Legal advertising

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Legal advertising is advertising by lawyers (attorneys at law) and law firms. Legal marketing is a broader term referring to advertising and other practices, such as client relations, cross-selling,[1] public relations and maintaining contact with Alumni.

United States[edit]

Certain marketing practices are considered illegal, and many others may be considered violations of legal ethics. Shock advertising, for example, would be considered unethical; directly soliciting clients (known as barratry, or "ambulance chasing") is illegal.

The first major case law decision on legal advertising is the Supreme Court ruling in Bates v. Arizona State Bar 433 U.S. 350 (1977).

The New York and Florida court systems proposed several restrictions on advertising in 2006 and 2007.[2] The N.Y. proposals, in particular, generated much controversy.[3] In 2005, New York State Bar Association President Vincent Buzard appointed a Task Force on Lawyer Advertising, chaired by Bernice K. Leber, to make proposals for consideration by NYSBA and the New York courts.[4]

The new rules for New York were effective on February 1, 2007.[5] For the first time, the New York Legal system defined legal advertising, as:
"any public or private communication made on or behalf of a lawyer or law firm about that lawyer or law firm's services, the primary purpose of which is for the retention of the lawyer or law firm."[6] The new rule specifically exempts communications to existing clients or other lawyers.[7] Publicity is, for the first time, also included as a synonym of advertising.[8] The newly revised rules now allow advertising about a lawyer's publications and "bona fide professional ratings".[9] There are certain special rules for email advertising, prohibiting spam.[10]

The 2007 rules stated that advertising must not include a number of prohibited marketing devices:

  1. Certain endorsements or testimonials from a former client
  2. Portrayal of judges
  3. Paid, undisclosed payment of testimonials
  4. Portrayal of a judge, or fictitious lawyer or law firm
  5. Use of actors or fictionalized persons
  6. Irrelevant characteristics of the lawyers
  7. Ads that resemble legal documents
  8. Certain limits on soliciting new clients for 30 days after a tort
  9. Certain other limits on communications with non-clients
  10. Use of a nickname or moniker.[11]

The new New York rules were successfully challenged by the First Amendment lawyer Greg Beck of Washington, DC, representing Syracuse law firm Alexander and Catalano, in Alexander v. Cahill, and Judge Frederick J. Scullin of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York struck down five of the rules as unconstitutional infringement of the First Amendment.[12] The endorsement, portrayals, "Irrelevant characteristics", and nicknames provisions were stricken; however, the domain name limitations, 30-day solicitation, and communications rules were upheld.[13] State Bar President Kathryn Madigan promised to work with the court system to develop new rules that will survive constitutional strict scrutiny.[14]

The new Florida rules, and similar rules in Louisiana, have also been successfully challenged by attorney Greg Beck of Washington, DC.[15]


In India, An Advocate shall not solicit work or advertise, except through a medium maintained by the Bar Council of India, either directly or indirectly, whether by circulars, advertisements, touts, personal communications, interviews not warranted by personal relations, furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments or producing his/her photographs to be published in connection with cases in which he/she has been engaged or concerned. His/her sign-board or name-plate should be of a reasonable size. The sign-board or name-plate or stationery should not indicate that he/she is or has been a President or Member of a Bar Council or of any Association or that he/she has been associated with any person or organization or with any particular cause or matter or that he/she specializes in any particular type of work or that he/she has been a Judge or an Advocate General.Soliciting work or advertise” as used in this clause of the Code would not mean and include setting up of a web-site by an advocate or a law firm giving only basic information about the names and number of lawyers in a law firm, the contact details and areas of practice. This would apply similarly to lawyers’ brochures and law directories.[16]

Under the amended rule, advocates can mention in their chosen websites, their names, telephone numbers, e-mail ID, professional qualification and areas of specialization.[17]

In other countries[edit]

In England and Wales, legal marketing can be traced back to 1986 when the Law Society of England and Wales first permitted lawyers to advertise. The Financial Services Authority now licences helplines and claims management agencies - except trade unions - which typically advertise and refer claims to lawyers.

From the 1990s, other jurisdictions in continental Europe progressively opened way for advertising. Advocates in Spain, France. and Germany are among those able to freely use instruments of communication.

In Italy, the Bersani Decree of July 2, converted into law in January 2007 gives lawyers the right to advertise.

In Israel, legal marketing managers in big law firms were active since 2006. Their activity expanded due to the Late-2000s recession which affected law firms, and due to the large number of lawyers per capita in Israel.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Marketing Monday: are law firms getting smarter using CRM? + infographic". Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  2. ^ article from June 15, 2006 New York Law Journal (N.Y.L.J.) article on NY proposals by John Caher:[1]
  3. ^ See, e.g., this blog for more information
  4. ^ Andrew Rush, U.S. District Court: Some advertising rules unconstitutional, State Bar News, September/October 2007, p. 4.
  5. ^ For the full rules, see: [2].
  6. ^ 11 New York Code of Rules and Regulations (N.Y.C.R.R.) part 1200, section 1200.1 (k), found at [3] (requires Acrobat-TM reader).
  7. ^ Id.
  8. ^ 11 N.Y.C.R.R. part 1200, section 1200.6, also known as the Code of Professional Responsibility, Disciplinary Rule (DR) 2-101, found at: [4]
  9. ^ Id., at DR 2-101 (b) (1).
  10. ^ Id., DR 2-101 (b).
  11. ^ DR 2-101 (c), found at [5].
  12. ^ Andrew Rush, U.S. District Court: Some advertising rules unconstitutional, State Bar News, September/October 2007, p. 4.
  13. ^ Andrew Rush, U.S. District Court: Some advertising rules unconstitutional, State Bar News, September/October 2007, p. 4.
  14. ^ NYSBA Press Release
  15. ^ Revere Legal article on August 17, 2011 written by Farukh P. Shroff
  16. ^ "Rules on Professional Standards < Bar Council of India". Bar Council of India. Bar Council of India. Retrieved 2015-07-09. 
  17. ^ "16 Reasons why Lawyers in India should be allowed to Advertise". Retrieved 2015-08-12.