Georgia Bar Rule Updates – 7.2 Advertising
New disclosures required for attorney advertising
On March 21, the Georgia Supreme Court ordered amendments to several Georgia Bar Rules of Professional Conduct, including Rule 7.2 Advertising. The core of Rule 7.2 has not changed. Attorneys can still advertise through a wide variety of media, and copies of ads need to be kept on file for 2 years. The Rule 7.2 amendments have to do with the disclosures required in those advertisements.
Prominent advertising disclosures are required
The amended Rule now incorporates a series of requirements for disclosing additional details about your firm and business practices. Gone are the days of microscopic text, as disclosures must now be legible and intelligible by an average person. This includes verbal disclosures, like in radio and TV ads, as well.
Here is a brief summary of the Rule 7.2 disclosure updates:
- Identity and location. Ads must include the name, address, and phone number of the attorney or firm that purchased the ads. This includes the physical location of the “principal bona fide office,” or if there is no office, the address listed with the Georgia Bar. Referral services also must disclose this information.
- Referral practice. The lawyer or firm must disclose if the majority of cases will be referred to other attorneys. TV lawyers take note…
- Spokespersons. Any portrayal of a lawyer or a client by someone other than the actual lawyer or client must be disclosed. This includes non-attorney spokespersons and paid endorsements.
- Fees. Attorneys advertising fixed-fee services must make available to the public a document that clearly describes the scope of each advertised service.
- Appearance. Advertisements that appear to be legal documents, notices, or contracts must include a prominent disclosure that they are only advertisements.
Can these updates really be enforced?
That’s the big question, as the penalty for violating Rule 7.2 remains the same – public reprimand. Seeing a “this lawyer has been disciplined” warning on Avvo or a State Bar website may cause a prospective client to think twice in a highly competitive market. This fact alone should help convince attorneys to think twice before violating the new Rule 7.2.
Will the Rule update really have a positive impact on attorney advertising or the public’s overall impression of the legal profession? I certainly hope so, as these additional disclosures will allow consumers to make a more educated decision about which lawyer to retain.
The GA Bar Rule updates have not yet been posted to the GA Bar website. Please contact me at 770-751-8050 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like a copy of the GA Supreme Court Order. Also consider joining our LinkedIn group, Attorney Ethics and Professional Liability, to read more articles and participate in the online discussion.
Be careful out there, it’s a minefield!