General Guidelines: Lawyer Advertising Rules
The Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct governs all advertisements and communications, including digital communications, made by attorneys and law firms throughout Massachusetts. According to the comments section of Rule 7.2, websites and any other content published on the internet by lawyers or law firms are generally considered to be a type advertisements.
Under Rule 7.2, an attorney’s website is required to display the name of the lawyer, law firm or group of lawyers who is responsible for the content on the website.
The Rules also state an attorney must keep a copy or recording of any advertisement for two years after it was last used, in addition to a statement of when and where it was used.
Specialization and Fields of Practice
According to Rule 7.4, a lawyer in Massachusetts is prohibited from claiming they are a specialist in any particular legal field, areas of law or in any other legal services, unless the statement is truthful. For example, an attorney may not:
- Advertise in directory listings identified by a particular service, field or area of law, if the assertion is false or misleading;
- Claim they concentrate in, specialize in, are certified in, have expertise in or are limited practice in a certain field or area of law, if the statement is false or misleading; or
- Claim any other association in a particular area of law or practice area, if the claim is false or misleading.
If an attorney does claim to be certified in a particular field of law or practice area, they must identify the certifying governmental body or organization and include the statement that the organization is, “a private organization, whose standards for certification are not regulated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
False or Misleading Language
Attorneys are prohibited from making any false or misleading statements about the lawyer or their services according to Rule 7.1 of the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct. A communication is considered to be misleading or false if:
- The statement contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or
- The statement omits a fact necessary to make a statement materially misleading when taken as a whole.
Any statement that compares the attorney’s services to another attorney’s services may considered be false or misleading, which is not considered truthful. Also, any statement that may create an unjustified expectation of the results the attorney is able to achieve may also be considered false or misleading.