Advertising Bar Regulations For Montana

When building digital marketing and SEO campaigns for law firm websites, it’s important to be mindful of your state’s bar regulations for advertising. In this article we’ll go over some of the high level points to look out for.

Most lawyer advertising rules in Montana  can be found in Rule 7.1 through Rule 7.4 in the Montana Rules for Professional Conduct. They have been put in place to maintain the integrity of attorney advertising and to prevent misconduct within the realm of advertising. The Montana Office of Disciplinary Control was put in place by the Montana Supreme Court in order to regulate attorney practices. This office deals with all matters involving potential misconduct.

Rule 7.1 in the section regarding legal services states that “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.” A statement can be misleading even if it is truthful if it omits facts that would make up an entire truth. A statement can also be misleading if it would cause a potential client to believe they are guaranteed similar rulings to an attorney’s previous cases. In order to avoid misleading potential clients, Rule 7.3 requires that “every written, recorded or electronic communication from a lawyer soliciting professional employment from a prospective client known to be in need of legal services in a particular matter shall include the words “Advertising Material” on the outside envelope, if any, and at the beginning and ending of any recorded or electronic communication, unless the recipient of the communication is a person specified in paragraphs.”

Under Rule 7.2, a lawyer is permitted to advertise services through “written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media; however, any communication made pursuant to this rule shall include the name and office address of at least one lawyer or law firm responsible for its content.”

Rule 7.3 prohibits soliciting potential clients who may be in need of legal services if a significant motive for the lawyer’s doing so is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain. However, a this does not apply if the potential client in question is either also a lawyer or has a family, close personal, or prior professional relationship with the lawyer. In no circumstance is a lawyer ever permitted to solicit clients who have made it known they are not interested in the lawyer’s services, or if the solicitation involved coercion, duress, or harassment.

While lawyers are permitted to state they do or do not practice or concentrate in certain specific areas of law, they are not permitted to claim they are a “specialist,” a “certified specialist,” or that they “specialize” in any area of law if it could be considered false or misleading under Rule 7.1. A lawyer may only identify as a “specialist” if they have been certified as a specialist by an organization that has been approved by an appropriate state authority or that has been accredited by the American Bar Association, and the name of the certifying organization is clearly identified in the communication.

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