The lawyer advertising rules regarding digital marketing in Maryland are set forth by the Maryland Lawyer’s Rules of Professional Conduct. While it is important that an attorney’s website be effective, it is just as important that it be compliant with the bar rules.
Rule 7.1 of the Maryland Lawyer’s Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits an attorney’s website from containing any statements or claims about the attorney or their services that are false or misleading. Statements can be false or misleading if:
- The communication contains any material misrepresentation of law or fact;
- The communication omits any fact necessary to not make the statement materially misleading when taken as a whole;
- The communication is likely to create an unjustified expectation about the results the attorney can achieve; or
- The communication compares the services of the attorney with that of another, unless the statement can be verified.
Rule 7.2 governs advertising. An attorney in Maryland is permitted to “advertise services through public media, such as a telephone directory, legal directory, newspaper or other periodical, outdoor, radio or television advertising, or through communications not involving in person contact.” However, they are “required to keep a copy of an advertisement or communication for at least three years after it was last used, along with a record of when and where it was used.”
There are no specific bar rules requiring a Maryland attorney to display a disclaimer on their website; however, in order to avoid creating unjustified expectations to the viewer of the website or any potential clients it is wise for all attorneys to display in equal prominence and with the same legibility as other content on the website an appropriate disclaimer or disclosure.
Rule 7.4 of the Maryland Lawyer’s Rules of Professional Conduct permits an attorney to indicate on their website whether they do or do not practice in a particular field of law. An attorney may not state they are a specialist, unless they are admitted to engage in patent practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In this instance, they can state they are a “Patent Attorney.”