skip navigation
search

End-of-life notice: American Legal Ethics Library

As of March 1, 2013, the Legal Information Institute is no longer maintaining the information in the American Legal Ethics Library. It is no longer possible for us to maintain it at a level of completeness and accuracy given its staffing needs. It is very possible that we will revive it at a future time. At this point, it is in need of a complete technological renovation and reworking of the "correspondent firm" model which successfully sustained it for many years.

Many people have contributed time and effort to the project over the years, and we would like to thank them. In particular, Roger Cramton and Peter Martin not only conceived ALEL but gave much of their own labor to it. We are also grateful to Brad Wendel for his editorial contributions, to Brian Toohey and all at Jones Day for their efforts, and to all of our correspondents and contributors. Thank you.

We regret any inconvenience.

Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.


Maryland Lawyer's Rules of Professional Conduct

Comment - Rule 7.2

[1] To assist the public in 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.

[2] This Rule permits public dissemination of information concerning a lawyer's name or firm name, address 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.

[3] Questions of effectiveness and taste in advertising are matters of speculation and subjective judgment. Some jurisdictions have had extensive prohibitions against television advertising, against advertising going beyond specified facts about a lawyer, or against "undignified" advertising. Television is now one of the most powerful media for getting information to the public, particularly persons of low and moderate income; prohibiting television 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.

[4] Neither this Rule nor Rule 7.3 prohibits communications authorized by law, such as notice to members of a class in class action litigation.

[5] Paragraph (a) permits communication by mail to a specific individual as well as general mailings, but does not permit contact by telephone or in person delivery of written material except through the postal service or other delivery service.

Record of Advertising

[6] Paragraph (b) requires that a record of the content and use of advertising be kept in order to facilitate enforcement of this Rule. It does not require that advertising be subject to review prior to dissemination. Such a requirement would be burdensome and expensive relative to its possible benefits, and may be of doubtful constitutionality.

Paying Others to Recommend a Lawyer

[7] A lawyer is allowed to pay for advertising permitted by this Rule, but otherwise is not permitted to pay another person for channeling professional work. This restriction does not prevent an organization or person other than the lawyer from advertising or recommending the lawyer's services. Thus, a legal aid agency or prepaid legal services plan may pay to advertise legal services provided under its auspices. Likewise, a lawyer may participate in not-for-profit lawyer referral programs and pay the usual fees charged by such programs. Paragraph (c) does not prohibit paying regular compensation to an assistant, such as a secretary, to prepare communications permitted by this Rule.

Assignments or Referrals from a Legal Services Plan or Lawyer Referral Service

[8] A lawyer who accepts assignments or referrals from a legal services 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 prospective clients, but such communications 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 prospective clients to think that it was lawyer referral service sponsored by a state agency or bar association. Nor could the lawyer allow in-person, telephonic, or real-time contacts that would violate Rule 7.3.

Reciprocal Referral Agreements with Non-lawyer Professionals

[9] A lawyer may agree to refer clients to a non-lawyer professional, in return for the undertaking of that person to refer clients or customers to the lawyer to provide them with legal services. Such reciprocal referral arrangements must not be exclusive or otherwise interfere with the lawyer’s professional judgment as to making referrals or as to providing substantive legal services. See Rules 2.1 and 5.4(c). The client must also be informed of the existence and nature of the referral agreement. Reciprocal referral agreements should not be of indefinite duration and should be reviewed periodically to determine whether they comply with these Rules. Conflicts of interest created by such arrangements are governed by Rule 1.7. Referral agreements between lawyers who are not in the same firm are governed by Rule 1.5(e).

Responsibility for Compliance

[10] Every lawyer who participates in communications concerning the lawyer’s services is responsible for assuring that the specified Rules are complied with and must be prepared to substantiate compliance with those Rules. That may require retaining records for more than the three years specified in paragraph (b) of this Rule.

Model Rule Comparison

This Rule substantially retains existing Maryland language and does not adopt Ethics 2000 Amendments to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct, with the exception of: 1) adding in substantial part ABA Rule 7.2(c)(4) as adopted by the ABA House of Delegates on August 13, 2002; 2) adding ABA Comment [7] (Comment [8] above); 3) adding ABA Comment [8] (Comment [9] above).