Summary of Changes Under New Rules
The new Rules specifically state that lawyers may advertise services through public media and written communications (new Rule 7.1(a)). Communications by lawyers on behalf of non-profit organizations that are not motivated by pecuniary gain are not considered advertisements or unsolicited written communications within the meaning of the new Rules (new Rule 7.1(c)).
The new Rules specify content required in any communication conveying information about a lawyer, the lawyer's services or a law firm's services:
1) the name of at least one lawyer responsible for the content; and
2) disclosure, by city or town, of one or more bona fide office locations of the lawyer or lawyers who will actually perform the services advertised [or the city or town of the lawyer's primary registration statement address, in the absence of a bona fide office] (new Rule 7.2(a)).
The new Rules also offer a number of instructive - but non-exclusive - examples of content that may be used in advertisements and unsolicited written communications (new Rule 7.2(b)) which, if chosen by the lawyer to be the only content used within the advertisement/unsolicited written communication, will exempt the advertisement/unsolicited written communication from the new filing and evaluation requirements contained within new Rule 7.7.
Under new Rule 7.7, a lawyer whose advertisement or unsolicited written communication is not exempt by virtue of its limitation to "safe harbor" content - or otherwise exempt according to a list of other exemptions contained within new Rule 7.8 - will now be required to file the advertisement or unsolicited written communication with the LSBA prior to or concurrent with its first dissemination, along with appropriate, specified supporting documentation and a regular filing fee of $175 payable to the LSBA. The LSBA will, under normal circumstances, respond with a written evaluation regarding the ad's compliance with the new Rules within thirty (30) days following receipt of the filing.
As an optional/voluntary alternative, the lawyer may choose to submit the filing and fee to the LSBA at least thirty (30) days prior to the anticipated first dissemination of the advertisement or unsolicited written communication, thereby also allowing the LSBA an opportunity to provide to the lawyer, at no additional charge, a written advisory opinion (as well as helpful consultation/suggestions for revision, as needed) regarding compliance with the new Rules.
Late filings will incur a filing fee of $275.
With the advent of the new Rules, the LSBA also plans to prepare and publish (and update, as needed) a handbook on lawyer advertising to offer examples, instructions and other useful/meaningful information that will assist members with their understanding of and compliance with the new Rules.
Questions and inquiries regarding the new Rules may be directed to LSBA Ethics Counsel Richard P. Lemmler, Jr., (504) 619-0144.