The rules in the State of Michigan for attorney advertising are codified in the Michigan Lawyer’s Rules of Professional Conduct. The bar rules in Michigan govern attorney advertisement. Before beginning a new internet marketing campaign, it is important to read the rules in their entirety.
Many of the rules related to attorney advertising in the State of Michigan can be found in the section on “Information About Legal Services” that govern the promotion of law-related services and deal with advertising and solicitation. Additional guidance can be found in the comments to each rule and the reporter’s notes. In many respects, the rules track closely with the Model Rules from the American Bar Association.
Before launching any advertising, the attorney in Michigan should make sure that the website is in full compliance with all applicable bar rules. Any failure to do so can result in disciplinary action or sanctions against the attorney. For this reason, it is important to consult with your own attorney before engaging in advertising.
Starting September 1, 2019, new rules from Michigan Supreme Court will change advertising requirements for lawyers and law firms. The amendment to Rule 7.2 of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct in subsection (d) now provides:
“For purposes of media advertising, services of a lawyer or law firm that are advertised under the heading of a phone number, web address, icon, or trade name shall identify the name and contact information of at least one lawyer responsible for the content of the advertisement. The identification shall appear on or in the advertisement itself; or, if that is not practical due to space limitations, the identification shall be prominently displayed on the home page of the law firm’s website and any other website used by the law firm for advertising purposes.”
Prohibited Language on Michigan Legal Websites
Generally, an attorney must not make any communications that are not false, fraudulent, misleading, or deceptive, according to Rule 7.1 of the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct. The rule further states that an attorney must not make any type of communication, including on a website, that:
Contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law;
Omits a fact necessary to make the statement not misleading when taken as a whole;
Creates an unjustified expectation about the results the attorney is able to achieve; or
Compares the attorney’s services to that of another, unless the comparison can be verified through facts.
Additionally, according to the comments of Rule 7.1, statements that may create an unjustified expectation as to the attorney’s services can include:
Results previously obtained on a client’s behalf,
The lawyer’s record in obtaining favorable verdicts,
The amount of the damage award in any given case, and
Any other advertisement containing a client endorsement.
According to the comments to Rule 7.2, an attorney or law firm may not pay another person or party to recommend their services, except in the case of another organization that recommends the attorney’s services, such as a legal aid agency or a prepaid legal services plan.