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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.

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Some portions of the collection may already be severely out of date, so please be cautious in your use of this material.

Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct

Comment - 7.1

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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 a prospective client.

[4] Characterization of rates or fees chargeable by the lawyer or law firm such as “cut-rate,” “lowest,” “giveaway,” “below cost,” “discount,” or “special” is misleading.

[5] See also Rule 8.4(e) for the prohibition against stating or implying an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

Comparison to former Ohio Code of Professional Responsibility

Rule 7.1 corresponds to DR 2-101. Rule 7.1 does not contain the prohibitions found in DR 2-101 on client testimonials or self-laudatory claims. However, the rule does retain the DR 2-101 prohibition on unverifiable claims.

In addition, Rule 7.1 contains none of the other directives found in DR 2-101(B), the definition of misleading found in DR 2-101(C) (see comment [2] of Rule 7.1), or the directives found in DR 2-101(D), (E), and (G).

For DR 2-101(F) and DR 2-101(H) see Rule 7.3.

Comparison to ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct

Rule 7.1 is similar to Model Rule 7.1 except for the inclusion of a prohibition on the use of nonverifiable communications about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services.