ABA releases proposed changes to lawyer advertising model rules

Dec. 21, 2017 — Updated proposed changes to the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct regarding information about legal services has been posted on the website of the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility.

The proposal would amend ABA Model Rules 7.1: Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services, 7.2: Advertising, 7.3: Solicitation of Clients, 7.4: Communication of Fields of Practice and Specialization, and 7.5: Firm Names and Letterheads, and would add a new provision to Model Rule 1.0:Terminology.  The key changes focus on model rule provisions related to false and misleading “communications” and solicitations by lawyers.

The Standing Committee, which has shepherded the process of review of these model rules, will sponsor a public forum to hear comments on its working draft of proposed changes during the upcoming ABA Midyear Meeting in Vancouver, Canada. The forum will be held on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Vancouver Convention Centre, in Rooms 119 and 120. Written comments may also be submitted by March 1 to modelruleamend@americanbar.org.

The process of review was initiated by The Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers (APRL) when it released reports in 2015 and 2016 urging changes to the Model Rules. The ethics committee’s working draft follows an open forum on the APRL reports sponsored by the ethics committee at the 2017 ABA Midyear Meeting in Miami.

The proposal may be viewed by visiting www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/committees_commissions/ethicsandprofessionalresponsibility.html www.americanbar.org/groups/professional_responsibility/committees_commissions/ethicsandprofessionalresponsibility.html and scrolling down to “Updates.”

Similar to other model rules, those focused on advertising and communication are meant as guidelines for state ethics bodies to adopt.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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