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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.

New Jersey Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct

Comment - Rule 7.1

This is renumbered DR 2-101, which the Court revised and adopted on January 16, 1984. What follows is the comment that accompanied that revision (see 113 N.J.L.J. 91 (1984)).

This rule governs all communications about a lawyer's services, including advertising and direct personal contact with potential clients permitted by RPC 7.2 and RPC 7.3. Whatever means are used to make known a lawyer's services, statements about them should be truthful. The prohibition in paragraph (a)(2) of statements that may create "unjustified expectations" would ordinarily 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 or advertisements containing client endorsements. Such information may create the unjustified expectation that similar results can be obtained for others without regard to the specific factual and legal circumstances.

Under this rule, any complaints regarding objectionable attorney advertising would be channeled through the existing disciplinary structure. The Court will establish a committee to assist lawyers who have questions as to the propriety of particular advertisements.

The inclusion of a requirement of "accuracy" was also considered but was deemed unnecessary. While mere technical inaccuracies will not necessarily render a communication "misleading," any significant inaccuracy that works against the interest of consumers would probably not survive the application of the "misleading" standard.

This rule contains a prohibition on advertising that compares the attorney's services with other lawyers' services. Comparative advertising, if not inherently misleading, has a substantial probability for misleading consumers. This problem stems from the highly individualized nature of all but the most routine legal problems. Just as the U.S. Supreme Court in Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977), limited price advertising to routine, standardized services because of the risk of misleading consumers, so does the Court here prohibit comparative advertising. While the very nature and function of advertising may make self-laudation unavoidable, comparisons are avoidable. The public will not be served by advertising that denigrates others.