RPC 241

January 24, 1997

Participating in a Directory of Lawyers on the Internet

 

Opinion rules that a lawyer may participate in a directory of lawyers on the Internet if the information about the lawyer in the directory is truthful.

 

Inquiry:

 

A private company is developing an Internet site to be known as the National Attorney Locator. The site will contain an electronic directory of lawyers. The directory will include listings for lawyers from across the United States. These listings can be searched by lawyers' geographic location and areas of legal practice. Each listing will include the name of the lawyer or law firm, the name of a contact person at the firm, firm address, phone number, fax number, e-mail address, and areas of practice. Lawyers must apply and pay a fee to be listed on the directory. The Internet site will have a hypertext section on "Choosing an Attorney" which includes a statement that the National Attorney Locator is not a referral service but an electronic directory.

 

May a lawyer participate in a directory of lawyers on the Internet?

 

Opinion:

 

Yes, provided the information contained in the lawyer's listing is truthful and not misleading. Rule 2.1. To avoid misleading a user of the directory from another jurisdiction, the listing should indicate the jurisdictions in which the lawyer is licensed to practice law and the geographic location of the lawyer's or law firm's principal office. See RPC 239. Rule 2.5 prohibits communications implying that a lawyer is a specialist in an area of practice unless the lawyer is certified as a specialist by the North Carolina 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 in a listing on the directory.

 


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