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 false, misleading, or deceptive communications about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services. A communication violates this rule if it:
(a) contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading;
(b) is likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve, or states or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;
(c) compares the lawyer’s services with other lawyers’ services, unless the comparison can be factually substantiated;
(d) contains a testimonial about, or endorsement of, the lawyer
(1) without identifying the fact that it is a testimonial or endorsement;
(2) for which payment has been made, without disclosing that fact;
(3) which is not made by an actual client, without identifying that fact; and
(4) which does not 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.
(e) contains a nickname, moniker, or trade name that implies an ability to obtain results in a matter.
 This Rule governs all communications about a lawyer’s services, including advertising permitted by Rule 7.2. Whatever means are used to make known a lawyer’s services, statements about them must be truthful.
 Truthful statements that are misleading are also prohibited by this Rule. A truthful statement is misleading if it omits a fact necessary to make the lawyer’s communication considered as a whole not materially misleading. A truthful statement is also misleading if there is a substantial likelihood that it will lead a reasonable person to formulate a specific conclusion about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services for which there is no reasonable factual foundation.
 An advertisement that truthfully reports a lawyer’s achievements on behalf of clients or former clients may be misleading if presented so as to lead a reasonable person to form an unjustified expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client’s case. Similarly, an unsubstantiated comparison of the lawyer’s services or fees with the services or fees of other lawyers may be misleading if presented with such specificity as would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the comparison can be substantiated. The inclusion of an appropriate disclaimer or qualifying language may preclude a finding that a statement is likely to create unjustified expectations or otherwise mislead the public.
For instance, the prohibition in paragraph (b) on statements likely to create “unjustified expectations” may preclude, and the limitations in paragraph (d) on testimonials and endorsements does preclude, advertisements about results obtained on behalf of a client, such as the amount of a damage award or the lawyer’s record in obtaining favorable verdicts, unless they state clearly and conspicuously that any result the lawyer or law firm may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Such information may create the unjustified expectation that similar results can be obtained for others without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances.
 Paragraph (e) precludes the use of nicknames, such as the “Heavy Hitter” or “The Strong Arm,” that suggest the lawyer or law firm has an ability to obtain favorable results for a client in any matter. A significant possibility exists that such nicknames will be used to mislead the public as to the results that can be obtained or create an unsubstantiated comparison with the services provided by other lawyers. See also Rule 8.4(f)(prohibition against stating or implying an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law).
Last amended by Order dated August 10, 2016.
Rule 7.2 – Advertising
(a) Subject to the requirements of this Rule and Rules 7.1 and 7.3, a lawyer may advertise services through written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media. All advertisements shall be predominately informational such that, in both quantity and quality, the communication of factual information rationally related to the need for and selection of a lawyer predominates and the communication includes only a minimal amount of content designed to attract attention to and create interest in the communication.
(b) A lawyer is responsible for the content of any advertisement or solicitation placed or disseminated by the lawyer and has a duty to review the advertisement or solicitation prior to its dissemination to reasonably ensure its compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct. The lawyer shall keep a copy or recording of every advertisement or communication for two (2) years after its last dissemination along with a record of when and where it was disseminated.
(c) A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services except that a lawyer may
(1) pay the reasonable costs of advertisements or communications permitted by this Rule;
(2) pay the usual charges of a legal service plan or a not-for-profit lawyer referral service, which is itself not acting in violation of any Rule of Professional Conduct; and
(3) pay for a law practice in accordance with Rule 1.17.
(d) Any communication made pursuant to this Rule shall include the name and office address of at least one lawyer responsible for its content.
(e) 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.
(f) Every advertisement that contains information about the lawyer’s fee shall disclose whether the client will be liable for any expenses in addition to the fee and, if the fee will be a percentage of the recovery, whether the percentage will be computed before deducting the expenses.
(g) A lawyer who advertises a specific fee or range of fees for a particular service shall honor the advertised fee or fee range for at least ninety (90) days following dissemination of the advertisement, unless the advertisement specifies a shorter period; provided that a fee advertised in a publication which is issued not more than annually, shall be honored for one (1) year following publication.
(h) All advertisements shall disclose the geographic location, by city or town, of the office in which the lawyer or lawyers who will actually perform the services advertised principally practice law. If the office location is outside a city or town, the county in which the office is located must be disclosed. A lawyer referral service shall disclose the geographic area in which the lawyer practices when a referral is made.
(i) In addition to any specific requirements under these rules, any disclosures or disclaimers required by these rules to appear in an advertisement or unsolicited written communication must be of sufficient size to be clearly legible and prominently placed so as to be conspicuous to the viewer. If the disclosure or disclaimer is televised or broadcast in an electronic or video medium, it shall be displayed for a sufficient time to enable the viewer to see and read the disclosure or disclaimer. If the disclosure or disclaimer is spoken aloud, it shall be plainly audible to the listener. If the statement is made on a website, online profile, Internet advertisement, or other electronic communication, the required words or statements shall appear on the same page as the statement requiring the disclosure or disclaimer.
 To assist the public in learning about and obtaining legal services, lawyers should be allowed to make known their services not only through reputation but also through organized information campaigns in the form of advertising. Advertising involves an active quest for clients, contrary to the tradition that a lawyer should not seek clientele. However, the public’s need to know about legal services can be fulfilled in part through advertising. This need is particularly acute in the case of persons of moderate means who have not made extensive use of legal services. The interest in expanding public information about legal services ought to prevail over considerations of tradition. Nevertheless, advertising by lawyers entails the risk of practices that are misleading or overreaching.
 This Rule permits public dissemination of information concerning a lawyer’s name or firm name, address, email address, website, and telephone number; the kinds of services the lawyer will undertake; the basis on which the lawyer’s fees are determined, including prices for specific services and payment and credit arrangements; a lawyer’s foreign language ability; names of references and, with their consent, names of clients regularly represented; and other information that might invite the attention of those seeking legal assistance.
 Questions of effectiveness and taste in advertising are matters of speculation and subjective judgment. Some jurisdictions have had extensive prohibitions against television and other forms of advertising, against advertising going beyond specified facts about a lawyer, or against “undignified” advertising. Television, the Internet, and other forms of electronic communication are now among the most powerful media for getting information to the public, particularly persons of low and moderate income; prohibiting television, Internet, and other forms of electronic advertising, therefore, would impede the flow of information about legal services to many sectors of the public. Limiting the information that may be advertised has a similar effect and assumes that the bar can accurately forecast the kind of information that the public would regard as relevant. But see Rule 7.3(a) for the prohibition against a solicitation through a real time electronic exchange initiated by the lawyer.
 Regardless of medium, a lawyer’s advertisement should provide only useful, factual information presented in an objective and understandable fashion so as to facilitate a person’s ability to make an informed choice about legal representation. A lawyer should strive to communicate such information without the use of techniques intended solely to gain attention and which demonstrate a clear and intentional lack of relevance to the selection of counsel, as such techniques hinder rather than facilitate intelligent selection of counsel. A lawyer’s advertisement should reflect the serious purpose of legal services and our judicial system. The state has a significant interest in protecting against a public loss of confidence in the legal system, including its participants, and in protecting specifically against harm to the jury system that might be caused by lawyer advertising. The effectiveness of the legal system depends upon the public’s trust that the legal system will operate with fairness and justice. Public trust is likely to be diminished if the public believes that some participants are able to obtain results through inappropriate methods. Public confidence also is likely to be diminished if the public perceives that the personality of their advocate, rather than the legal merit of their claim, is a key factor in determining the outcome of their matter. It is necessary to ensure that lawyer advertisements do not have these detrimental impacts. This rule is intended to preserve the public’s access to information relevant to the selection of counsel, while limiting those advertising methods that are most likely to have a harmful impact on public confidence in the legal system and which are of little or no benefit to the potential client.
 Neither this Rule nor Rule 7.3 prohibits communications authorized by law, such as notice to members of a class in class action litigation.
Record of Advertising
 Paragraph (b) imposes upon the lawyer who disseminates an advertisement or causes its disseminationthe responsibility for reviewing each advertisement prior to dissemination to ensure its compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct. It also requires that a record of the content and use of advertising be kept in order to facilitate enforcement of this Rule.
Paying Others to Recommend a Lawyer
 Except as permitted under paragraphs (c)(1)-(c)(3), lawyers are not permitted to pay others for recommending the lawyer’s services or for channeling professional work in a manner that violates Rule 7.3. A communication contains a recommendation if it endorses or vouches for a lawyer’s credentials, abilities, competence, character, or other professional qualities. Paragraph (c)(1), however, allows a lawyer to pay for advertising and communications permitted by this Rule, including the cost of print directory listings, on-line directory listings, newspaper ads, television and radio airtime, domain-name registrations, sponsorship fees, Internet-based advertisements, and group advertising. A lawyer may compensate employees, agents and vendors who are engaged to provide marketing or client-development services, such as publicists, public relations personnel, business development staff and website designers. Moreover, a lawyer may pay others for generating client leads, such as Internet-based client leads, as long as the lead generator does not recommend the lawyer, any payment to the lead generator is consistent with Rules 1.5(e) (division of fees) and 5.4 (professional independence of the lawyer), and the lead generator’s communications are consistent with Rule 7.1 (communications concerning a lawyer’s services). To comply with Rule 7.1, a lawyer must not pay a lead generator that states, implies, or creates a reasonable impression that it is recommending the lawyer, is making the referral without payment from the lawyer, or has analyzed a person’s legal problems when determining which lawyer should receive the referral. See also Rule 5.3 (duties of lawyers and law firms with respect to the conduct of nonlawyers who prepare marketing materials for them); Rule 8.4(a) (duty to avoid violating the Rules through the acts of another).
 A lawyer may pay the usual charges of a legal service plan or a not-for-profit lawyer referral service, which is itself not acting in violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. A legal service plan is a prepaid or group legal service plan or a similar delivery system that assists people who seek to secure legal representation. A lawyer referral service, on the other hand, is any organization that holds itself out to the public as a lawyer referral service. Such referral services are understood by the public to be consumer-oriented organizations that provide unbiased referrals to lawyers with appropriate experience in the subject matter of the representation and afford other client protections, such as complaint procedures or malpractice insurance requirements. Consequently, this Rule only permits a lawyer to pay the usual charges of a not-for-profit lawyer referral service. The “usual charges” may include a portion of legal fees collected by a lawyer from clients referred by the service when that portion of fees is collected to support the expenses projected for the referral service.
 A lawyer who accepts assignments or referrals from a legal service plan or referrals from a lawyer referral service must act reasonably to assure that the activities of the plan or service are compatible with the lawyer’s professional obligations. See Rule 5.3. Legal service plans and lawyer referral services may communicate with the public, but such communication must be in conformity with these Rules. Thus, advertising must not be false or misleading, as would be the case if the communications of a group advertising program or a group legal services plan would mislead the public to think that it was a lawyer referral service sponsored by a state agency or bar association. See also Rule 7.3(b).
 Paragraph (d) is intended to work in conjunction with paragraph (b) to provide accountability for the content of lawyer advertising. It applies only to communications that contain substantive advertising or soliciting statements and inferences beyond a lawyer or law firm’s mere name, design logo, and ordinary contact information. Thus lawyers may advertise through promotional items, such as pens, clothing, coffee mugs, and signage without the need for the name and address of an individual lawyer responsible for the materials, provided that such items or signage contain nothing other than the firm name, logo, and contact information; that any logo is merely a design shape and not a depiction; and that any included contact information does not contain a tagline or slogan. Any depiction (such as an animal, hammer, or other recognizable thing) within a logo triggers the requirement of paragraph (d), as does any slogan, tagline, or logo whether used as a part of contact information (e.g., www.sclawyer.com or 1-800-SC-LAWYER) or otherwise.
Last amended by Order dated August 10, 2016.
Rule 7.3 – Solicitation of Clients
(a) A lawyer shall not by in person, live telephone or real time electronic contact solicit professional employment when a significant motive for the lawyer’s doing so is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain, unless the person contacted:
(1) is a lawyer; or
(2) has a family, close personal, or prior professional relationship with the lawyer.
(b) A lawyer shall not solicit professional employment by direct written, recorded or electronic communication or by in person, telephone, telegraph, facsimile or real time electronic contact even when not otherwise prohibited by paragraph (a), if:
(1) the target of the solicitation has made known to the lawyer a desire not to be solicited by the lawyer;
(2) the solicitation involves coercion, duress, harassment, fraud, overreaching, intimidation or undue influence;
(3) the solicitation concerns an action for personal injury or wrongful death or otherwise relates to an accident or disaster involving the person solicited or a relative of that person unless the accident or disaster occurred more than thirty
(30) days prior to the solicitation;
(4) the solicitation concerns a specific matter and the lawyer knows, or reasonably should know, that the person solicited is represented by a lawyer in the matter; or
(5) the lawyer knows, or reasonably should know, that the physical, emotional, or mental state of the person makes it unlikely that the person would exercise reasonable judgment in employing a lawyer.
(c) Any lawyer who uses written, recorded, or electronic solicitation shall maintain a file for two years showing the following:
(1) the basis by which the lawyer knows the person solicited needs legal services; and
(2) the factual basis for any statements made in the written, recorded, or electronic communication.
(d) Every written, recorded or electronic communication from a lawyer soliciting professional employment from anyone known to be in need of legal services in a particular matter, and with whom the lawyer has no family, close personal or prior professional relationship, shall conform to Rules 7.1 and 7.2 and, in addition, must conform to the following provisions:
(1) The words “ADVERTISING MATERIAL,” printed in capital letters and in prominent type, shall appear on the front of the outside envelope and on the front of each page of the material. Every such recorded or electronic communication shall clearly state both at the beginning and at the end that the communication is an advertisement. If the solicitation is made by computer, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, the words “ADVERTISING MATERIAL,” printed in capital letters and in prominent type, shall appear in any subject line of the message and at the beginning and end of the communication.
(2) Each solicitation must include the following statements:
(A) “You may wish to consult your lawyer or another lawyer instead of me (us). You may obtain information about other lawyers by consulting directories, seeking the advice of others, or calling the South Carolina Bar Lawyer Referral Service at 799-7100 in Columbia or toll free at 1-800-868-2284. If you have already engaged a lawyer in connection with the legal matter referred to in this communication, you should direct any questions you have to that lawyer” and
(B) “The exact nature of your legal situation will depend on many facts not known to me (us) at this time. You should understand that the advice and information in this communication is general and that your own situation may vary.”
Where the solicitation is written, the above statements must be in a type no smaller than that used in the body of the communication.
(3) Each solicitation must include the following statement: “ANY COMPLAINTS ABOUT THIS COMMUNICATION OR THE REPRESENTATIONS OF ANY LAWYER MAY BE DIRECTED TO THE OFFICE OF DISCIPLINARY COUNSEL, 1220 SENATE STREET, SUITE 309, COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA 29201—TELEPHONE NUMBER 803-734-2038.” Where the solicitation is written, this statement must be printed in capital letters and in a size no smaller than that used in the body of the communication.
(e) Written communications mailed to the target of the solicitation shall be sent only by regular U.S. mail, not by registered mail or other forms of restricted or certified delivery.
(f) Written communications mailed to the target of the solicitation shall not be made to resemble legal pleadings or other legal documents.
(g) Any written communication prompted by a specific occurrence involving or affecting the intended recipient of the communication or a family member shall disclose how the lawyer obtained the information prompting the communication.
(h) A written communication seeking employment by the target of the solicitation in a specific matter shall not reveal on the envelope, or on the outside of a self mailing brochure or pamphlet, the nature of the client’s legal problem.
(i) If a lawyer reasonably believes that a lawyer other than the lawyer whose name or signature appears on the communication will likely be the lawyer who primarily handles the case or matter, or that the case or matter will be referred to another lawyer or law firm, any written communication concerning a specific matter shall include a statement so advising the potential client.
(j) Notwithstanding the prohibitions in paragraph (a), a lawyer may participate with a prepaid or group legal service plan operated by an organization not owned or directed by the lawyer that uses in person or telephone contact to solicit memberships or subscriptions for the plan from persons who are not known to need legal services in a particular matter covered by the plan. A lawyer may participate with a prepaid or group legal service plan only if the plan is established in compliance with all statutory and regulatory requirements imposed upon such plans under South Carolina law. Lawyers who participate in a legal service plan must make reasonable efforts to assure that the plan sponsors are in compliance with Rules 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3(b).
 A solicitation is a targeted communication initiated by the lawyer that is directed to a specific person and that offers to provide, or can reasonably be understood as offering to provide, legal services. In contrast, a lawyer’s communication typically does not constitute a solicitation if it is directed to the general public, such as through a billboard, an Internet banner advertisement, a website or a television commercial, or if it is in response to a request for information or is automatically generated in response to Internet searches. For example, advertisements that are automatically generated in response to an Internet search are not solicitations. Because those advertisements are generated in response to Internet-based research, they are more analogous to a lawyer’s response to a request for information (which is not a solicitation) than an unsolicited and targeted letter to a person who is known to be in need of a particular legal service (which is a solicitation).
 There is a potential for abuse when a solicitation involves direct in person or live telephone or real time electronic contact by a lawyer with someone known to need legal services. These forms of contact subject a person to the private importuning of the trained advocate in a direct interpersonal encounter. The person, who may already feel overwhelmed by the circumstances giving rise to the need for legal services, may find it difficult to fully evaluate all available alternatives with reasoned judgment and appropriate self interest in the face of the lawyer’s presence and insistence upon being retained immediately. The situation is fraught with the possibility of undue influence, intimidation, and overreaching.
 The use of general advertising and written, recorded or electronic communications to transmit information from lawyer to the public, rather than direct in person, live telephone or real time electronic contact, will help to assure that the information flows cleanly as well as freely. The contents of advertisements and communications permitted under Rule 7.2 can be permanently recorded so that they cannot be disputed and may be shared with others who know the lawyer. This potential for informal review is itself likely to help guard against statements and claims that might constitute false, misleading, deceptive, or unfair communications, in violation of Rule 7.1. The contents of direct in person, live telephone or real time electronic contact can be disputed and may not be subject to third party scrutiny. Consequently, they are much more likely to approach, and occasionally cross, the dividing line between accurate representations and those that are false and misleading.
 There is far less likelihood that a lawyer would engage in abusive practices against a former client, or a person with whom the lawyer has a close personal or family relationship, or in situations in which the lawyer is motivated by considerations other than the lawyer’s pecuniary gain. Nor is there a serious potential for abuse when the person contacted is a lawyer. Consequently, the general prohibition in Rule 7.3(a) and the requirements of Rule 7.3(d) are not applicable in those situations. Also, paragraph (a) is not intended to prohibit a lawyer from participating in constitutionally protected activities of public or charitable legal service organizations or bona fide political, social, civic, fraternal, employee or trade organizations whose purposes include providing or recommending legal services to their members or beneficiaries.
 But even permitted forms of solicitation can be abused. Thus, any solicitation which contains information which is false, misleading, deceptive or unfair within the meaning of Rule 7.1; which involves coercion, duress, harassment, fraud, overreaching, intimidation or undue influence within the meaning of Rule 7.3(b)(2); which involves contact with someone who has made known to the lawyer a desire not to be solicited by the lawyer within the meaning of Rule 7.3(b)(1); which involves contact with a person the lawyer reasonably should know is represented by another lawyer in the matter; or which involves contact with someone the lawyer reasonably should know is physically, emotionally or mentally incapable of exercising reasonable judgment in choosing a lawyer under Rule 7.3(b)(5) is prohibited. Moreover, if after sending a letter or other communication as permitted by Rule 7.2, the lawyer receives no response, any further effort to communicate with the recipient of the communication may violate the provisions of Rule 7.3(b).
 The public views direct solicitation in the immediate wake of an accident as an intrusion on the personal privacy and tranquility of citizens. The 30-day restriction in paragraph (b)(3) is meant to forestall the outrage and irritation with the legal profession engendered by crass commercial intrusion by attorneys upon a citizen’s personal grief in a time of trauma. The rule is limited to a brief period, and lawyer advertising permitted under Rule 7.2 offers alternative means of conveying necessary information about the need for legal services and the qualifications of available lawyers and law firms to those who may be in need of legal services without subjecting the target of the solicitation to direct persuasion that may overwhelm their judgment.
 This Rule is not intended to prohibit a lawyer from contacting representatives of organizations or groups that may be interested in establishing a group or prepaid legal plan for their members, insureds, beneficiaries or other third parties for the purpose of informing such entities of the availability of and details concerning the plan or arrangement which the lawyer or lawyer’s firm is willing to offer. This form of communication is not directed to a prospective client. Rather, it is usually addressed to an individual acting in a fiduciary capacity seeking a supplier of legal services for others who may, if they choose, become prospective clients of the lawyer. Under these circumstances, the activity which the lawyer undertakes in communicating with such representatives and the type of information transmitted to the individual are functionally similar to and serve the same purpose as advertising permitted under Rule 7.2.
 The requirement in Rule 7.3(d) that certain communications be marked “Advertising Material” does not apply to communications sent in response to requests of potential clients or their spokespersons or sponsors. General announcements by lawyers, including changes in personnel or office location, do not constitute communications soliciting professional employment from a client known to be in need of legal services within the meaning of this Rule.
 Requiring communications to be marked as advertisements sent only by regular U.S. mail and prohibiting communications from resembling legal documents is designed to allow the recipient to choose whether or not to read the solicitation without fear of legal repercussions. In addition, the lawyer or law firm should reveal the source of information used to determine that the recipient has a potential legal problem. Disclosure of this information source will help the recipient understand the extent of knowledge the lawyer or law firm has regarding the recipient’s particular situation and will avoid misleading the recipient into believing that the lawyer has particularized knowledge about the recipient’s matter if the lawyer does not.
 Paragraph (j) of this Rule permits a lawyer to participate with an organization which uses personal contact to solicit members for its group or prepaid legal service plan, provided that the personal contact is not undertaken by any lawyer who would be a provider of legal services through the plan. The organization referred to in paragraph (j) must not be owned by or directed, whether as manager or otherwise, by any lawyer or law firm that participates in the plan. For example, paragraph (j) would not permit a lawyer to create an organization controlled directly or indirectly by the lawyer and use the organization for the in person or telephone solicitation of legal employment of the lawyer through memberships in the plan or otherwise. The communication permitted by these organizations also must not be directed to a person known to need legal services in a particular matter, but is to be designed to inform potential plan members generally of another means of affordable legal services.
Last amended by Order dated October 23, 2019.
Rule 7.4 – Communication of Fields of Practice amd Specialization
(a) A lawyer who is certified under Rule 408, SCACR, as a specialist in a specialty field designated by the Supreme Court Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization and approved by the Supreme Court, or a lawyer who has been issued a certificate of specialization by an independent certifying organization approved by the Supreme Court Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization pursuant to the Regulations for Legal Specialization in South Carolina, Part IV, Appendix D, § VI, SCACR, is entitled to advertise or state publicly in any manner otherwise permitted by these rules that the lawyer is certified as a specialist in South Carolina. The name of the certifying organization must be clearly identified in the communication.
(b) A lawyer who is not certified as a specialist but who concentrates in, limits his or her practice to, or wishes to announce a willingness to accept cases in a particular field may so advertise or publicly state in any manner otherwise permitted by these rules. To avoid confusing or misleading the public and to protect the objectives of the South Carolina certified specialization program, any such advertisement or statements shall be strictly factual and shall not contain any form of the words “certified,” “specialist,” “expert,” or “authority” except as permitted by Rule 7.4(c) and (d).
(c) 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. A lawyer engaged in the trademark practice may use the designation “trademarks,” “trademark attorney,” or “trademark lawyer” or any combination of those terms.
(d) A lawyer engaged in admiralty practice may use the designation “admiralty,” “proctor in admiralty” or a substantially similar designation.
(e) A lawyer certified by the South Carolina Supreme Court Board of Arbitrator and Mediator Certification to be appointed as a mediator or arbitrator pursuant to Appendix G to Part IV of the South Carolina Appellate Court Rules or Rule 19 of the South Carolina Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules may use the designation “certified mediator” or “certified arbitrator” or any combination of those terms.
 Paragraph (a) permits a lawyer to state that the lawyer is certified as a specialist in a field of law if the lawyer has been certified under Rule 408, SCACR, as a specialist in a specialty field designated by the Supreme Court Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization and approved by the Supreme Court or by an independent certifying organization approved by the Commission. Certification signifies that an objective entity has recognized an advanced degree of knowledge and experience in the specialty area greater than is suggested by general licensure to practice law. Certifying organizations may be expected to apply standards of experience, knowledge and proficiency to insure that a lawyer’s recognition as a specialist is meaningful and reliable. In order to insure that consumers can obtain access to useful information about an organization granting certification, the name of the certifying organization must be included in any communication regarding the certification.
 Paragraph (b) of this Rule permits a lawyer to indicate areas of practice in communications about the lawyer’s services, for example, in a telephone directory or other advertising. If a lawyer practices only in certain fields, or will not accept matters except in such fields, the lawyer is permitted to so indicate.
 Paragraph (c) recognizes the long-established policy of the Patent and Trademark Office for the designation of lawyers practicing before the Office. Paragraph (d) recognizes that designation of admiralty practice has a long historical tradition associated with maritime commerce and the federal courts.
Rule 7.5 – Firm Names and Letterheads
(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 may use the same name or other professional designation in each jurisdiction, but 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.
(d) Lawyers may state or imply that they practice in a partnership or other organization only when that is the fact.
 A firm may be designated by the names of all or some of its members, by the names of deceased members where there has been a continuing succession in the firm’s identity or by a trade name such as the “ABC Legal Clinic.” A lawyer or law firm may also be designated by a distinctive website address or comparable professional designation. Although the United States Supreme Court has held that legislation may prohibit the use of trade names in professional practice, use of such names in law practice is acceptable so long as it is not misleading. If a private firm uses a trade name that includes a geographical name such as “Springfield Legal Clinic,” an express disclaimer that it is a public legal aid agency may be required to avoid a misleading implication. It may be observed that any firm name including the name of a deceased partner is, strictly speaking, a trade name. The use of such names to designate law firms has proven a useful means of identification. However, it is misleading to use the name of a lawyer not associated with the firm or a predecessor of the firm or the name of a non lawyer.
 With regard to paragraph (d), lawyers sharing office facilities, but who are not in fact associated with each other in a law firm, may not denominate themselves as, for example, “Smith and Jones,” for that title suggests that they are practicing law together in a firm.
Rule 8.5(b)(2) – Choice of Laws
b) Choice of Law. In any exercise of the disciplinary authority of this jurisdiction, the rules of professional conduct to be applied shall be as follows:
… (2) …Any communication made for the purpose of soliciting clients from within South Carolina or advertising a lawyer’s services in South Carolina shall be deemed to have its predominant effect within South Carolina and shall be subject to the provisions of Rules 7.1 through 7.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct and Rule 418, SCACR, regardless of the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is licensed or in which the matter may be pending.
SCACR Rule 418 – Advertising And Solicitation By Unlicensed Lawyers
(a) Unlicensed Lawyer Defined. ”Unlicensed lawyer” means any person who is admitted to practice law in another jurisdiction but who is not admitted to practice law in South Carolina under Rules 402, 405, 414 or 415, SCACR.
(b) Rules of Professional Conduct Applicable. Any advertising or solicitation by an unlicensed lawyer shall comply with Rules 7.1 through 7.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct contained in Rule 407, SCACR, when the advertising or solicitation is:
(1) An in-person contact with a potential client which occurs in South Carolina;
(2) A telephone communication (to include a facsimile of other electronic transmission) to a potential client at a telephone number in South Carolina;
(3) A letter or other document sent to a potential client through the U.S. mail or a private carrier to an address in South Carolina;
(4) An advertisement on a radio or television station located in South Carolina;
(5) An advertisement in a South Carolina a newspaper or any other publication which is primarily distributed in South Carolina; or
(6) Any other form of advertising or solicitation which is specifically targeted at potential clients in South Carolina.
(c) Misconduct; Procedure. For any advertising or solicitation covered by (b) above, it shall be misconduct for an unlicensed lawyer to violate or attempt to violate Rules 7.1 through 7.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another. The Commission on Lawyer Conduct shall have jurisdiction over allegations that an unlicensed lawyer has committed misconduct. The procedure for investigating and hearing these allegations shall be the same as that provided by the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement contained in Rule 413, SCACR, for allegations that a lawyer admitted to practice law in this State has committed misconduct, to include the immunity and confidentiality provisions contained in those rules.
(d) Sanctions for Misconduct. An unlicensed lawyer who commits misconduct under this rule may receive a letter of caution or any form of discipline contained in Rule 7(b)(4)-(10) of the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement. In addition, an unlicensed lawyer who has committed misconduct under this rule may be ordered to refund all fees paid to the unlicensed lawyer pursuant to any contract of employment arising out of the advertising or solicitation. Misconduct under this rule may also be punished as a contempt of the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court may issue injunctions against future violations.
(e) Unauthorized Practice of Law Unaffected. Nothing in this rule shall be construed to allow an unlicensed attorney to engage in the practice of law in South Carolina.
(f) Debarred Lawyer. An unlicensed lawyer who has been debarred in South Carolina pursuant to Rule 7(b)(9), RLDE, is prohibited from advertising or solicitation in South Carolina. See Rule 2(g), RLDE.
Rule 1.6 – Confidentiality of Information
(a) A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the 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 paragraph (b).
(b) A lawyer may reveal information relating to the representation of a client to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary:
(1) to prevent the client from committing a criminal act;
(2) to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm;
(3) to prevent the client from committing a crime or fraud that is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another and in furtherance of which the client has used or is using the lawyer’s services;
(4) to prevent, mitigate or rectify substantial injury to the financial interests or property of another that is reasonably certain to result or has resulted from the client’s commission of a crime or fraud in furtherance of which the client has used the lawyer’s services;
(5) to secure legal advice about the lawyer’s compliance with these Rules;
(6) 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;
(7) to comply with other law or a court order; or
(8) 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.
 This Rule governs the disclosure by a lawyer of information relating to the representation of a client during the lawyer’s representation of the client. See Rule 1.18 for the lawyer’s duties with respect to information provided to the lawyer by a prospective client, Rule 1.9(c)(2) for the lawyer’s duty not to reveal information relating to the lawyer’s prior representation of a former client and Rules 1.8(b) and 1.9(c)(1) for the lawyer’s duties with respect to the use of such information to the disadvantage of clients and former clients.
 A fundamental principle in the client-lawyer relationship is that, in the absence of the client’s informed consent, the lawyer must not reveal information relating to the representation. See Rule 1.0(g) for the definition of informed consent. Confidentiality contributes to the trust that is the hallmark of the client-lawyer relationship. The client is thereby encouraged to seek legal assistance and to communicate fully and frankly with the lawyer even as to embarrassing or legally damaging subject matter. The lawyer needs this information to represent the client effectively and, if necessary, to advise the client to refrain from wrongful conduct. Almost without exception, clients come to lawyers in order to determine their rights and what is, in the complex of laws and regulations, deemed to be legal and correct.
 The principle of client-lawyer confidentiality is given effect by related bodies of law: the attorney-client privilege, the work product doctrine and the rule of confidentiality established in professional ethics. The attorney-client privilege and work-product doctrine apply in judicial and other proceedings in which a lawyer may be called as a witness or otherwise required to produce evidence concerning a client. The rule of client-lawyer confidentiality applies in situations other than those where evidence is sought from the lawyer through compulsion of law. The confidentiality rule, for example, applies not only to matters communicated in confidence by the client but also to all information relating to the representation, whatever its source. A lawyer may not disclose such information except as authorized or required by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law. See also Scope.
 The requirement of maintaining confidentiality of information relating to representation applies to government lawyers who may disagree with the policy goals that their representation is designed to advance.
 Paragraph (a) prohibits a lawyer from revealing information relating to the representation of a client. This prohibition also applies to disclosures by a lawyer that do not in themselves reveal protected information but could reasonably lead to the discovery of such information by a third person. A lawyer’s use of a hypothetical to discuss issues relating to the representation is permissible so long as there is no reasonable likelihood that the listener will be able to ascertain the identity of the client or the situation involved.
 Except to the extent that the client’s instructions or special circumstances limit that authority, a lawyer is impliedly authorized to make disclosures about a client when appropriate in carrying out the representation. In some situations, for example, a lawyer may be impliedly authorized to admit a fact that cannot properly be disputed or to make a disclosure that facilitates a satisfactory conclusion to a matter. Lawyers in a firm may, in the course of the firm’s practice, disclose to each other information relating to a client of the firm, unless the client has instructed that particular information be confined to specified lawyers.
 Disclosure of information related to the representation of a client for the purpose of marketing or advertising the lawyer’s services is not impliedly authorized because the disclosure is being made to promote the lawyer or law firm rather than to carry out the representation of a client. Although other Rules govern whether and how lawyers may communicate the availability of their services, paragraph (a) requires that a lawyer obtain informed consent from a current or former client if an advertisement reveals information relating to the representation. This restriction applies regardless of whether the information is contained in court filings or has become generally known. See Comment . It is important the client understand any material risks related to the lawyer revealing information when the lawyer seeks informed consent in accordance with Rule 1.0(g). A number of factors may affect a client’s decision to provide informed consent, including the client’s level of sophistication, the content of any lawyer advertisement and the timing of the request. General, open-ended consent is not sufficient.
Disclosure Adverse to Client
 Although the public interest is usually best served by a strict rule requiring lawyers to preserve the confidentiality of information relating to the representation of their clients, the confidentiality rule is subject to limited exceptions. The lawyer may learn that a client intends prospective conduct that is criminal. As stated in paragraph (b)(1), the lawyer has professional discretion to reveal information in order to prevent such consequences. Paragraph (b)(2) recognizes the overriding value of life and physical integrity and permits disclosure reasonably necessary to prevent reasonably certain death or substantial bodily harm. Such harm is reasonably certain to occur if it will be suffered imminently or if there is a present and substantial threat that a person will suffer such harm at a later date if the lawyer fails to take action necessary to eliminate the threat. Thus, a lawyer who knows that a client has accidentally discharged toxic waste into a town’s water supply may reveal this information to the authorities if there is a present and substantial risk that a person who drinks the water will contract a life-threatening or debilitating disease and the lawyer’s disclosure is necessary to eliminate the threat or reduce the number of victims.
 Paragraph (b)(3) does not limit the breadth of Paragraph (b)(1), but describes one specific example of a situation in which disclosure is permitted to prevent a criminal act by the client. Paragraph (b)(3) is a limited exception to the rule of confidentiality that permits the lawyer to reveal information to the extent necessary to enable affected persons or appropriate authorities to prevent the client from committing a crime or fraud, as defined in Rule 1.0(e), that is reasonably certain to result in substantial injury to the financial or property interests of another and in furtherance of which the client has used or is using the lawyer’s services. Such a serious abuse of the client-lawyer relationship by the client forfeits the protection of this Rule. The client can, of course, prevent such disclosure by refraining from the wrongful conduct. Although paragraph (b)(3) does not require the lawyer to reveal the client’s misconduct, the lawyer may not counsel or assist the client in conduct the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent. See Rule 1.2(d). See also Rule 1.16 with respect to the lawyer’s obligation or right to withdraw from the representation of the client in such circumstances, and Rule 1.13(c), which permits the lawyer, where the client is an organization, to reveal information relating to the representation in limited circumstances.
 Paragraph (b)(4) addresses the situation in which the lawyer does not learn of the client’s crime or fraud until after it has been consummated. Although the client no longer has the option of preventing disclosure by refraining from the wrongful conduct, there will be situations in which the loss suffered by the affected person can be prevented, rectified or mitigated. In such situations, the lawyer may disclose information relating to the representation to the extent necessary to enable the affected persons to prevent or mitigate reasonably certain losses or to attempt to recoup their losses. Paragraph (b)(4) does not apply when a person who has committed a crime or fraud thereafter employs a lawyer for representation concerning that offense.
 A lawyer’s confidentiality obligations do not preclude a lawyer from securing confidential legal advice about the lawyer’s personal responsibility to comply with these Rules. In most situations, disclosing information to secure such advice will be impliedly authorized for the lawyer to carry out the representation. Even when the disclosure is not impliedly authorized, paragraph (b)(5) permits such disclosure because of the importance of a lawyer’s compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct.
 Where a legal claim or disciplinary charge alleges complicity of the lawyer in a client’s conduct or other misconduct of the lawyer involving representation of the client, the lawyer may respond to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to establish a defense. The same is true with respect to a claim involving the conduct or representation of a former client. Such a charge can arise in a civil, criminal, disciplinary or other proceeding and can be based on a wrong allegedly committed by the lawyer against the client or on a wrong alleged by a third person, for example, a person claiming to have been defrauded by the lawyer and client acting together. The lawyer’s right to respond arises when an assertion of such complicity has been made. Paragraph (b)(6) does not require the lawyer to await the commencement of an action or proceeding that charges such complicity, so that the defense may be established by responding directly to a third party who has made such an assertion. The right to defend also applies, of course, where a proceeding has been commenced.
 A lawyer entitled to a fee is permitted by paragraph (b)(6) to prove the services rendered in an action to collect it. This aspect of the rule expresses the principle that the beneficiary of a fiduciary relationship may not exploit it to the detriment of the fiduciary.
Detection of Conflicts of Interest
 Paragraph (b)(8) recognizes that lawyers in different firms may need to disclose limited information to each other to detect and resolve conflicts of interest, such as when a lawyer is considering an association with another firm, two or more firms are considering a merger, or a lawyer is considering the purchase of a law practice. See Rule 1.17, Comment . Under these circumstances, lawyers and law firms are permitted to disclose limited information, but only once substantive discussions regarding the new relationship have occurred. Any such disclosure should ordinarily include no more than the identity of the persons and entities involved in a matter, a brief summary of the general issues involved, and information about whether the matter has terminated. Even this limited information, however, should be disclosed only to the extent reasonably necessary to detect and resolve conflicts of interest that might arise from the possible new relationship. Moreover, the disclosure of any information is prohibited if it would compromise the attorney-client privilege or otherwise prejudice the client (e.g., the fact that a corporate client is seeking advice on a corporate takeover that has not been publicly announced; that a person has consulted a lawyer about the possibility of divorce before the person’s intentions are known to the person’s spouse; or that a person has consulted a lawyer about a criminal investigation that has not led to a public charge). Under those circumstances, paragraph (a) prohibits disclosure unless the client or former client gives informed consent. A lawyer’s fiduciary duty to the lawyer’s firm may also govern a lawyer’s conduct when exploring an association with another firm and is beyond the scope of these Rules.
 Any information disclosed pursuant to paragraph (b)(8) may be used or further disclosed only to the extent necessary to detect and resolve conflicts of interest. Paragraph (b)(8) does not restrict the use of information acquired by means independent of any disclosure pursuant to paragraph (b)(8). Paragraph (b)(8) also does not affect the disclosure of information within a law firm when the disclosure is otherwise authorized, see Comment , such as when a lawyer in a firm discloses information to another lawyer in the same firm to detect and resolve conflicts of interest that could arise in connection with undertaking a new representation.
 Other law may require that a lawyer disclose information about a client. Whether such a law supersedes Rule 1.6 is a question of law beyond the scope of these Rules. When disclosure of information relating to the representation appears to be required by other law, the lawyer must discuss the matter with the client to the extent required by Rule 1.4. If, however, the other law supersedes this Rule and requires disclosure, paragraph (b)(7) permits the lawyer to make such disclosures as are necessary to comply with the law.
 A lawyer may be ordered to reveal information relating to the representation of a client by a court or by another tribunal or governmental entity claiming authority pursuant to other law to compel the disclosure. Absent informed consent of the client to do otherwise, the lawyer should assert on behalf of the client all nonfrivolous claims that the order is not authorized by other law or that the information sought is protected against disclosure by the attorney-client privilege or other applicable law. In the event of an adverse ruling, the lawyer must consult with the client about the possibility of appeal to the extent required by Rule 1.4. Unless review is sought, however, paragraph (b)(7) permits the lawyer to comply with the court’s order.
 Paragraph (b) permits disclosure only to the extent the lawyer reasonably believes the disclosure is necessary to accomplish one of the purposes specified. Where practicable, the lawyer should first seek to persuade the client to take suitable action to obviate the need for disclosure. In any case, a disclosure adverse to the client’s interest should be no greater than the lawyer reasonably believes necessary to accomplish the purpose. If the disclosure will be made in connection with a judicial proceeding, the disclosure should be made in a manner that limits access to the information to the tribunal or other persons having a need to know it and appropriate protective orders or other arrangements should be sought by the lawyer to the fullest extent practicable.
 Paragraph (b) permits but does not require the disclosure of information relating to a client’s representation to accomplish the purposes specified in paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(7). In exercising the discretion conferred by this Rule, the lawyer may consider such factors as the nature of the lawyer’s relationship with the client and with those who might be injured by the client, the lawyer’s own involvement in the transaction and factors that may extenuate the conduct in question. A lawyer’s decision not to disclose as permitted by paragraph (b) does not violate this Rule. Disclosure may be required, however, by other Rules. Some Rules require disclosure only if such disclosure would be permitted by paragraph (b). See Rules 1.2(d), 4.1(b), 8.1 and 8.3. Rule 3.3, on the other hand, requires disclosure in some circumstances regardless of whether such disclosure is permitted by this Rule. See Rule 3.3(c).
Acting Competently to Preserve Confidentiality
 Paragraph (c) requires a lawyer to act competently to safeguard information relating to the representation of a client against unauthorized access by third parties and against inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure by the lawyer or other persons who are participating in the representation of the client or who are subject to the lawyer’s supervision. See Rules 1.1, 5.1 and 5.3. The unauthorized access to, or the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, information relating to the representation of a client does not constitute a violation of paragraph (c) if the lawyer has made reasonable efforts to prevent the access or disclosure. Factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of the lawyer’s efforts include, but are not limited to, the sensitivity of the information, the likelihood of disclosure if additional safeguards are not employed, the cost of employing additional safeguards, the difficulty of implementing the safeguards, and the extent to which the safeguards adversely affect the lawyer’s ability to represent clients (e.g., by making a device or important piece of software excessively difficult to use). A client may require the lawyer to implement special security measures not required by this Rule or may give informed consent to forgo security measures that would otherwise be required by this Rule. Whether a lawyer may be required to take additional steps to safeguard a client’s information in order to comply with other law, such as state and federal laws that govern data privacy or that impose notification requirements upon the loss of, or unauthorized access to, electronic information, is beyond the scope of these Rules.
 When transmitting a communication that includes information relating to the representation of a client, the lawyer must take reasonable precautions to prevent the information from coming into the hands of unintended recipients. This duty, however, does not require that the lawyer use special security measures if the method of communication affords a reasonable expectation of privacy. Special circumstances, however, may warrant special precautions. Factors to be considered in determining the reasonableness of the lawyer’s expectation of confidentiality include the sensitivity of the information and the extent to which the privacy of the communication is protected by law or by a confidentiality agreement. A client may require the lawyer to implement special security measures not required by this Rule or may give informed consent to the use of a means of communication that would otherwise be prohibited by this Rule. Whether a lawyer may be required to take additional steps in order to comply with other law, such as state and federal laws that govern data privacy, is beyond the scope of these Rules.
 The duty of confidentiality continues after the client-lawyer relationship has terminated. See Rule 1.9(c)(2). See Rule 1.9(c)(1) for the prohibition against using such information to the disadvantage of the former client.
Last amended by Order dated November 27, 2019.
*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.