All 50 states govern lawyer advertising through their Rules of Professional Conduct, often known as “ethics rules.” The rules in each state are unique to that state. Therefore, it is imperative that lawyers familiarize themselves with the rules of the states that govern their conduct.
Rule 7.1 – Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services
A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services. A communication is false or misleading if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.
Rule 7.2 – Advertising
Subject to the requirements of Rules 7.1 and 7.3, a lawyer may advertise services through written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media.
(a) Except as allowed under Rule 1.5(e), a lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services, except that a lawyer may pay the reasonable cost of advertising, or written or recorded communication, permitted by these Rules and may pay the usual charges of a lawyer referral service or other legal service organization.
(b) Any communication made pursuant to this Rule shall include the following disclaimers and disclosures:
(1) Use of actors. If the advertisement uses any actors to portray a lawyer, members of the law firm, clients, or utilizes depictions of fictionalized events or scenes, the same must be disclosed. In the event actors are used, the disclosure must be sufficiently specific to identify which persons in the advertisement are actors, and the disclosure must appear for the duration in which the actor(s) appear in the advertisement.
(2) Lawyer responsible for content. All advertisements and written communications disseminated pursuant to these Rules shall identify the name of at least one lawyer responsible for their content.
(3) Areas of practice. Every advertisement and written communication that indicates one or more areas of law in which the lawyer or law firm practices shall conform to the requirements of Rule 7.4.
(4) Contingency fees. Every advertisement and written communication indicating that the charging of a fee is contingent on outcome or that the fee will be a percentage of the recovery shall contain a disclaimer that the client may be liable for the opposing parties’ fees and costs.
(5) Range of fees. A lawyer who advertises a specific fee or range of fees shall include the duration said fees are in effect and any other limiting conditions to the availability of the fees.
(6) Quality of Services. Statements describing or characterizing the quality of the lawyer’s services in advertisements and written communications are subject to proof of verification, to be provided at the request of the state bar or a client or prospective client.
(7) Statement regarding past results. If the advertisement contains any reference to past successes or results obtained, the communicating lawyer or member of the law firm must have served as lead counsel in the matter giving rise to the recovery, 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 the past successes or results obtained include a monetary sum, the amount involved must have been actually received by the client, and the reference must be accompanied by 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 fees and litigation expenses withheld from the amount must be stated as well.
(c) Any statement or disclaimer required by these rules shall be made in each language used in the advertisement or writing with respect to which such required statement or disclaimer relates; provided, however, the mere statement that a particular language is spoken or understood shall not alone result in the need for a statement or disclaimer in that language.
(d) Any information required by these rules to appear in an advertisement must be reasonably prominent and clearly legible if written, or intelligible if spoken. (e) Nothing in this Rule prohibits a lawyer or law firm from permitting the inclusion in law lists and law directories intended primarily for the use of the legal profession of such information as has traditionally been included in these publications.
Rule 7.3 – Communications With Prospective Clients
(a) Direct contact with prospective clients. Except as permitted pursuant to paragraph (d) of this Rule, a lawyer shall not solicit professional employment from a prospective client with whom the lawyer has no family or prior professional relationship, by mail, in person or otherwise, when a significant motive for the lawyer’s doing so is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain. The term “solicit” includes contact in person, by telephone, telegraph or facsimile, by letter or other writing, or by other communication directed to a specific recipient.
(b) Direct or indirect written advertising. Any direct or indirect written mail communication or advertising circular distributed to persons not known to need legal services of the kind provided by the lawyer in a particular matter, but who are so situated that they might in general find such services useful, shall contain the disclaimers required by Rule 7.2. The disclaimers shall be in a type size and legibility sufficient to cause the disclaimers to be conspicuous.
(c) Additional disclaimer on mailers or written advertisements or communications. Direct or indirect mail envelope, and written mail communications or advertising circulars shall contain, upon the outside of the envelope and upon the communication side of each page of the communication or advertisement, in red ink, the following warning: NOTICE: THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT!
(d) Target mail to prospective clients. In the event of an incident involving claims for personal injury or wrongful death, written communication directed to an individual injured in the incident or to a family member or legal representative of such an individual, seeking to represent the injured individual or legal representative thereof in potential litigation or in a proceeding arising out of the incident is prohibited in Nevada within 30 days of the date of the incident. After 30 days following the incident, any such communication must comply with paragraphs (b) and (c) of this Rule and must comply with all other Rules of Professional Conduct.
This provision limiting contact with an injured individual or the legal representative thereof applies as well to lawyers or law firms or any associate, agent, employee, or other representative of a lawyer or law firm who represent actual or potential defendants or entities that may defend and/or indemnify said defendants.
Rule 7.4 – Communications of Fields of Practice and Specialization
(a) A lawyer may communicate that the lawyer is a specialist or expert or that he or she practices in particular fields of law, provided the lawyer complies with this Rule. Nothing in this Rule shall be construed to prohibit communication of fields of practice unless the communication is false or misleading.
(b) Patent law. A lawyer admitted to engage in patent practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office may use the designation “Patent Attorney” or a substantially similar designation.
(c) Admiralty law. A lawyer engaged in admiralty practice may use the designation “Admiralty,” “Proctor in Admiralty” or a substantially similar designation.
(d) Specialist or expert. In addition to the designations permitted by paragraphs (b) and (c) of this Rule, a lawyer may communicate that he or she is a specialist or expert in a particular field of law if the lawyer complies with the provisions of this paragraph.
(1) Certification. The lawyer must be certified as a specialist or expert by an organization that has been approved under Rule 7.4A.
(2) Practice hours; CLE; liability coverage; reporting. The lawyer must meet the following requirements for practice hours devoted to each field of specialization, continuing legal education in each field of specialization, and professional liability coverage:
(i) The lawyer shall have devoted at least one-third of his or her practice to each designated field of specialization for each of the preceding 2 calendar years.
(ii) The lawyer shall have completed 10 hours of accredited continuing legal education in each designated field of specialization of practice during the preceding calendar year. The carryforward and exemption provisions of Supreme Court Rules 210 and 214 do not apply. In reporting under subparagraph (iv), the lawyer shall identify the specific courses and hours that apply to each designated field of specialization.
(iii) The lawyer shall carry a minimum of $500,000 in professional liability insurance, with the exception of lawyers who practice exclusively in public law. The lawyer shall provide proof of liability coverage to the state bar as part of the reporting requirement under subparagraph (iv).
(iv) The lawyer shall submit written confirmation annually to the state bar and board of continuing legal education demonstrating that the lawyer has complied with these requirements. The report shall be public information.
(3) Registration with state bar. The lawyer must file a registration of specialty, along with a $250 fee, with the executive director of the state bar on a form supplied by the state bar. The form shall include attestation of compliance with paragraph (d)(2) for each specialty registered.
(i) Annual renewal. A lawyer registered under this Rule must renew the registration annually by completing a renewal form provided by the state bar, paying a $250 renewal fee, and providing current information as required under paragraph (d)(2) for each specialty registered. The lawyer must submit the renewal form to the executive director of the state bar on or before the anniversary date of the initial filing of the registration of specialty with the state bar.
(ii) Registration of multiple specialties. A lawyer may include more than one specialty on the initial registration or include additional specialties with the annual renewal without additional charge. Additional specialties added at any other time will be assessed a one-time $50 processing fee.
(4) Revocation and reinstatement. The board of governors shall establish rules and procedures governing administrative revocation and reinstatement of the right to communicate a specialty for failure to pay the fees set forth in paragraph (d)(3), including reasonable processing fees for late payment and reinstatement.
(5) Advertising. A lawyer certified as a specialist under this Rule may advertise the certification during such time as the lawyer’s certification and the state bar’s approval of the certifying organization are both in effect. Advertising by a lawyer regarding the lawyer’s certification under this Rule shall comply with Rules 7.1 and 7.2 and shall clearly identify the name of the certifying organization.
(e) Temporary exemption from CLE requirements. The board of governors or its designee may grant a member’s request for temporary exemption from completion of the specific continuing legal education requirements imposed by this Rule for exceptional, extreme, and undue hardship unique to the member.
(f) Extension to complete CLE requirements. If a lawyer is unable to complete the hours of accredited continuing legal education during the preceding calendar year as required by this Rule, the lawyer may apply to the board of continuing legal education for an extension of time in which to complete the hours. For good cause the board may extend the time not more than 6 months.
(g) Records. A lawyer who communicates a specialty pursuant to this Rule shall keep time records to demonstrate compliance with paragraph (d)(2). Such records shall be available to the State Bar of Nevada and the board of continuing legal education on request.
(h) Guidelines. The board of governors of the state bar shall be authorized to formulate and publish a set of guidelines to aid members of the state bar in complying with the requirements of this Rule.
(i) Law lists and legal directories. This Rule does not apply to listings placed by a lawyer or law firm in reputable law lists and legal directories that are primarily addressed to lawyers.
Rule 7.5 – Firm Names and Letter heads
(a) A lawyer shall not use a firm name, letterhead, or other professional designation that violates Rule 7.1. A trade name may be used by a lawyer in private practice if it does not imply a connection with a government agency or with a public or charitable legal services organization and is not otherwise in violation of Rule 7.1.
(b) A law firm with offices in more than one jurisdiction that has registered with the State Bar of Nevada under Rule 7.5A may use the same name in each jurisdiction. Identification of the lawyers in an office of the firm shall indicate the jurisdictional limitations on those not licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the office is located.
(c) The name of a lawyer holding a public office shall not be used in the name of a law firm, or in communications on its behalf, during any substantial period in which the lawyer is not actively and regularly practicing with the firm. This provision does not apply to a lawyer who takes a brief hiatus from practice to serve as an elected member of the Nevada State Legislature when the legislature is in session.
(d) Lawyers may state or imply that they practice in a partnership or other organization only when that is the fact.
Rule 7.2A – Advertising Filing Requirements
(a) Filing requirements. A Lawyer or law firm shall file with the state bar: (1) a copy or recording of all advertisements disseminated in exchange for something of value; and (2) written or recorded communications the lawyer causes to be disseminated for the purpose of advertising legal services. For the purpose of this Rule, websites are not considered to be advertisements subject to the filing requirements. Submission shall be in a format provided by the bar within 15 days of first dissemination accompanied by a form supplied by the state bar and a filing fee, as established by the board of governors.
(b) Failure to file. A lawyer or law firm’s failure to file an advertisement in accordance with paragraph (a) is grounds for disciplinary action. In addition, for purposes of disciplinary review pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 106 (privilege and limitation), when a lawyer or law firm fails to file, the 4-year limitation period begins on the date the advertisement was actually known to bar counsel.
Rule 7.2B – Volunteer Advertising Committees: Pre-Dissemination Review
(a) Standing Lawyer Advertising Advisory Committees. The board of governors shall create a Standing Lawyer Advertising Advisory Committee to review filings submitted under Rule 7.2A and to respond to written requests from an advertising lawyer or law firm voluntarily seeking an advance opinion regarding that lawyer’s compliance with the advertising rules. The board of governors may promulgate bylaws, rules of procedure, and reasonable fees for advance opinions to offset the administrative costs of these committees, as it deems necessary and proper.
(1) Committee composition. The committee shall have 11 members: 8 of whom shall be members in good standing of the state bar, 4 of whom shall practice in northern Nevada and 4 whom shall practice in southern Nevada; 3 members may be non-lawyers.
(i) Appointment. Members shall be appointed by the board of governors and serve 2 year terms, subject to reappointment at the board’s discretion. No member shall serve a lifetime total of more than 12 years. Members may be removed by the board of governors for cause.
(ii) Minimum duties. The committee shall meet as often as necessary to review all matters before it in a timely fashion. Advance opinions shall be provided within 30 days of submission of the request or sooner. Requests to expedite review of advertisements shall be granted whenever possible within reason. The board of governors may promulgate a procedure and attach an added fee for expedited requests.
(b) Review of filings; advisory opinions to bar counsel. The committee may issue advisory opinions on any advertisement filed with the state bar. If the committee finds that an advertisement does not comply with these Rules, it may issue an advisory opinion to bar counsel within 30 days of its review. The opinion must include the basis for the Committee’s finding of noncompliance. Bar counsel may initiate appropriate disciplinary action if warranted.
(c) Pre-dissemination review. A lawyer or law firm may file a written request with the state bar seeking an advance opinion on whether a proposed advertisement complies with these Rules. The request shall be made in the form and manner designated by the state bar.
(1) Advance opinion. Within 30 days of submission, the committee shall issue an advance opinion to the lawyer or law firm submitting the request for pre-dissemination review. The opinion shall include a finding of whether the proposed advertisement is in compliance with these Rules. If the Committee finds that the advertisement is not in compliance, then the opinion shall also include the basis for the finding and instructions on how the proposed advertisement can be corrected. Such an adverse opinion must also notify the lawyer or law firm of an opportunity for an appeal of the committee’s finding of noncompliance.
(2) Appeal. Appeals are decided by the committee, whose decision shall be controlling.
(d) Limitations; when binding on discipline authority. The committee created under this Rule is primarily dedicated to providing independent, volunteer peer advance opinions to lawyers upon request as a safe-harbor to future disciplinary action only. No request for an advance opinion shall be granted after a disciplinary investigation is commenced on the subject advertisement. In the event an opinion is inadvertently issued by a committee during or after a disciplinary review is in progress, the decision of any disciplinary panel convened pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 105 shall be controlling.
An advance opinion of noncompliance issued under this Rule shall not be binding on any disciplinary panel or bar counsel. An advance finding of compliance is binding on the disciplinary panel and bar counsel in favor of the advertising lawyer provided that the representations, statements, materials, facts and written assurances received in connection therewith are true and not misleading. An advance opinion of compliance constitutes admissible evidence if offered by a party.
(e) Annual report. The board of governors shall file an annual report with the clerk of this court that addresses, among other things, the status of lawyer advertising in this state.
Rule 7.4A – State Bar Approval of Organizations that Certify Lawyers as Specialists
The board of governors of the state bar may, for the purposes of Rule 7.4, approve organizations that certify lawyers as specialists in accordance with this Rule. The board of governors may, in its discretion, appoint a committee to assist the board in implementing a program for the approval of certifying organizations. Any such committee shall be comprised of members of the state bar and such others whom the board of governors deems necessary and proper.
(a) Rules; authority. The board of governors shall implement rules and standards by which the board approves organizations to certify lawyers as specialists in particular areas of law, and which describe the conditions and procedures under which such approval shall be granted, maintained, and revoked. The board shall retain jurisdiction to approve, deny, or revoke approval of a certifying organization under this Rule and may establish fees for administering its duties under this Rule. At its discretion, the board may delegate any other duties associated with approving specialty certification organizations as it deems necessary and proper.
(b) Minimum standards for certifying organizations. To be approved under this Rule, in addition to meeting the standards adopted by the board of governors, an organization that certifies lawyers as specialists in a particular area of the law must make certification available to all lawyers who meet objective and consistently applied standards relevant to the specialty area of law.
(c) Duration of approval; renewal; revocation. The board’s approval of the certifying organization shall be valid for a period of 5 years, subject to discretionary renewal upon application by the organization. The board of governors may revoke approval of a certifying organization at any time for violation of this Rule or violation of any other terms and conditions of the approval. Notice of a decision to deny approval, deny renewal, or revoke approval shall be provided to the petitioning organization and an opportunity to appeal provided.
Rule 7.5A – Registration of Multijurisdictional Law Firms
(a) Applicability of rule. All law firms having an office in Nevada and in one or more other jurisdictions shall register with the State Bar of Nevada and shall pay an annual fee of $500 for such registration.
(b) Definitions. For purposes of this Rule:
(1) “Law firm” means a solo practitioner or a group of lawyers.
(2) “Nevada client” means a natural person residing in the State of Nevada, a Nevada governmental entity, or a business entity doing business in Nevada.
(3) “Resident member” means a Nevada-licensed lawyer who maintains a full-time presence in the Nevada office of the multijurisdictional firm.
(c) Procedure and requirements for registering. An application for registration to practice under this Rule, along with the appropriate fee, shall be filed with the executive director of the State Bar of Nevada, on a form supplied or approved by the State Bar of Nevada, at its Las Vegas, Nevada, office. The application shall include the following:
(1) The names and addresses of all lawyers employed by the firm, the jurisdictions in which each lawyer is licensed, and verification that each lawyer is in good standing in the jurisdictions in which each lawyer is licensed;
(2) Any pending disciplinary action or investigation against a lawyer employed by the firm;
(3) The address and telephone number of a permanent office located within the State of Nevada that will be maintained by the firm;
(4) The name, address, and telephone number of a member of the firm who shall be resident in the firm’s Nevada office and who shall be the designated agent for service of process in this state. The resident member of the firm in the Nevada office must be an active member in good standing of the State Bar of Nevada; and
(5) A certification that:
(i) The firm will maintain a permanent office in Nevada with a resident member of the firm who is also an active member in good standing of the State Bar of Nevada at all times the firm is practicing in Nevada and will notify the state bar of any change of status or address within 30 days of the change in status or address;
(ii) The firm agrees to disclose in writing to its Nevada clients whether all of its lawyers are licensed to practice in Nevada and, if any of its lawyers are not so-licensed, to disclose what legal work will be performed by lawyers not admitted to practice in this state. Upon request of the State Bar of Nevada, the firm shall provide documentation evidencing its compliance with these disclosure requirements;
(iii) The firm agrees to maintain trust accounts in accordance with Supreme Court Rule 78.5, with all funds arising from any matter in Nevada maintained solely in those accounts. The firm shall identify the financial institution where the trust account has been established; and
(iv) The firm agrees to comply fully with Rule 7.5.
(d) Disposition of application for registration. The executive director of the state bar shall have 30 days from receipt of the application to review the application and determine whether it has been completed and filed in compliance with the requirements of this Rule. Upon approval of the application, the executive director shall notify the applicant and shall also give notice of the registration to the supreme court clerk and the district court clerk for the county in which the law firm’s Nevada office is located. If the application is incomplete, the executive director shall give the applicant written notification of the deficiencies in the application. The applicant shall have 30 days from the date of mailing of the notice of the deficiencies to cure the deficiencies and complete the application. If the application is not completed within the allotted time, the executive director shall reject the application.
(e) Application or certificate containing false information. A lawyer who causes to be filed an application or certificate containing false information shall be subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the State Bar of Nevada with respect to such action and the firm shall be disqualified from registering to practice in Nevada.
(f) Violation of conditions. If the State Bar of Nevada determines that the firm is in violation of the conditions set forth in paragraph (c)(5) of this Rule, the executive director of the state bar may, upon 20 days’ notice, revoke the registration and the right of the firm to practice in Nevada. The executive director shall notify the supreme court clerk and the district court clerk for the county in which the law firm’s Nevada office is located of the suspension.
(g) Renewal of registration. On or before the anniversary date of the filing of the application with the State Bar of Nevada, a firm registered under this Rule must renew its registration, providing current information and certification as required under paragraph (c) of this Rule. The renewal shall be accompanied by payment of an annual fee of $500.
(h) Failure to renew. A law firm registered under this Rule that continues to practice law in Nevada but fails to provide the proper information and certification or pay the renewal fees set forth in paragraph (f) of this Rule shall be suspended from practicing law in Nevada upon expiration of a period of 30 days after the anniversary date. The executive director of the state bar shall notify the firm, the supreme court clerk and the district court clerk for the county in which the law firm’s Nevada office is located of the suspension.
(i) Reinstatement. The firm may be reinstated upon the compliance with the requirements of paragraph (f) of this Rule and the payment of a late penalty of $100. Upon payment of all accrued fees and the late penalty, the executive director of the state bar may reinstate the firm and shall notify the firm, the supreme court clerk and the district court clerk for the county in which the law firm’s Nevada office is located of the reinstatement.
(j) Responsibilities of Nevada-licensed members. The members of the firm who are admitted to practice in Nevada shall be responsible for and actively participate as a principal or lead lawyer in all work performed for Nevada clients and for compliance with all state and local rules of practice. It is the responsibility of the Nevada-licensed members of the firm to ensure that any proceedings in this jurisdiction are tried and managed in accordance with all applicable procedural and ethical rules and that out-of-state members of the firm comply with Supreme Court Rule 42 before appearing in any proceedings that are subject to that rule.
(k) Confidentiality. The State Bar of Nevada shall not disclose the application for registration to any third parties unless necessary for disciplinary investigation or criminal prosecution for the unauthorized practice of law.
Rule 1.6 – Confidentiality of Information
(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation, or the disclosure is permitted by paragraphs (b) and (d).
(b) A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:
(1) To prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm;
(2) To prevent the client from committing a criminal or fraudulent act in furtherance of which the client has used or is using the lawyer’s services, but the lawyer shall, where practicable, first make reasonable effort to persuade the client to take suitable action;
(3) To prevent, mitigate, or rectify the consequences of a client’s criminal or fraudulent act in the commission of which the lawyer’s services have been or are being used, but the lawyer shall, where practicable, first make reasonable effort to persuade the client to take corrective action;
(4) To secure legal advice about the lawyer’s compliance with these Rules;
(5) To establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client, to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the lawyer based upon conduct in which the client was involved, or to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the lawyer’s representation of the client; or
(6) To comply with other law or a court order.
(7) To detect and resolve conflicts of interest arising from the lawyer’s change of employment or from changes in the composition or ownership of a firm, but only if the revealed information would not compromise the attorney-client privilege or otherwise prejudice the client.
(c) A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.
(d) A lawyer shall reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to prevent a criminal act that the lawyer believes is likely to result in reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm.
*This information is provided as a convenience to the viewers of this material. Viewers should conduct their own research or rely on the advice of a lawyer before relying on the information here.