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RPC 239

October 18, 1996

Advertising on the Internet

 

Opinion rules that a lawyer may display truthful information about the lawyer's legal services on a World Wide Web site on the Internet.

 

Inquiry:

 

May a lawyer display information about his or her legal services on a site on the World Wide Web which can be accessed via the Internet, a global network of interconnected computers?

 

Opinion:

 

Yes, provided the lawyer complies with the applicable Rules of Professional Conduct.

 

Rule 2.2(a) permits advertising in public media or through written communications not involving solicitation as defined in Rule 2.4. A site on the World Wide Web is a public media advertisement.

 

All communications by a lawyer concerning the lawyer or the lawyer's services, including communications via computer, are subject to the prohibition in Rule 2.1 on false or misleading communications. To avoid misleading a user of the Internet from another jurisdiction, a Web site should list all jurisdictions in which the lawyers in a firm are licensed to practice law. Rule 3.1(b). Similarly, the Web site must disclose the geographic location of the lawyer's or law firm's principal office. Rule 2.5 prohibits communications implying or stating that a lawyer is a certified specialist unless the lawyer is certified as a specialist by the State Bar or a certifying organization approved by the State Bar. However, a lawyer who is not a certified specialist may indicate areas of concentration or interest on a Web site.

 

Rule 2.2(b) requires a lawyer to retain a copy or recording of an advertisement or written communication for two years after its last dissemination along with a record of when and where it was used. Because Web sites are updated frequently, compliance with Rule 2.2(c) may be achieved by printing a hard copy of all screens on the Web site as launched and subsequently printing hard copies of any material changes in the format or content of the Web site. These hard copies should be retained for two years together with a record of when the screens were used on the Internet.

 

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