Rule 7.1 Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services

(a) 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 statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.

(b) Subject to the requirements of paragraph (a) above and RPCs 7.3 and 7.6, a lawyer may advertise services through written, recorded, or electronic communications, including public media. Any communication made under this Rule shall include the name and contact information of at least one lawyer or law firm responsible for its content.

(c) A copy or recording of each advertisement shall be retained by the lawyer for two years after its last dissemination along with a record of when and where the advertisement appeared.      


[1] This Rule governs all communications about a lawyer’s services.  Whatever means are used to make known a lawyer’s services, statements about them must be truthful.

[2] Truthful statements that are misleading are also prohibited by this Rule. A truthful statement is misleading if it omits a fact necessary to make the lawyer’s communication considered as a whole not materially misleading. A truthful statement is also misleading 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.

[3] An advertisement that truthfully reports a lawyer’s achievements on behalf of clients or former clients may be misleading if presented so as to lead a reasonable person to form an unjustified expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client’s case. Similarly, an unsubstantiated comparison of the lawyer’s services or fees with the services or fees of other lawyers may be misleading if presented with such specificity as would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the comparison can be substantiated. The inclusion of an appropriate disclaimer or qualifying language may preclude a finding that a statement is likely to create unjustified expectations or otherwise mislead the public.

[4] It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation. RPC 8.4(c).  See also RPC 8.4(e) for the prohibition against stating or implying an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

[5] To assist the public in learning about and obtaining legal services, lawyers should be allowed to make known their services not only through reputation but also through organized information campaigns in the form of advertising. Advertising involves an active quest for clients, contrary to the tradition that a lawyer should not seek clientele. However, the public’s need to know about legal services can be fulfilled in part through advertising. This need is particularly acute in the case of persons of moderate means who have not made extensive use of legal services. The interest in expanding public information about legal services ought to prevail over considerations of tradition. Nevertheless, advertising by lawyers entails the risks of practices that are misleading or overreaching.

[6] This Rule permits public dissemination of information concerning a lawyer’s name or firm name, address, email address, website, and telephone number; the kinds of services the lawyer will undertake; the basis on which the lawyer’s fees are determined, including prices for specific services and payment and credit arrangements; a lawyer’s foreign language ability; names of references and, with their consent, names of clients regularly represented; and other information that might invite the attention of those seeking legal assistance.

[7] Questions of effectiveness and taste in advertising are matters of speculation and subjective judgment. Some jurisdictions have had extensive prohibitions against television and other forms of advertising, against advertising going beyond specified facts about a lawyer, or against “undignified” advertising. Television, the Internet, and other forms of electronic communication are now among the most powerful media for getting information to the public, particularly persons of low and moderate income; prohibiting television, Internet, and other forms of electronic advertising, therefore, would impede the flow of information about legal services to many sectors of the public. Limiting the information
that may be advertised has a similar effect and assumes that the bar can accurately forecast the kind of information that the public would regard as relevant.

[8] A lawyer may advertise the fact that a subjective characterization or description has been conferred upon him or her by an organization as long as the organization has made inquiry into the lawyer’s fitness and does not issue or confer such designations indiscriminately or for a price.

Area of Expertise/Specialization

[9] This Rule permits a lawyer to indicate areas of practice in communications about the lawyer’s services. If a lawyer practices only in certain fields or will not accept matters except in a specified field or fields, the lawyer is permitted to so indicate. However, a lawyer may not communicate that the lawyer is a “specialist,” practices a “specialty,” “specializes in” a particular field, or that the lawyer has been recognized or certified as a specialist in a particular field of law unless the communication is regarding patent matters or admiralty law or in accordance with paragraph [10] of this Comment. Recognition of specialization in patent matters is a matter of long-established policy of the Patent and
Trademark Office. The designation of admiralty practice also has a long historical tradition associated with maritime commerce and the federal courts.

[10] A lawyer is permitted to communicate that the lawyer is a specialist or has been certified or recognized as a specialist when the lawyer has been so certified or recognized by an organization accredited by the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates. However, before a lawyer may communicate that the lawyer is a specialist, the lawyer must first register the specialty certification with the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education in accordance with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 21. A lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer has received any certification of specialty from the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education.

Firm Names

[11] A firm may be designated by the names of all or some of its members, by the names of deceased or retired members where there has been a continuing succession in the firm’s identity, or by a trade name such as the “ABC Legal Clinic.” A lawyer or law firm also may be designated by a distinctive website address or comparable professional designation. Although the United States Supreme Court has held that legislation may prohibit the use of trade names in professional practice, use of such names in law practice is acceptable so long as it is not misleading. If a private firm uses a trade name that includes a geographical name such as “Springfield Legal Clinic,” an express disclaimer that it is not a public legal aid agency may be required to avoid a misleading implication. It may be observed that any firm name including the name of a deceased or retired partner is, strictly speaking, a trade name. The use of such names to designate law firms has proven a useful means of
identification. However, it is misleading to use the name of a lawyer not associated with the firm or a predecessor of the firm, or the name of a nonlawyer.

[12] It is not necessary to change a law firm’s name or letterhead when a member of the firm interrupts his or her practice to serve, for example, as an elected member of the Tennessee General Assembly, so long as the lawyer reasonably expects to resume active and regular practice with the firm at the end of the legislative session. Such a hiatus from practice is not for a substantial period of time. If, however, a lawyer were to curtail his or her practice and enter public service for a longer or indefinite period of time, the lawyer’s firm would have to alter its name and letterhead.

[13] Lawyers sharing office facilities, but who are not in fact associated with each other in a law firm, may not denominate themselves as, for example, “Smith and Jones,” for that title suggests that they are practicing law together in a firm.

Record of Advertising

[14] Paragraph (c) requires that a lawyer retain a copy or recording of any advertisement for two years after its last dissemination, along with a record of when and where the advertisement appeared. If advertisements that are similar in all material respects are published or displayed more than once or distributed to more than one person, the lawyer may comply with this requirement by retaining a single copy of the advertisement for two years after the last of the materially similar advertisements are disseminated. A lawyer may comply with the requirement of paragraph (b) by complying with guidelines that may be adopted by the Board of Professional Responsibility concerning certain types of advertisements, including websites, email, or other electronic forms of communication or of changes to such communications.


“Firm” and “Law firm” See RPC 1.0(c)
“Fraud” See RPC 1.0(d)
“Material” and “materially” See RPC 1.0(o)
“Reasonable” See RPC 1.0(h)
“Substantial” and “Substantially” See RPC 1.0(l)
“Written” See RPC 1.0(n)


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