State Restrictions on Advertising

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Thanks to the myriad types of electronic communications and social media channels now at our disposal, the venues in which lawyers can theoretically advertise has exploded. Sometimes state rules of professional conduct have affirmatively kept pace with those changes, sometimes they rely on the language of the Model Rules, and sometimes they lag behind. On top of that, there are any number of variations on what types of disclaimers must be included and when.

Here’s where all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) are on the issue of advertising right now.

StateTypes of advertising that require disclaimersRequired disclaimer language
Alabama"Public media, such as a telephone directory, legal directory, newspaper or other periodical, outdoor displays, radio, television.""No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers."
Arizona"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated
Arkansas"Public media, such as a telephone directory, legal directory, newspaper or other periodical, outdoor advertising, radio or television, or through written or electronic communication."None indicated
Alaska"Written, recorded, or electronic communication, including public media.""Advertisements may include photographs, voices or images of the lawyers who are members of the firm who will actually perform the services. If advertisements utilize actors or other individuals, those persons shall be clearly and conspicuously identified by name and relationship to the advertising lawyer or law firm and shall not mislead or create an unreasonable expectation about the results the lawyer may be able to obtain. Clients or former clients shall not be used in any manner whatsoever in advertisements. Dramatization in any advertisement is prohibited."
CaliforniaCalifornia does not have a list of permissible advertising media. Instead, it defines "communication" as "any message or offer made by or on behalf of a member concerning the availability for professional employment of a member or a law firm directed to any former, present, or prospective client, including but not limited to the following [...]
(2) Any stationery, letterhead, business card, sign, brochure, or other comparable written material describing such member, law firm, or lawyers; or
(3) Any advertisement (regardless of medium) of such member or law firm directed to the general public or any substantial portion thereof; or (4) Any unsolicited correspondence from a member."
Any communication that contains testimonials about or endorsements of a lawyer must contain a disclaimer such as “this testimonial or endorsement does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.” Any communication that is a dramatization must contain a disclaimer such as "this is a dramatization."
Colorado"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media.""No lawyer shall, directly or indirectly, pay all or a part of the cost of communications concerning a lawyer's services by a lawyer not in the same firm unless the communication discloses the name and address of the non-advertising lawyer, the relationship between the advertising lawyer and the non-advertising lawyer, and whether the advertising lawyer may refer any case received through the advertisement to the non-advertising lawyer."

Any communication that states that the client does not have to pay a fee if there is no recovery must also disclose client may be liable for costs.
Connecticut"Written, recorded or electronic communication,
including public media."
"Every advertisement and written communication that contains information about the lawyer’s fee, including those indicating that the charging of a fee is contingent on outcome, or that no fee will be charged in the absence of a recovery, or that the fee will be a percentage of the recovery, shall disclose whether and to what extent the client will be responsible for any court costs and expenses of litigation. The disclosure concerning court costs and expenses of litigation shall be in the same print size and type as the information regarding the lawyer’s fee and, if broadcast, shall appear for the same duration as the information regarding the lawyer’s fee. If the information regarding the fee is spoken, the disclosure concerning court costs and expenses of litigation shall also be spoken."

"No lawyers shall directly or indirectly pay all or part of the cost of an advertisement by a lawyer not in the same firm unless the advertisement discloses the name and address of the nonadvertising lawyer, and whether the advertising lawyer may refer any case received through the advertisement to the nonadvertising lawyer."
Delaware"Written, recorded or electronic communication,
including public media."
None indicated
Florida"Any print or electronic forum, including but not limited to newspapers, magazines, brochures, flyers, television, radio, direct mail, electronic mail, and Internet, including banners, pop-ups, websites, social networking, and video sharing media."Re-creation or staging of an event must contain "Dramatization. Not an Actual Event" prominently displayed.
Georgia"Public media, such as a telephone directory, legal directory, newspaper or other periodical; outdoor advertising; radio or television; written, electronic or recorded communication."If an ad contains any information about contingent fees, it must state:

"Contingent attorneys' fees refers only to those fees charged by attorneys for their legal services. Such fees are not permitted in all types of cases. Court costs and other additional expenses of legal action usually must be paid by the client."

If an ad contains the language 'no fee unless you win or collect' or any similar phrase it must state:

"No fee unless you win or collect" [or insert the similar language used in the communication] refers only to fees charged by the attorney. Court costs and other additional expenses of legal action usually must be paid by the client. Contingent fees are not permitted in all types of cases."
Hawaii"Written, recorded, or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated
Idaho"Written, recorded, or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated
Illinois"Written, recorded, or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated
Indiana"Any manner of public communication partly or entirely intended or expected to promote the purchase or use of the professional services of a lawyer, law firm, or any employee of either involving the practice of law or law-related services."None indicated
Iowa"Written, recorded, or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated
Kansas"Written, recorded, or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated
KentuckyKentucky does not specify what types of advertising are permissible. Instead, the rules state that a lawyer may "advertise legal services through communications in compliance with these Rules."All advertisements must include the words “THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT.” In recorded telephone, electronic, video, or digital communications, the speaker must state “THE FOLLOWING IS AN ADVERTISEMENT” at the beginning and, at the end, must also state “THIS MESSAGE HAS BEEN AN
ADVERTISEMENT”.

All television communication, video recording or digital recording must prominently display the words “THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT” on screen for as long as the lawyer's or firm's name appears on the screen. If it is longer than 60 seconds, the words “THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT” must be
displayed the entire time.

The words “THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT” must be prominently displayed on every page of any advertisement in writing, and displayed without scrolling on the first screen of every page of a website.

If an advertisement mentions a fee for legal services, including reference to a contingent fee, disclosure shall be made as to the responsibility for court costs and case expenses. If the client is required to pay court costs and/or case expenses in addition to the attorney’s fee, the advertisement shall state in all capital letters, “COURT COSTS AND CASE EXPENSES WILL BE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CLIENT.”
Louisiana "A lawyer may advertise services through public media, including but not limited to: print media, such as a telephone directory, legal directory, newspaper or other periodical; outdoor advertising, such as billboards and other signs; radio, television, and computer-accessed communications; recorded messages the public may access by dialing a telephone number; and written communication."Portrayals of a client by a non-client and the depiction of any event or scene (other than static images) that are not authentic require a disclaimer. The rules, however, do not specify what this disclaimer should be.
Maine"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated
Maryland"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.""An advertisement or communication indicating that no fee will be charged in the absence of a recovery shall also disclose whether the client will be liable for any expenses."
Massachusetts"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public
media."
None indicated
MichiganMichigan rules only state that a lawyer may advertise.None indicated
Minnesota"Written, recorded, or electronic communications, including public
media."
None indicated
MississippiAdvertising "includes, but is not limited to, communication by means of telephone, television, radio, motion picture, computer-accessed communication, newspaper, sign, directory, listing or through written communication.""No lawyer shall directly or indirectly pay all or a part of the cost of an advertisement by a lawyer not in the same firm unless the advertisement discloses the name and address of the nonadvertising lawyer, the relationship between the advertising lawyer and the nonadvertising lawyer, and whether the advertising lawyer may refer any case received through the advertisement to the nonadvertising lawyer."
Missouri"Public media, such as a telephone directory, legal directory, newspaper or other periodical, outdoor advertising, radio, or television, or through direct mail advertising." Advertisements must disclose when:

the lawyer routinely refers matters to other lawyers, there is a paid testimonial or endorsement, a simulated portrayal, the office address provided is staffed only part-time or by appointment only.

If the ad states that legal services are available on a contingent basis or state that there is no fee if there is no recovery, it must state conspicuously that the client may be responsible for costs or expenses.
Montana"Written, recorded, or electronic communications, including public media."Advertisements must disclose when:

the lawyer routinely refers matters to other lawyers, there is a paid testimonial or endorsement, a simulated portrayal, the office address provided is staffed only part-time or by appointment only.

If the ad states that legal services are available on a contingent basis or state that there is no fee if there is no recovery, it must state conspicuously that the client may be responsible for costs or expenses.
Nebraska"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated
Nevada"Public media, such as a telephone directory, legal directory, newspaper or other periodical, billboards and other signs, radio, television and recorded messages the public may access by dialing a telephone number, or through written or electronic communication."Every advertisement indicating that charging of a fee is contingent on outcome or that fee will be a percentage of the recovery shall contain this disclaimer only if the client may be liable for the opposing parties’ fees and costs: “You may have to pay the opposing parties’ attorney fees and costs in the event of a loss.”

If the advertisement contains any reference to past successes or results, the communicating lawyer or member of the law firm must have served as lead counsel in the matter or was primarily responsible for the settlement or verdict. The advertisement shall also contain a disclaimer that past results do not guarantee, warrant, or predict future cases. If past results include a monetary sum, the amount must have been actually received by the client.
New Hampshire"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated
New Jersey"Public media, such as a telephone directory, legal directory, newspaper or other periodical, radio or television, internet or other electronic media, or through mailed written communication. All advertisements shall be predominantly informational. No drawings, animations, dramatizations, music, or lyrics shall be used in connection with televised advertising. No advertisement shall rely in any way on techniques to obtain attention that depend upon absurdity and that demonstrate a clear and intentional lack of relevance to the selection of counsel; included in this category are all advertisements that contain any extreme portrayal of counsel exhibiting characteristics clearly unrelated to legal competence."An attorney or law firm may include an accurate quotation or excerpt from a court opinion about the attorney's abilities or legal services, but only with the following disclaimer prominently displayed: "This comment, made by a judge in a particular case, is not an endorsement of my legal skill or ability."
New Mexico"Written, recorded, or electronic communications, including public media."None indicated
New YorkNew York does not specify which types of advertisements are permissible or impermissible.Advertisements other than those in a radio, television or billboard advertisement, in a directory, newspaper, magazine or other periodical (and any related websites), must be labeled “Attorney Advertising” on the first page, or on the home page in the case of a web site.
North Carolina"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."Any dramatization depicting a fictional situation must contain a "conspicuous written or oral statement, at the beginning and the end of the communication, explaining that the communication contains a dramatization and does not depict actual events or real persons."
North Dakota"Media, including published and on-line directories; newspapers, newsletters and other periodicals; outdoor advertising; electronic advertising, including radio, television, video and the Internet; and through text-based communications including written correspondence and e-mail."None indicated
Ohio"Written, recorded, or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated.
Oklahoma"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated.
Oregon"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated.
Pennsylvania"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."If the advertisement contains a paid endorsement it must disclose the endorser is being paid or otherwise compensated. If the advertisement contains the portrayal of a client by a nonclient, reenactment of any event, or pictures that are not actual or authentic, it must state that the depiction is a dramatization. Advertisements that state no fee shall be charged without recovery must disclose that the client is still liable for certain expenses besides the fee if that is the case.

Rhode Island"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."If the advertisement states that no fee will be charged if no recovery, it must also "state conspicuously if the client will be responsible for costs or expenses regardless of outcome."

If a law firm advertises that the practice includes particular fields of law but then refers the majority of those cases to other lawyers, the ad shall state "Most cases of this type are not handled by this firm, but are referred to other attorneys.", or "While this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases of this type are referred to other attorneys."

If the ad has any testimonial about or endorsement of lawyers that are paid, that must be disclosed. If the testimonial or endorsement is not from an actual client, that must be disclosed. If that endorsement or testimonial appears in a television ad, those disclosures have to air continuously throughout.

If the ad has a dramatization or simulation of the lawyer or the law offices, it must be disclosed. If that dramatization or simulation is in a television ad, those disclosures have to air continuously throughout.



South Carolina"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."Testimonials or endorsements for which payment has been made or which are not made by an actual client must disclose that fact.

Testimonials must also "clearly and conspicuously state that any result the endorsed lawyer or law firm may achieve on behalf of one client in one matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients."
South Dakota"Written, recorded, internet, computer, e-mail or other electronic communication, including public media, such as a telephone directory, legal directory, newspapers or other periodicals, billboards and other signs, radio, television and other electronic media, and recorded messages the public may access by dialing a telephone number, or through other written or recorded communication. "Disclosures must be provided if the ad contains information about the lawyer's past successes. If the ad contains a testimonial about or endorsement of the lawyer, it must state "This testimonial or endorsement does not constitute a guaranty, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter." If the ad contains a testimonial or endorsement that the lawyer has paid for, it must disclose that. If the testimonial or endorsement is not made by an actual client, it must disclose that. If the ad contains any dramatization or impersonation "which is not predominantly information" it must disclose that fact.
Tennessee"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated
Texas"Public media, such as (but not limited to) a telephone directory, legal directory, newspaper or other periodical, outdoor display, radio, television, the internet, or electronic or digital media."If an ad makes reference to past successes or results obtained, it must provide "adequate information regarding the nature of the case or matter and the damages or injuries sustained by the client, and if the gross amount received is stated, the attorney’s fees and litigation expenses withheld from the amount are stated as well."

Infomercials must state the presentation is an advertisement "(i) both verbally and in writing at its outset, after any commercial interruption, and at its conclusion; and (ii) in writing during any portion of the presentation that explains how to contact a lawyer or law firm."

If an advertisement discusses contingent fees, the advertisement must state whether the client will be obligated to pay all or any portion of the court costs and, if a client may be liable for other expenses, this fact must be disclosed. If specific percentage fees or fee ranges of contingent fee work are disclosed in such advertisement, it must also disclose whether the percentage is computed before or after expenses are deducted from the recovery."

If an advertisement mentions the existence of any office other than the lawyer's principal office, it must state either the days and times during which a lawyer will be present or that meetings there will be by appointment only.

"A lawyer may not, directly or indirectly, pay all or a part of the cost of an advertisement in the public media for a lawyer not in the same firm unless such advertisement discloses the name and address of the financing lawyer, the relationship between the advertising lawyer and the financing lawyer, and whether the advertising lawyer is likely to refer cases received through the advertisement to the financing lawyer."

If an advertising lawyer knows or should know that a case will likely be referred to another lawyer or firm, that must be disclosed.
Utah"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated
Vermont"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated
Virginia"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."An ad must disclose if it contains an endorsement by a celebrity or public figure unless that individual is a client of the firm or if it contains a portrayal of a client by a non-client. If it advertises case results, the ad must state that results depend upon a variety of unique factors and that past case results do not guarantee similar future case results. If such an ad is in writing, "the disclaimer shall be in bold type face and uppercase letters in a font size that is at least as large as the largest text used to advertise the specific or cumulative case results and in the same color and against the same colored background as the text used to advertise the specific or cumulative case results."
Washington"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated
West Virginia"Public media, such as a telephone directory, legal directory, newspaper or other periodical, outdoor advertising, radio or television, or through written or recorded communication."None indicated
Wisconsin"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."If the ad contains any paid testimonial or endorsement, or if the testimonial or endorsement is not made by an actual client, it must disclose that.
Wyoming"Written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media."None indicated
District of ColumbiaNo rule relating to forms of advertising exists.None indicated

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  • Brannen D. Payne

    I wondered when something like this would pop up, with the Law Hawk making the rounds. Thanks.

    One note–Arkansas is lagging behind the model rules, when it comes to attorney advertising. “Dramatization in any advertisement is prohibited,” and we have vaguely-strict requirements regarding actors and content under 7.2(e):
    https://courts.arkansas.gov/rules-and-administrative-orders/court-rules/rule-72-advertising-0

  • Good list, however, Missouri is missing a disclosure required: (f) Any advertisement or communication made pursuant to this Rule 4-7.2, other than written solicitations governed by the disclosure rules of Rule 4-7.3(b), shall contain the following conspicuous disclosure:
    “The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.”