Advertising Bar Regulations For Utah

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.

All applicable rules regarding digital advertising in the state of Utah can be found in the Utah Rules for Professional Conduct. Rules regarding advertising can be found at Rule 7.1-7.4.

Rule 7.1: This rule regulates an attorney’s truthfulness in their advertising. It states: “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 communication considered as a whole not materially misleading.” Even truthful statements can be considered misleading if they omit a fact necessary to make the lawyer’s communication considered as a whole not materially misleading, or 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.

Rule 7.2: This rule permits an attorney advertise their services through public media, including internet and electronic media in order to assist the public in learning about and obtaining legal services. However, ff the advertisement is a dramatization or uses any actors to portray a lawyer, members of the law firm, or clients or utilizes depictions of fictionalized events or scenes, this must be disclosed. An attorney is prohibited from giving anything of value, to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services, and 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: This rule regulates the solicitation of potential clients by attorneys. The Utah bar defines solicitation as: “a targeted communication initiated by the lawyer that is directed to a specific person and that offers to provide, or can reasonably be understood as offering to provide, legal services.” Rule 7.3 prohibits attorneys from soliciting professional employment from any prospective clients if a significant motive is their own pecuniary gain, and also if the target of the solicitation has made known to the lawyer a desire not to be solicited by the lawyer; or the solicitation involves coercion, duress or harassment.

Rule 7.4: While this rule does permit a lawyer to disclose whether or not they practice in particular fields of law, it prohibits a lawyer from claiming to be “certified” or a “specialist” in any area of law unless:

  • The lawyer admitted to engage in patent practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office may use the designation “Patent Attorney” or a substantially similar designation.
  • The lawyer engaged in Admiralty practice may use the designation “Admiralty,” “Proctor in Admiralty” or substantially similar designation.
  • The lawyer has 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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