, but the lawyer must ensure that the content of the advertising materials complies with the Rules, and all payments to the nonlawyer must be for actual marketing costs and services rendered. The advertisements must not state or imply that the lawyer is in business or partnership with the nonlawyer. Should the MSA result in an informal referral arrangement with the nonlawyer, the lawyer shall comply with the Rules regarding reciprocal referral agreements and shall disclose potential conflicts of interest to the client

07-02 A lawyer may publicize the fact that he or she is listed in a publication such as The Best Lawyers in American, so long as the lawyer makes clear that he or she is not claiming to be one of the best lawyers in American, without violating Rule 7.1.

06-03 The email address "advancingjustice.com" and the media ad phrase "we will fight for your rights - advancing justice one case at a time" are communications governed by Rule 7.1. While there is a "potential" for such communications to mislead the public regarding results a law firm can achieve, without more, the Committee is not prepared to say such communications violate Rule 7.1.

01-07 Blind advertising by a lawyer or law firm through membership in a for-profit company engaged in advertising and making lawyer referrals not involving prepaid legal services, is not permitted. Blind advertising means advertising naming neither the lawyer nor the law firm.

00-04 A lawyer’s Web site is "Advertising" within the meaning of the Rules of Professional Conduct; therefore the attorney must comply with the applicable requirements of Rules 7.1 and 7.2 concerning accuracy and record-keeping. Unless the information on the Web site is directed to persons or groups whom the lawyer knows to be in need of legal services and with whom the lawyer does not have a family or prior professional relationship, the Web pages need not include the words "Advertising Material" otherwise required by Rule 7.3(c). It is advisable for the lawyer to use carefully worded disclosures and disclaimers to clarify the purposes and value of the information on the Web site and in the lawyer’s e-mail responses to questions generated by the Web site. However, the use of disclaimers will not necessarily preclude the formation of a lawyer-client relationship and its attendant ethical responsibilities, "in" particular circumstances.

00-01 A lawyer may join a not-for-profit lawyer referral service operated by a statewide organization which provides information about participating lawyers to its members in response to requests from its members for recommendation of lawyers having experience in the field of law which the organization services.

99-01 An attorney may list a non-lawyer nurse or paralegal who is an employee with appropriate credentials on firm letterhead so long as it shows non-lawyer status and is not false or misleading; however, the listing on the firm’s letterhead of a non-lawyer nurse, paralegal or another attorney who is an independent contractor to the firm and may hold other employment would appear to mislead the public as to the relationship between the firm and non-lawyer and is prohibited.

98-03 An attorney may not ethically approach pro se defendants in pending criminal matters in District Court and offer either a business card or advertising circular as an offer of representation in the matter pending before the court.

97-11 An attorney who has received a disciplinary suspension imposed by the Supreme Court is subject to the continuing jurisdiction of the Professional Conduct Board and remains bound by the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Disciplinary Rules. A suspended attorney may be employed as a law clerk, paralegal, investigator or in any capacity as a lay person, by a licensed lawyer or law firm on an hourly or salaried basis, but may not share in legal fees. Such employment should be restricted to activities that are performed for the employing attorney, as opposed to direct services to clients; must be supervised by the employing attorney; and must not be activities that constitute the practice of law; nor should the employment arrangement give the appearance to the public or to clients that the suspended attorney is permitted to practice law. The Committee on Professional Responsibility issues this Opinion after considerable discussion and debate, which reflected differences among the Committee members on the resolution of the questions presented. Moreover, neither the Disciplinary Rules, nor other rules, orders or decisions of the Vermont Supreme Court offer specific guidance on every issue. Therefore, we emphasize that this Opinion attempts to fill the gaps in the relevant authorities, offers useful guidelines to the members of the Bar and is purely advisory.

97-05 A lawyer does not violate DR 4-l0l by communicating with a client by e-mail, including the Internet, without encryption.

The use of an Internet web site to communicate with clients and prospective clients requires compliance with DR 2-l03 and DR 2-l04 relating to advertising and solicitation.

95-15 An attorney is permitted to share office space with a nonlawyer with whom the attorney maintains an ongoing business relationship in addition to the attorney's separate and ongoing practice of law provided the arrangements and relationship are such that client confidences and secrets are preserved, improper solicitation and fee splitting are avoided, and proper care is taken to maintain the exercise of independent professional judgment on behalf of the client, to avoid misleading the public and to avoid the appearance of impropriety in the arrangement.

95-09 An attorney who, either directly or indirectly, performs legal services on behalf of a bank/lender in the closing of a residential real estate transaction, does so at his/her peril when the borrower is not represented by counsel. The attorney must exercise caution to avoid any suggestion that he/she acts on behalf of the borrower. The need to exercise caution is particularly strong with respect to loan packages which provide significant savings to a borrower who chooses to proceed to closing without his/her own attorney.

94-13 A lawyer or law firm may advertise that they offer a discount for legal services, with the presentation of a coupon. Similarly, a lawyer or law firm may advertise a "free initial consultation."

94-12 An attorney may advertise concentration in more than one field of law, subject to the limitation of DR 2-101, which provides that a lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the quality of service or competence unless the claim can be factually substantiated.

93-10 An attorney may conduct a legal practice and real estate brokerage from the same office. An attorney may advertise his or her real estate business by stating he or she is also an attorney and has represented buyers and sellers for a number of years. An attorney may represent to the clients and customers of his or her real estate business that he or she is an attorney with experience in real estate transactions.

93-02 An attorney employed by an accounting firm may use a business card which identifies him as "Tax and Estate Planning Counselor" to that firm.

92-09 A lawyer who advertises that he or she specializes in a certain area of the law violates DR 2-105, which prohibits a lawyer from stating that he or she is a specialist, except in the areas of patent or admiralty law, or has met the requirements of designation as a specialist of the Vermont Supreme Court.

92-03 Designation of lawyers on letterhead as "Associates," when arrangement is more akin to office-sharing, may be misleading, and therefore, impermissible.

91-15 A law firm may not include a partner's name in its law firm title or on its letterhead when the partner takes a full-time position in State government, even though the partner may intend to return to the firm following the tenure in public office.

91-10 (A) An attorney may practice under a tradename that is not misleading and does not imply a connection with a government agency or public or charitable legal services organization. (B) An attorney may state that he or she "concentrates" or "restricts" his or her practice to a particular area of the law.

91-02 Lawyers may list themselves in yellow page directories by field of concentration

89-10 The use of credit cards for payment of legal services and expenses is permitted under the Code of Professional Responsibility provided specified guidelines are followed.

88-10 An attorney may indicate that he or she is licensed in other professions on letterheads, business cards and advertising

88-05 The general mailing to prospective clients of law office announcements indicating subject areas of practice is ethically permitted

83-07 When a partner leaves a firm to practice in another state, the firm name does not have to be changed to delete the name of the leaving partner as long as that partner maintains an "of counsel" relationship with the firm.

83-03 A Vermont lawyer may form an interstate law partnership with an out of state partnership, adopting a name that includes the name of partners admitted only in another state, as long as the firm letterhead, business cards and the like clearly disclose the limitations on the practice of each lawyer in the firm.

83-02 The Code prohibits listing the practice of another profession on letterhead, business cards or office sign. In determining responsibilities in this area, the lawyer should consult court decisions on the constitutionality of advertising restrictions.

82-04 A lawyer may use a display advertisement in a newspaper under DR 2-101(D) of the Code of Professional Responsibility as amended by the Vermont Supreme Court in July, 1977.

81-12 An attorney may not make a direct mailing to potential clients wherein the fees the attorney would charge are set out.

81-05 The Code prohibits advertising regarding lawyers except as specifically authorized. Those prohibitions do not apply to a law clerk. Therefore, such advertising may be done. (T. 12 V.S.A. App. LX, C2)

79-24 Firm listing attorneys as "of counsel" when not admitted to practice in Vermont

79-17 Law school publishing a directory of graduates listing areas of concentration

79-13 Law clerks, names appearing on law firm letterhead

77-20 A lawyer may not use a letterhead that indicates admission in a state other than the state in which an office is maintained.

77-13 A lawyer may use a "display" advertisement in a telephone directory under DR 2-101(D) as amended by the Vermont Supreme Court on July 15, 1977.

77-04 Letterheads, professional corporation

76-17 Use of fee brochure

76-09 Financing of fees with

 

 

Return to Advisory Ethics Opinions Listing
View Opinions in Chronological Order