Model Rule 7.1 is as follows, although it may vary somewhat in your State.
A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services. A communication is false or misleading if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.
Rule 7.1 prohibits “false or misleading” communications. What is “false” is obvious and we won’t spend any time on it. We wouldn’t say anything in our communications that is untruthful and we , as lawyers, don’t need a rule to tell us not to lie in our content. We hold ourselves to a higher standard than that.
But what is “misleading?”
“Misleading” is dependent to some extent upon the sophistication of your visitor and on your local rules. Since we can expect that legal consumers of all varieties will eventually happen upon your website, we need to keep in mind that we need to cater to all people when making sure that no one is mislead by your content.
In the Model Rules, and in the 49 States that have adopted the Model Rules, Rule 7.1 basically says that: “We shall not make false or misleading communications about our services.”
This prohibition includes truthful statements we make which may cause a layperson to be misled by what they are reading in your content. We are going to get more specific in subsequent blog posts about some categories of statements that have been determined to be misleading under the Model Rules and the various States’ interpretation thereof.