Friday, April 23, 2010

New State Bar Rules on Advertising Part 2

Portraying a Lawyer in an Advertisement
Actors or models may not portray either clients or members of the firm in all attorney marketing materials, including websites and videos.
Paid spokespeople must be identified as such in writing and with an audio voice-over if used in a video.

Organizations Certifying Lawyers as Possessing Special Competence
No lawyer shall advertise that he has been certified by an organization that implies that its members possess special competence, as no organization has yet applied for and obtained accreditation by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization as required by Rule 7.04(b)(2)(ii). The word “specialist” must be true otherwise it must be replaced by the words “focused” or “concentrates”.

Solicitation Communications and Self-Mailing Pamphlets or Brochures
(Nov. 1995, revised June 2005)
For a written communication solicitation letter, the requirements of Rule 7.05(b) are met if the word ‘ADVERTISEMENT’ is printed at least 1/4th of an inch in height vertically on the envelope and first page of the written communication solicitation letter, provided the word is separate and apart from other text.
If a self-mailing pamphlet or brochure is mailed, the word ‘ADVERTISEMENT’ must be printed at least 3/8ths of an inch vertically or three (3) times the vertical height of text font in the body of the communication and in a color that is in sharp contrast to background color. See Rule 7.05(b)(2 1).
If the solicitation is an electronic mail message, the word ‘ADVERTISEMENT’ must plainly visible, be in all caps, in the subject line of the electronic mail message and at the beginning of the message’s text.

No guarantee of results is allowed

Specific dollar amounts for verdicts:
Lawyers have two choices when deciding to publish dollar amounts of a verdict.
Publish the net amount that went to the client
Publish the gross amount of the verdict but break up the listing into attorney fees, court costs and client payout.

Atty to atty communication not covered by rule 7.02- all other communication is.

This from Mary Flood’s blog about the meeting:

Major and others at the Texas State Bar review lawyers' television, print, Internet and other advertising to see if it complies with bar rules. He said the Internet ads have to follow the same rules -- no falsehoods, no misleading, no deception. Lawyers can't call themselves the best at anything, they can't say they got a client $10 million without saying how much went for fees and expenses and they can't say they specialize when they haven't been certified by a board of specialization.

Lawyers need to watch what they say about themselves in anything disseminated to the public, Major warned. He said opposing counsel isn't shy about telling the bar or a judge that another lawyer has bragged improperly about his successes or prowess on Facebook posts among the usual pictures of drunken revelry with friends.

"It's getting nasty out there," Major said, noting more and more anonymous complaints magically make their way to the state bar committee that can fine lawyers $300 and send them for discipline by another committee.

He said to expect more lawsuits over people's online reputations. A boutique law firm is already day set up just to handle such cases and at least one Texas lawyer filed a now-settled lawsuit over his own reputation online, Major said.

And, he said, as the profession gets more crowded we can expect that after election season robo phone calls from politicians, we may get more from lawyers too, especially if we've gotten a speeding ticket.

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