All attorney advertising including electronic communication, websites and internet content are regulated by the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct.
According to Rule 7.2 which governs advertising, all advertisements disseminated by a lawyer or a law firm must be retained for a period of two years after the advertisement was last used. The lawyer or law firm must also save information about when and where the ad was used.
Rule 7.1 states that an attorney may not make a statement that is false or misleading. A communication can be considered false or misleading if it contains a material representation of law or fact. Even when true, such a statement could be considered false or misleading if it omits a fact that is necessary to make a statement (when taken as a whole) not materially misleading.
Rule 7.1 also requires an appropriate disclaimer be included when making any statement on the attorney’s website if the statement could potentially create an unjustified expectation to the viewer of the website or otherwise mislead the viewer. Any disclaimers that appear on an attorney’s website should appear the same and with equal prominence as other content.
Rule 7.4 prohibits an attorney from claiming to be a specialist, specializes in, is certified or is recognized as a specialist in a particular field of law, unless:
- The attorney may use the term “Patent Attorney” or something substantially similar if the attorney is admitted to engage in a patent practice before the United State Patent and Trademark Office; or
- The attorney has been certified as a specialist in a field of law by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization;
- The attorney has been certified as a specialist by an organization recognized or accredited by the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization.
If an attorney does not meet any of these qualifications they may state whether they do or do not practice in certain areas of the law.