Texas Ethics Rules

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    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 7.01. Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services

    (a) A lawyer shall not make or sponsor a false or misleading communication about the qualifications or services of a lawyer or law firm. Information about legal services must be truthful and nondeceptive. 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. A statement is misleading if there is a substantial likelihood that it willlead a reasonable person to formulate a specific conclusion about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services for which there is no reasonable factual foundation, or if the statement is substantially likely to create unjustified expectations about the results the lawyer can achieve.

    (b) This Rule governs all communications about a lawyer’s services, including advertisements and solicitation communications. For purposes of Rules 7.01 to 7.06:

    (1) An “advertisement” is a communication substantially motivated by pecuniary gain that is made by or on behalf of a lawyer to members ofthe public in general, which offers or promotes legal services under circumstances where the lawyer neither knows nor reasonably should know that the recipients need legal services in particular matters.

    (2) A “solicitation communication” is a communication substantially motivated by pecuniary gain that is made by or on behalf of a lawyer to a specific person who has not sought the lawyer’s advice or services, which reasonably can be understood as offering to provide legal services that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know the person needs in a particular matter.

    (c) Lawyers may practice law under a trade name that is not false or misleading. A law firm name may include the names of current members of the firm and of deceased or retired members of the firm, or of a predecessor firm, if there has been a succession in the firm identity. 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. A law firm with an office 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.

    (d) A statement or disclaimer required by these Rules shall be sufficiently clear that it can reasonably be understood by an ordinary person and made in each language used in the communication. A statement that a language is spoken or understood does not require a statement or disclaimer in that language.

    (e) A lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer can achieve results in the representation by unlawful use of violence or means that violate these Rules or other law.

    (f) A lawyer may state or imply that the lawyer practices in a partnership or other business entity only when that is accurate.

    (g) If a lawyer who advertises the amount of a verdict secured on behalf of a client knows that the verdict was later reduced or reversed, or that the case was settled for a lesser amount, the lawyer must state in each advertisement of the verdict, with equal or greater prominence, the amount of money that was ultimately received by the client.

    Comment

    [1] This Rule governs all communications about a lawyer’s services, including firm names, letterhead, and professional designations. Whatever means are used to make known a lawyer’s services, statements about them must be truthful and not misleading. As subsequent provisions make clear, some rules apply only to “advertisements” or “solicitation communications.” A statement about a lawyer’s services falls within those categories only if it was “substantially motivated by pecuniary gain,” which means that pecuniary gain was a substantial factor in the making of the statement.

    Misleading Truthful Statements

    [2] Misleading truthful statements are prohibited by this Rule. For example, a truthful statement is misleading if presented in a way that creates a substantial likelihood that a reasonable person would believe the lawyer’s communication requires that person to take further action when, in fact, no action is required.

    Use of Actors

    [3] The use of an actor to portray a lawyer in a commercial is misleading if there is a substantial likelihood that a reasonable person will conclude that the actor is the lawyer who is offering to provide legal services. Whether a disclaimer—such as a statement that the depiction is a “dramatization” or shows an “actor portraying a lawyer”—is sufficient to make the use of an actor not misleading depends on a careful assessment of the relevant facts and circumstances, including whether the disclaimer is conspicuous and clear. Similar issues arise with respect to actors portraying clients in commercials. Such a communication is misleading if there is a substantial likelihood that a reasonable person will reach erroneous conclusions based on the dramatization.

    Intent to Refer Prospective Clients to Another Firm

    [4] A communication offering legal services is misleading if, at the time a lawyer makes the communication, the lawyer knows or reasonably should know, but fails to disclose, that a prospective client responding to the communication is likely to be referred to a lawyer in another firm.

    Unjustified Expectations

    [5] A communication is misleading if there is a substantial likelihood that it will create unjustified expectations on the part of prospective clients about the results that can be achieved. A communication that truthfully reports results obtained by a lawyer 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. Depending on the facts and circumstances, the inclusion of an appropriate disclaimer or qualifying language may preclude a finding that a statement is likely to mislead the public.

    Required Statements and Disclaimers

    [6] A statement or disclaimer required by these Rules must be presented clearly and conspicuously such that it is likely to be noticed and reasonably understood by an ordinary person. In radio, television, and Internet advertisements, verbal statements must be spoken in a manner that their content is easily intelligible, and written statements must appear in a size and font, and for a sufficient length of time, that a viewer can easily see and read the statements.

    Unsubstantiated Claims and Comparisons

    [7] An unsubstantiated claim about a lawyer’s or law firm’s services or fees, or an unsubstantiated comparison of the lawyer’s or law firm’s services or fees with those of other lawyers or law firms, may be misleading if presented with such specificity as to lead a reasonable person to conclude that the comparison or claim can be substantiated.

    Public Education Activities

    [8] As used in these Rules, the terms “advertisement” and “solicitation communication” do not include statements made by a lawyer that are not substantially motivated by pecuniary gain. Thus, communications which merely inform members of the public about their legal rights and about legal services that are available from public or charitable legal-service organizations, or similar non-profit entities, are permissible, provided they are not misleading. These types of statements may be made in a variety of ways, including community legal education sessions, know-your-rights brochures, public service announcements on television and radio, billboards, information posted on organizational social media sites, and outreach to low-income groups in the community, such as in migrant labor housing camps, domestic violence shelters, disaster resource centers, and dilapidated apartment complexes.

    Web Presence

    [9] A lawyer or law firm may be designated by a distinctive website address, e-mail address, social media username or comparable professional designation that is not misleading and does not otherwise violate these Rules.

    Past Success and Results

    [10] A communication about legal services may be misleading because it omits an important fact or tells only part of the truth. A lawyer who knows that an advertised verdict was later reduced or reversed, or that the case was settled for a lesser amount, must disclose those facts with equal or greater prominence to avoid creating unjustified expectations on the part of potential clients. A lawyer may claim credit for a prior judgment or settlement only if the lawyer played a substantial role in obtaining that result. This standard is satisfied if the lawyer served as lead counsel or was primarily responsible for the settlement. In other cases, whether the standard is met depends on the facts. A lawyer who did not play a substantial role in obtaining an advertised judgment or settlement is subject to discipline for misrepresenting the lawyer’s experience and, in some cases, for creating unjustified expectations about the results the lawyer can achieve.

    Related Rules

    [11] It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation. See Rule 8.04(a)(3); see also Rule 8.04(a)(5) (prohibiting communications stating or implying an ability to improperly influence a government agency or official).

    Rule 7.02. Advertisements

    (a) An advertisement of legal services shall publish the name of a lawyer who is responsible for the content of the advertisement and identify the lawyer’s primary practice location.

    (b) A lawyer who advertises may communicate that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law, but shall not include a statement that the lawyer has been certified or designated by an organization as possessing special competence or a statement that the lawyer is a member of an organization the name of which implies that its members possess special competence, except that:

    (1) a lawyer who has been awarded a Certificate of Special Competence by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in the area so advertised, may state with respect to each such area, “Board Certified, area of specialization — Texas Board of Legal Specialization”; and

    (2) a lawyer who is a member of an organization the name of which implies that its members possess special competence, or who has been certified or designated by an organization as possessing special competence in a field of practice, may include a factually accurate, non-misleading statement of such membership or certification, but only if that organization has been accredited by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization as a bona fide organization that admits to membership or grants certification only on the basis of published criteria which the Texas Board of Legal Specialization has established as required for such certification.

    (c) If an advertisement by a lawyer discloses a willingness to render services on a contingent fee basis, the advertisement must state whether the client will be obligated to pay for other expenses, such as the costs of litigation.

    (d) A lawyer who advertises a specific fee or range of fees for an identified service shall conform to the advertised fee or range of fees for the period during which the advertisement is reasonably expected to be in circulation or otherwise expected to be effective in attracting clients, unless the advertisement specifies a shorter period. However, a lawyer is not bound to conform to the advertised fee or range of fees for a period of more than one year after the date of publication, unless the lawyer has expressly promised to do so.

    Comment

    [1] These Rules permit the dissemination of information that is not false or misleading about a lawyer’s or law firm’s name, address, e- mail 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 abilities; names of references and, with their consent, names of clients regularly represented; and other similar information that might invite the attention of those seeking legal assistance.

    Communications about Fields of Practice

    [2] Lawyers often benefit from associating with other lawyers for the development of practice areas. Thus, practitioners have established associations, organizations, institutes, councils, and practice groups to promote, discuss, and develop areas of the law, and to advance continuing education and skills development. While such activities are generally encouraged, participating lawyers must refrain from creating or using designations, titles, or certifications which are false or misleading. A lawyer shall not advertise that the lawyer is a member of an organization whose name implies that members possess special competence, unless the organization meets the standards of Rule 7.02(b). Merely stating a designated class of membership, such as Associate, Master, Barrister, Diplomate, or Advocate, does not, in itself, imply special competence violative of these Rules.

    [3] Paragraph (b) of this Rule permits a lawyer to communicate that the lawyer practices, focuses or concentrates in particular areas of law. Such communications are subject to the “false or misleading” standard applied by Rule 7.01 to communications concerning a lawyer’s services and must be objectively based on the lawyer’s experience, specialized training or education in the area of practice.

    [4] The Patent and Trademark Office has a long-established policy of designating lawyers practicing before the Office. The designation of Admiralty practice also has a long historical tradition associated with maritime commerce and the federal courts. A lawyer’s communications about these practice areas are not prohibited by this Rule.

    Certified Specialist

    [5] This Rule permits a lawyer to state that the lawyer is certified as a specialist in a field of law if such certification is granted by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization or by an organization that applies standards of experience, knowledge and proficiency to ensure that a lawyer’s recognition as a specialist is meaningful and reliable, if the organization is accredited by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. To ensure 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.

    Rule 7.03. Solicitation and Other Prohibited Communications

    (a) The following definitions apply to this Rule:

    (1) “Regulated telephone, social media, or other electronic contact” means telephone, social media, or electronic communication initiated by a lawyer, or by a person acting on behalf of a lawyer, that involves communication in a live or electronically interactive manner.

    (2) A lawyer “solicits” employment by making a “solicitation communication,” as that term is defined in Rule 7.01(b)(2).

    (b) A lawyer shall not solicit through in-person contact, or through regulated telephone, social media, or other electronic contact, professional employment from a non-client, unless the target of the solicitation is:

    (1) another lawyer;

    (2) a person who has a family, close personal, or prior business or professional relationship with the lawyer; or

    (3) a person who is known by the lawyer to be an experienced user of the type of legal services involved for business matters.

    (c) A lawyer shall not send, deliver, or transmit, or knowingly permit or cause another person to send, deliver, or transmit, a communication that involves coercion, duress, overreaching, intimidation, or undue influence.

    (d) A lawyer shall not send, deliver, or transmit, or knowingly permit or cause another person to send, deliver, or transmit, a solicitation communication to a prospective client, if:

    (1) the communication is misleadingly designed to resemble a legal pleading or other legal document; or

    (2) the communication is not plainly marked or clearly designated an “ADVERTISEMENT” unless the target of the communication is:

    (i) another lawyer;

    (ii) a person who has a family, close personal, or prior business or professional relationship with the lawyer; or

    (iii) a person who is known by the lawyer to be an experienced user of the type of legal services involved for business matters.

    (e) A lawyer shall not pay, give, or offer to pay or give anything of value to a person not licensed to practice law for soliciting or referring prospective clients for professional employment, except nominal gifts given as an expression of appreciation that are neither intended nor reasonably expected to be a form of compensation for recommending a lawyer’s services.

    (1) This Rule does not prohibit a lawyer from paying reasonable fees for advertising and public relations services or the usual charges of a lawyer referral service that meets the requirements of Texas law.

    (2) A lawyer may refer clients to another lawyer or a nonlawyer professional pursuant to an agreement not otherwise prohibited under these Rules that provides for the other person to refer clients or customers to the lawyer, if:

    (i) the reciprocal referral agreement is not exclusive;

    (ii) clients are informed of the existence and nature of the agreement; and

    (iii) the lawyer exercises independent professional judgment in making referrals.

    (f) A lawyer shall not, for the purpose of securing employment, pay, give, advance, or offer to pay, give, or advance anything of value to a prospective client, other than actual litigation expenses and other financial assistance permitted by Rule 1.08(d), or ordinary social hospitality of nominal value.

    (g) This Rule does not prohibit communications authorized by law, such as notice to members of a class in class action litigation.

    Comment

    Solicitation by Public and Charitable Legal Services Organizations

    [1] Rule 7.01 provides that a “‘solicitation communication’ is a communication substantially motivated by pecuniary gain.” Therefore, the ban on solicitation imposed by paragraph (b) of this Rule does not apply to the activities of lawyers working for public or charitable legal services organizations.

    Communications Directed to the Public or Requested

    [2] A lawyer’s communication is not 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 made in response to a request for information, including an electronic search for information. The terms “advertisement” and “solicitation communication” are defined in Rule 7.01(b).

    The Risk of Overreaching

    [3] A potential for overreaching exists when a lawyer, seeking pecuniary gain, solicits a person known to be in need of legal services via in-person or regulated telephone, social media, or other electronic contact. 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 an immediate response. The situation is fraught with the possibility of undue influence, intimidation, and overreaching.

    [4] The potential for overreaching that is inherent in in-person or regulated telephone, social media, or other electronic contact justifies their prohibition, since lawyers have alternative means of conveying necessary information. In particular, communications can be sent by regular mail or e-mail, or by other means that do not involve communication in a live or electronically interactive manner. These forms of communications make it possible for the public to be informed about the need for legal services, and about the qualifications of available lawyers and law firms, with minimal risk of overwhelming a person’s judgment.

    [5] The contents of live person-to-person 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.

    Targeted Mail Solicitation

    [6] Regular mail or e-mail targeted to a person that offers to provide legal services that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know the person needs in a particular matter is a solicitation communication within the meaning of Rule 7.01(b)(2), but is not prohibited by subsection (b) of this Rule. Unlike in-person and electronically interactive communication by “regulated telephone, social media, or other electronic contact,” regular mail and e-mail can easily be ignored, set aside, or reconsidered. There is a diminished likelihood of overreaching because no lawyer is physically present and there is evidence in tangible or electronic form of what was communicated. See Shapero v. Kentucky B. Ass’n, 486 U.S. 466 (1988).

    Personal, Family, Business, and Professional Relationships

    [7] There is a substantially reduced likelihood that a lawyer would engage in overreaching against a former client, a person with whom the lawyer has a close personal, family, business or professional relationship, or in situations in which the lawyer is motivated by considerations other than pecuniary gain. Nor is there a serious potential for overreaching when the person contacted is a lawyer or is known to routinely use the type of legal services involved for business purposes. Examples include persons who routinely hire outside counsel to represent an entity; entrepreneurs who regularly engage business, employment law, or intellectual property lawyers; small business proprietors who routinely hire lawyers for lease or contract issues; and other people who routinely retain lawyers for business transactions or formations.

    Constitutionally Protected Activities

    [8] Paragraph (b) 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. See In re Primus, 436 U.S. 412 (1978).

    Group and Prepaid Legal Services Plans

    [9] This Rule does not prohibit a lawyer from contacting representatives of organizations or entities that may be interested in establishing a group or prepaid legal plan for their members, insureds, beneficiaries, or other third parties. Such communications may provide information about the availability and terms of a plan which the lawyer or lawyer’s firm is willing to offer. This form of communication is not directed to persons who are seeking legal services for themselves. Rather, it is usually addressed to a fiduciary seeking a supplier of legal services for others, who may, if they choose, become prospective clients of the lawyer. Under these circumstances, the information transmitted is functionally similar to the types of advertisements permitted by these Rules.

    Designation as an Advertisement

    [10] For purposes of paragraph (d)(2) of this Rule, a communication is rebuttably presumed to be “plainly marked or clearly designated an ‘ADVERTISEMENT’” if: (a) in the case of a letter transmitted in an envelope, both the outside of the envelope and the first page of the letter state the word “ADVERTISEMENT” in bold face all-capital letters that are 3/8” high on a uncluttered background; (b) in the case of an e-mail message, the first word in the subject line is “ADVERTISEMENT” in all capital letters; and (c) in the case of a text message or message on social media, the first word in the message is “ADVERTISEMENT” in all capital letters.

    Paying Others to Recommend a Lawyer

    [11] This Rule allows a lawyer to pay for advertising and communications, including the usual costs of printed or online directory listings or advertisements, television and radio airtime, domain name registrations, sponsorship fees, 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, television and radio station employees or spokespersons, and website designers.

    [12] This Rule permits lawyers to give nominal gifts as an expression of appreciation to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services or referring a prospective client. The gift may not be more than a token item as might be given for holidays, or other ordinary social hospitality. A gift is prohibited if offered or given in consideration of any promise, agreement, or understanding that such a gift would be forthcoming or that referrals would be made or encouraged in the future.

    [13] 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 Rule 5.04(a) (division of fees with nonlawyers) and Rule 5.04(c) (nonlawyer interference with the professional independence of the lawyer), and the lead generator’s communications are consistent with Rule 7.01 (communications concerning a lawyer’s services). To comply with Rule 7.01, 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 5.03 (duties of lawyers and law firms with respect to the conduct of nonlawyers); Rule 8.04(a)(1) (duty to avoid violating the Rules through the acts of another).

    Charges of and Referrals by a Legal Services Plan or Lawyer Referral Service

    [14] A lawyer may pay the usual charges of a legal services plan or a not-for-profit or qualified lawyer referral service. 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. Qualified referral services are 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.

    [15] 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. 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.

    Reciprocal Referral Arrangements

    [16] A lawyer does not violate paragraph (e) of this Rule by agreeing to refer clients to another lawyer or nonlawyer professional, so long as the reciprocal referral agreement is not exclusive, the client is informed of the referral agreement, and the lawyer exercises independent professional judgment in making the referral. Reciprocal referral agreements should not be of indefinite duration and should be reviewed periodically to determine whether they comply with these Rules. A lawyer should not enter into a reciprocal referral agreement with another lawyer that includes a division of fees without determining that the agreement complies with Rule 1.04(f).

    Meals or Entertainment for Prospective Clients

    [17] This Rule does not prohibit a lawyer from paying for a meal or entertainment for a prospective client that has a nominal value or amounts to ordinary social hospitality

    Rule 7.04. Filing Requirements for Advertisements and Solicitation Communications

    (a) Except as exempt under Rule 7.05, a lawyer shall file with the Advertising Review Committee, State Bar of Texas, no later than ten (10) days after the date of dissemination of an advertisement of legal services, or ten (10) days after the date of a solicitation communication sent by any means:

    (1) a copy of the advertisement or solicitation communication (including packaging if applicable) in the form in which it appeared or will appear upon dissemination;

    (2) a completed lawyer advertising and solicitation communication application; and (3) payment to the State Bar of Texas of a fee authorized by the Board of Directors.

    (b) If requested by the Advertising Review Committee, a lawyer shall promptly submit information to substantiate statements or representations made or implied in an advertisement or solicitation communication.

    (c) A lawyer who desires to secure pre-approval of an advertisement or solicitation communication may submit to the Advertising Review Committee, not fewer than thirty (30) days prior to the date of first dissemination, the material specified in paragraph (a), except that in the case of an advertisement or solicitation communication that has not yet been produced, the documentation will consist of a proposed text, production script, or other description, including details about the illustrations, actions, events, scenes, and background sounds that will be depicted. A finding of noncompliance by the Advertising Review Committee is not binding in a disciplinary proceeding or action, but a finding of compliance is binding in favor of the submitting lawyer as to all materials submitted for pre-approval if the lawyer fairly and accurately described the advertisement or solicitation communication that was later produced. A finding of compliance is admissible evidence if offered by a party.

    Comment

    [1] The Advertising Review Committee shall report to the appropriate disciplinary authority any lawyer whom, based on filings with the Committee, it reasonably believes disseminated a communication that violates Rules 7.01, 7.02, or 7.03, or otherwise engaged in conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects. See Rule 8.03(a).

    Multiple Solicitation Communications

    [2] Paragraph (a) does not require that a lawyer submit a copy of each written solicitation letter a lawyer sends. If the same form letter is sent to several persons, only a representative sample of each form letter, along with a representative sample of the envelopes used to mail the letters, need be filed.

    Requests for Additional Information

    [3] Paragraph (b) does not empower the Advertising Review Committee to seek information from a lawyer to substantiate statements or representations made or implied in communications about legal services that were not substantially motivated by pecuniary gain.

    Rule 7.05. Communications Exempt from Filing Requirements

    The following communications are exempt from the filing requirements of Rule 7.04 unless they fail to comply with Rules 7.01, 7.02, and 7.03:

    (a) any communication of a bona fide nonprofit legal aid organization that is used to educate members of the public about the law or to promote the availability of free or reduced-fee legal services;

    (b) information and links posted on a law firm website, except the contents of the website homepage, unless that information is otherwise exempt from filing;

    (c) a listing or entry in a regularly published law list;

    (d) an announcement card stating new or changed associations, new offices, or similar changes relating to a lawyer or law firm, or a business card;

    (e) a professional newsletter in any media that it is sent, delivered, or transmitted only to:

    (1) existing or former clients;

    (2) other lawyers or professionals;

    (3) persons known by the lawyer to be experienced users of the type of legal services involved for business matters;

    (4) members of a nonprofit organization which has requested that members receive the newsletter; or

    (5) persons who have asked to receive the newsletter;

    (f) a solicitation communication directed by a lawyer to:

    (1) another lawyer;

    (2) a person who has a family, close personal, or prior business or professional relationship with the lawyer; or

    (3) a person who is known by the lawyer to be an experienced user of the type of legal services involved for business matters;

    (g) a communication in social media or other media, which does not expressly offer legal services, and that:

    (1) is primarily informational, educational, political, or artistic in nature, or made for entertainment purposes; or

    (2) consists primarily of the type of information commonly found on the professional resumes of lawyers;

    (h) an advertisement that:

    (1) identifies a lawyer or a firm as a contributor or sponsor of a charitable, community, or public interest program, activity, or event; and

    (2) contains no information about the lawyers or firm other than names of the lawyers or firm or both, location of the law offices, contact information, and the fact of the contribution or sponsorship;

    (i) communications that contain only the following types of information:

    (1) the name of the law firm and any lawyer in the law firm, office addresses, electronic addresses, social media names and addresses, telephone numbers, office and telephone service hours, telecopier numbers, and a designation of the profession, such as “attorney,” “lawyer,” “law office,” or “firm;”

    (2) the areas of law in which lawyers in the firm practice, concentrate, specialize, or intend to practice;

    (3) the admission of a lawyer in the law firm to the State Bar of Texas or the bar of any court or jurisdiction;

    (4) the educational background of the lawyer;

    (5) technical and professional licenses granted by this state and other recognized licensing authorities;

    (6) foreign language abilities;

    (7) areas of law in which a lawyer is certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization or by an organization that is accredited by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization;

    (8) identification of prepaid or group legal service plans in which the lawyer participates;

    (9) the acceptance or nonacceptance of credit cards;

    (10) fees charged for an initial consultation or routine legal services;

    (11) identification of a lawyer or a law firm as a contributor or sponsor of a charitable, community, or public interest program, activity or event;

    (12) any disclosure or statement required by these Rules; and

    (13) any other information specified in orders promulgated by the Supreme Court of Texas.

    Comment

    [1] This Rule exempts certain types of communications from the filing requirements of Rule 7.04. Communications that were not substantially motivated by pecuniary gain do not need to be filed.

    Website-Related Filings

    [2] While the entire website of a lawyer or law firm must be compliant with Rules 7.01 and 7.02, the only material on the website that may need to be filed pursuant to this Rule is the contents of the homepage. However, even a homepage does not need to be filed if the contents of the homepage are exempt from filing under the provisions of this Rule. Under Rule 7.04(c), a lawyer may voluntarily seek pre-approval of any material that is part of the lawyer’s website.

    Rule 7.06. Prohibited Employment

    (a) A lawyer shall not accept or continue employment in a matter when that employment was procured by conduct prohibited by Rules 7.01 through 7.03, 8.04(a)(2), or 8.04(a)(9), engaged in by that lawyer personally or by another person whom the lawyer ordered, encouraged, or knowingly permitted to engage in such conduct.

    (b) A lawyer shall not accept or continue employment in a matter when the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that employment was procured by conduct prohibited by Rules 7.01 through 7.03, 8.04(a)(2), or 8.04(a)(9), engaged in by another person or entity that is a shareholder, partner, or member of, an associate in, or of counsel to that lawyer’s firm; or by any other person whom the foregoing persons or entities ordered, encouraged, or knowingly permitted to engage in such conduct.

    (c) A lawyer who has not violated paragraph (a) or (b) in accepting employment in a matter shall not continue employment in that matter once the lawyer knows or reasonably should know that the person procuring the lawyer’s employment in the matter engaged in, or ordered, encouraged, or knowingly permitted another to engage in, conduct prohibited by Rules 7.01 through 7.03, 8.04(a)(2), or 8.04(a) (9) in connection with the matter unless nothing of value is given thereafter in return for that employment.

    Comment

    [1] This Rule deals with three different situations: personal disqualification, imputed disqualification, and referral-related payments.

    Personal Disqualification

    [2] Paragraph (a) addresses situations where the lawyer in question has violated the specified advertising rules or other provisions dealing with serious crimes and barratry. The Rule makes clear that the offending lawyer cannot accept or continue to provide representation. This prohibition also applies if the lawyer ordered, encouraged, or knowingly permitted another to violate the Rules in question.

    Imputed Disqualification

    [3] Second, paragraph (b) addresses whether other lawyers in a firm can provide representation if a person or entity in the firm has violated the specified advertising rules or other provisions dealing with serious crimes and barratry, or has ordered, encouraged, or knowingly permitted another to engage in such conduct. The Rule clearly indicates that the other lawyers cannot provide representation if they knew or reasonably should have known that the employment was procured by conduct prohibited by the stated Rules. This effectively means that, in such cases, the disqualification that arises from a violation of the advertising rules and other specified provisions is imputed to other members of the firm.

    Restriction on Referral-Related Payments

    [4] Paragraph (c) deals with situations where a lawyer knows or reasonably should know that a case referred to the lawyer or the lawyer’s law firm was procured by violation of the advertising rules or other specified provisions. The Rule makes clear that, even if the lawyer’s conduct did not violate paragraph (a) or (b), the lawyer can continue to provide representation only if the lawyer does not pay anything of value, such as a referral fee, to the person making the referral.

    Rule 1.06 – Conflict of Interest: General Rule

    (a) A lawyer shall not represent opposing parties to the same litigation.

    (b) In other situations and except to the extent permitted by paragraph (c), a lawyer shall not represent a person if the representation of that person:

    (1) involves a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially and directly adverse to the interests of another client of the lawyer or the lawyer’s firm; or

    (2) reasonably appears to be or become adversely limited by the lawyer’s or law firm’s responsibilities to another client or to a third person or by the lawyer’s or law firm’s own interests.

    (c) A lawyer may represent a client in the circumstances described in (b) if:

    (1) the lawyer reasonably believes the representation of each client will not be materially affected; and

    (2) each affected or potentially affected client consents to such representation after full disclosure of the existence, nature, implications, and possible adverse consequences of the common representation and the advantages involved, if any.

    (d) A lawyer who has represented multiple parties in a matter shall not thereafter represent any of such parties in a dispute among the parties arising out of the matter, unless prior consent is obtained from all such parties to the dispute.

    (e) If a lawyer has accepted representation in violation of this Rule, or if multiple representation properly accepted becomes improper under this Rule, the lawyer shall promptly withdraw from one or more representations to the extent necessary for any remaining representation not to be in violation of these Rules.

    (f) If a lawyer would be prohibited by this Rule from engaging in particular conduct, no other lawyer while a member or associated with that lawyer’s firm may engage in that conduct.

    Comment:

    Loyalty to a Client

    [1] Loyalty is an essential element in the lawyer’s relationship to a client. An impermissible conflict of interest may exist before representation is undertaken, in which event the representation should be declined. If such a conflict arises after representation has been undertaken, the lawyer must take effective action to eliminate the conflict, including withdrawal if necessary to rectify the situation. See also Rule 1.16. When more than one client is involved and the lawyer withdraws because a conflict arises after representation, whether the lawyer may continue to represent any of the clients is determined by this Rule and Rules 1.05 and 1.09. See also Rule 1.07(c). Under this Rule, any conflict that prevents a particular lawyer from undertaking or continuing a representation of a client also prevents any other lawyer who is or becomes a member of or an associate with that lawyer’s firm from doing so. See paragraph (f).

    [2] A fundamental principle recognized by paragraph (a) is that a lawyer may not represent opposing parties in litigation. The term opposing parties as used in this Rule contemplates a situation where a judgment favorable to one of the parties will directly impact unfavorably upon the other party. Moreover, as a general proposition loyalty to a client prohibits undertaking representation directly adverse to the representation of that client in a substantially related matter unless that client’s fully informed consent is obtained and unless the lawyer reasonably believes that the lawyer’s representation will be reasonably protective of that client’s interests. Paragraphs (b) and (c) express that general concept.

    Conflicts in Litigation

    [3] Paragraph (a) prohibits representation of opposing parties in litigation. Simultaneous representation of parties whose interests in litigation are not actually directly adverse but where the potential for conflict exists, such as co-plaintiffs or co-defendants, is governed by paragraph (b). An impermissible conflict may exist or develop by reason of substantial discrepancy in the party’s testimony, incompatibility in positions in relation to an opposing party or the fact that there are substantially different possibilities of settlement of the claims or liabilities in question. Such conflicts can arise in criminal cases as well as civil. The potential for conflict of interest in representing multiple defendants in a criminal case is so grave that ordinarily a lawyer should decline to represent more than one co-defendant. On the other hand, common representation of persons having similar interests is proper if the risk of adverse effect is minimal and the requirements of paragraph (b) are met. Compare Rule 1.07 involving intermediation between clients.

    Conflict with Lawyer’s Own Interests

    [4] Loyalty to a client is impaired not only by the representation of opposing parties in situations within paragraphs (a) and (b)(1) but also in any situation when a lawyer may not be able to consider, recommend or carry out an appropriate course of action for one client because of the lawyer’s own interests or responsibilities to others. The conflict in effect forecloses alternatives that would otherwise be available to the client. Paragraph (b)(2) addresses such situations. A potential possible conflict does not itself necessarily preclude the representation. The critical questions are the likelihood that a conflict exists or will eventuate and, if it does, whether it will materially and adversely affect the lawyers independent professional judgment in considering alternatives or foreclose courses of action that reasonably should be pursued on behalf of the client. It is for the client to decide whether the client wishes to accommodate the other interest involved. However, the client’s consent to the representation by the lawyer of another whose interests are directly adverse is insufficient unless the lawyer also believes that there will be no materially adverse effect upon the interests of either client. See paragraph (c).

    [5] The lawyer’s own interests should not be permitted to have adverse effect on representation of a client, even where paragraph (b)(2) is not violated. For example, a lawyer’s need for income should not lead the lawyer to undertake matters that cannot be handled competently and at a reasonable fee. See Rules 1.01 and 1.04. If the probity of a lawyer’s own conduct in a transaction is in question, it may be difficult for the lawyer to give a client detached advice. A lawyer should not allow related business interests to affect representation, for example, by referring clients to an enterprise in which the lawyer has an undisclosed interest.

    Meaning of Directly Adverse

    [6] Within the meaning of Rule 1.06(b), the representation of one client is directly adverse to the representation of another client if the lawyer’s independent judgment on behalf of a client or the lawyers ability or willingness to consider, recommend or carry out a course of action will be or is reasonably likely to be adversely affected by the lawyer’s representation of, or responsibilities to, the other client. The dual representation also is directly adverse if the lawyer reasonably appears to be called upon to espouse adverse positions in the same matter or a related matter. On the other hand, simultaneous representation in unrelated matters of clients whose interests are only generally adverse, such as competing economic enterprises, does not constitute the representation of directly adverse interests. Even when neither paragraph (a) nor (b) is applicable, a lawyer should realize that a business rivalry or personal differences between two clients or potential clients may be so important to one or both that one or the other would consider it contrary to its interests to have the same lawyer as its rival even in unrelated matters; and in those situations a wise lawyer would forego the dual representation.

    Full Disclosure and Informed Consent

    [7] A client under some circumstances may consent to representation notwithstanding a conflict or potential conflict. However, as indicated in paragraph (c)(1), when a disinterested lawyer would conclude that the client should not agree to the representation under the circumstances, the lawyer involved should not ask for such agreement or provide representation on the basis of the client’s consent. When more than one client is involved, the question of conflict must be resolved as to each client. Moreover, there may be circumstances where it is impossible to make the full disclosure necessary to obtain informed consent. For example, when the lawyer represents different clients in related matters and one of the clients refuses to consent to the disclosure necessary to permit the other client to make an informed decision, the lawyer cannot properly ask the latter to consent.

    [8] Disclosure and consent are not formalities. Disclosure sufficient for sophisticated clients may not be sufficient to permit less sophisticated clients to provide fully informed consent. While it is not required that the disclosure and consent be in writing, it would be prudent for the lawyer to provide potential dual clients with at least a written summary of the considerations disclosed.

    [9] In certain situations, such as in the preparation of loan papers or the preparation of a partnership agreement, a lawyer might have properly undertaken multiple representation and be confronted subsequently by a dispute among those clients in regard to that matter. Paragraph (d) forbids the representation of any of those parties in regard to that dispute unless informed consent is obtained from all of the parties to the dispute who had been represented by the lawyer in that matter.

    [10] A lawyer may represent parties having antagonistic positions on a legal question that has arisen in different cases, unless representation of either client would be adversely affected. Thus, it is ordinarily not improper to assert such positions in cases pending in different trial courts, but it may be improper to do so in cases pending at the same time in an appellate court.

    [11] Ordinarily, it is not advisable for a lawyer to act as advocate against a client the lawyer represents in some other matter, even if the other matter is wholly unrelated and even if paragraphs (a), (b) and (d) are not applicable. However, there are circumstances in which a lawyer may act as advocate against a client, for a lawyer is free to do so unless this Rule or another rule of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct would be violated. For example, a lawyer representing an enterprise with diverse operations may accept employment as an advocate against the enterprise in a matter unrelated to any matter being handled for the enterprise if the representation of one client is not directly adverse to the representation of the other client. The propriety of concurrent representation can depend on the nature of the litigation. For example, a suit charging fraud entails conflict to a degree not involved in a suit for declaratory judgment concerning statutory interpretation.

    Interest of Person Paying for a Lawyer’s Service

    [12] A lawyer may be paid from a source other than the client, if the client is informed of that fact and consents and the arrangement does not compromise the lawyer’s duty of loyalty to the client. See Rule 1.08(e). For example, when an insurer and its insured have conflicting interests in a matter arising from a liability insurance agreement, and the insurer is required to provide special counsel for the insured, the arrangement should assure the special counsel’s professional independence. So also, when a corporation and its directors or employees are involved in a controversy in which they have conflicting interests, the corporation may provide funds for separate legal representation of the directors or employees, if the clients consent after consultation and the arrangement ensures the lawyer’s professional independence.

    Non-litigation Conflict Situations

    [13] Conflicts of interest in contexts other than litigation sometimes may be difficult to assess. Relevant factors in determining whether there is potential for adverse effect include the duration and intimacy of the lawyer’s relationship with the client or clients involved, the functions being performed by the lawyer, the likelihood that actual conflict will arise and the likely prejudice to the client from the conflict if it does arise. The question is often one of proximity and degree.

    [14] For example, a lawyer may not represent multiple parties to a negotiation whose interests are fundamentally antagonistic to each other, but common representation may be permissible where the clients are generally aligned in interest even though there is some difference of interest among them.

    [15] Conflict questions may also arise in estate planning and estate administration. A lawyer may be called upon to prepare wills for several family members, such as husband and wife, and, depending upon the circumstances, a conflict of interest may arise. In estate administration it may be unclear whether the client is the fiduciary or is the estate or trust including its beneficiaries. The lawyer should make clear the relationship to the parties involved.

    [16] A lawyer for a corporation or other organization who is also a member of its board of directors should determine whether the responsibilities of the two roles may conflict. The lawyer may be called on to advise the corporation in matters involving actions of the directors. Consideration should be given to the frequency with which such situations may arise, the potential intensity of the conflict, the effect of the lawyer’s resignation from the board and the possibility of the corporation’s obtaining legal advice from another lawyer in such situations. If there is material risk that the dual role will compromise the lawyer’s independence of professional judgment, the lawyer should not serve as a director.

    Conflict Charged by an Opposing Party

    [17] Raising questions of conflict of interest is primarily the responsibility of the lawyer undertaking the representation. In litigation, a court may raise the question when there is reason to infer that the lawyer has neglected the responsibility. In a criminal case, inquiry by the court is generally required when a lawyer represents multiple defendants. Where the conflict is such as clearly to call in question the fair or efficient administration of justice, opposing counsel may properly raise the question. Such an objection should be viewed with great caution, however, for it can be misused as a technique of harassment. See Preamble: Scope.

    [18] Except when the absolute prohibition of this rule applies or in litigation when a court passes upon issues of conflicting interests in determining a question of disqualification of counsel, resolving questions of conflict of interests may require decisions by all affected clients as well as by the lawyer.
    Imputed Conflicts, Nonlawyer Employees, and Lawyers Formerly Employed in a Nonlawyer Role

    [19] A law firm is not prohibited from representing a client under paragraph (f) merely because a nonlawyer employee of the firm, such as a paralegal or legal secretary, has a conflict of interest arising from prior employment or some other source. Nor is a firm prohibited from representing a client merely because a lawyer of the firm has a conflict of interest arising from events that occurred before the person became a lawyer, such as work that the person did as a law clerk or intern. But the firm must ordinarily screen the person with the conflict from any personal participation in the matter to prevent the person’s communicating to others in the firm confidential information that the person and the firm have a legal duty to protect. See Rule 5.03; see also MODEL RULES PROF’L CONDUCT r. 1.10 cmt. 4 (AM. BAR ASS’N 1983); RESTATEMENT (THIRD) OF THE LAW GOVERNING LAWYERS § 123 cmt. f (AM. LAW INST. 2000).

    Rule SB 1189 – Deceptive Advertising Practices

    By: Buckingham, et al. S.B. No. 1189

    (In the Senate – Filed February 26, 2019; March 7, 2019, read first time and referred to Committee on State Affairs; April 8, 2019, reported adversely, with favorable Committee Substitute by the following vote: Yeas 9, Nays 0; April 8, 2019, sent to printer.)

    COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE FOR S.B. No. 1189

    A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT

    relating to certain deceptive advertising of legal services.

    BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:

    SECTION 1. Chapter 81, Government Code, is amended by adding Subchapter J to read as follows:

    SUBCHAPTER J. DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING PRACTICES

    Sec. 81.151. APPLICABILITY. (a) This subchapter applies only to a television advertisement that promotes a person’s provision of legal services or solicits clients to receive legal services.

    (b) This subchapter does not apply to an advertisement by a federal, state, or local government entity.

    Sec. 81.152. PROHIBITED ADVERTISING. An advertisement for legal services may not:

    (1) present the advertisement as a “medical alert,““health alert,” “consumer alert,” “drug alert,” “public service announcement,” or substantially similar phrase that suggests to a reasonable viewer the advertisement is offering professional, medical, or government agency advice about medications or medical devices rather than legal services;

    (2) display the logo of a federal or state government agency in a manner that suggests to a reasonable viewer the advertisement is presented by a federal or state government agency or by an entity approved by or affiliated with a federal or state government agency; or

    (3) use the term “recall” when referring to a product that has not been recalled by a government agency or through an agreement between a manufacturer and government agency.

    Sec. 81.153. REQUIRED WARNINGS AND DISCLOSURES. (a) An advertisement for legal services must state, both verbally and visually:

    (1) at the beginning of the advertisement, “This is a paid advertisement for legal services.”;

    (2) the identity of the sponsor of the advertisement; and

    (3) either:

    (A) the identity of the attorney or law firm primarily responsible for providing solicited legal services to a person who engages the attorney or law firm in response to the advertisement; or

    (B) the manner in which a responding person’s case is referred to an attorney or law firm if the sponsor of the advertisement is not legally authorized to provide legal services to clients.

    (b) An advertisement for legal services soliciting clients who may allege an injury from a prescription drug approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration must include a verbal and visual statement: “Do not stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting a physician.”

    Sec. 81.154. FORM OF REQUIRED WARNINGS AND DISCLOSURES; COURT FINDINGS. (a) A visual statement required by this subchapter to appear in an advertisement must be presented clearly, conspicuously, and for a sufficient length of time for a viewer to see and read the statement.

    (b) A court may not find that a visual statement in an advertisement is noncompliant with Subsection (a) if the statement is presented in the same size and style of font and for the same duration as a visual reference to the telephone number or Internet website of the entity a responding person contacts for the legal services offered or discussed in the advertisement.

    (c) A verbal statement required by this subchapter to appear in an advertisement must be audible, intelligible, and presented with equal prominence as the other parts of the advertisement.

    (d) A court may not find that a verbal statement in an advertisement is noncompliant with Subsection (c) if the statement is made at approximately the same volume and uses approximately the same number of words per minute as the voice-over of longest duration in the advertisement other than information required by this subchapter.

    Sec. 81.155. ENFORCEMENT; PRIVATE CAUSE OF ACTION NOT CREATED. (a) A violation of this subchapter is a deceptive act or practice actionable under Subchapter E, Chapter 17, Business & Commerce Code, and may be enforced by the attorney general or a district or county attorney as provided by that subchapter. All remedies available under that subchapter are available for a

    violation of this subchapter.

    (b) This subchapter does not create a private cause of action.

    Sec. 81.156. CONSTRUCTION OF SUBCHAPTER. This subchapter may not be construed to limit or otherwise affect the authority of the Supreme Court of Texas to regulate the practice of law, enforce the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, or discipline persons admitted to the state bar.

    SECTION 2. The change in law made by this Act applies only to an advertisement that is presented on or after the effective date of this Act. An advertisement presented before the effective date of this Act is governed by the law in effect immediately before the effective date of this Act, and that law is continued in effect for that purpose.

    SECTION 3. This Act takes effect September 1, 2019.

    Rule SB 1189 – FAQ

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Regarding the State Bar Advertising Review Department’s Implementation of S.B. 1189, 86th Legislature Which advertisements are covered by Chapter 81, Subchapter J., Texas Government Code?

    • Based on clear legislative intent, the State Bar Advertising Review Department considers Section 81.151 to apply only to television advertisements for legal services regarding medications or medical devices. The following may not be included in such advertisements:

    • phrases that would suggest to a reasonable viewer that the advertisement is offering professional, medical, or government agency advice about medications or medical devices rather than legal services, including but not limited to:

    • “medical alert”

    • “health alert”

    • “drug alert”

    • “public service announcement”

    • logos of a federal or state governmental agency displayed in a manner that suggests to a reasonable viewer that the advertisement is presented by a state or federal government agency or by an entity approved or affiliated with a federal or state governmental entity

    • the term “recall” when referring to a medical product that has not been recalled by a government agency or through an agreement between a manufacturer and a

    government agency Which advertisements must include the visual and verbal statement, “Do not stop taking a prescription medication without first consulting a physician”?

    • Advertisements for legal services regarding medicine or medical devices that solicit clients who may allege an injury from a prescription drug approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.

    What else does the subchapter require for television advertisements for legal services regarding medications or medical devices?

    • At the beginning of the advertisement, both verbally and visually:

    • the phrase, “This a paid advertisement for legal services”;

    • the identity of the sponsor of the advertisement; and

    • either:

    • the identity of the attorney or law firm primarily responsible for providing legal services to a person who responds to an advertisement; or

    • the manner in which a responding person’s case is referred to an attorney or law firm

    How must visual notices required by the subchapter appear?

    Visual notices must appear clearly, conspicuously and for a sufficient length of time for a viewer to see and read the statement.

    What standard must a verbal statement meet under the subchapter?

    Verbal statements must be audible, intelligible, and presented with equal prominence as the other parts of the advertisement.

    Which advertisements must comply with the subchapter based on the effective date?

    • Certain television advertisements presented to the public via television broadcast on or after

    September 1, 2019.

    • Previous approvals by the Advertising Review Department are no longer applicable for

    advertisements for legal services regarding medicine or medical devices that are broadcast after

    September 1, 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.

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