Opinion 2016-8 withdraws Opinions 89-24 and 2000-6 and gives guidance on Client Testimonials in Lawyer Advertising and Online Services. The opinion addressed truthfulness in advertising and communication of a lawyer’s services in Rules 7.1 and 7.2 and the restrictions on revealing information relating to representation in Rules 1.6 and 1.9 when evaluating a client testimonial.
The opinion stated:
- A lawyer may include a client testimonial in advertising so long as it does not constitute a false, misleading, or nonverifiable communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services or create unjustified expectations for prospective clients. Testimonials generally referring to favorable outcomes for clients must contain an appropriate disclaimer to avoid unjustified expectations.
- Client testimonials in an advertisement that state the amount of a settlement or verdict are inherently misleading even if a disclaimer is used.
- A lawyer is responsible for monitoring testimonials and reviews made by clients on websites if the lawyer controls the content of the website. Online testimonials or reviews from clients about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services that contain false, misleading, or nonverifiable communications must be removed by the lawyer when the lawyer has control over the online content.
If a lawyer has or is considering ads that include testimonials, this opinion should be reviewed.
Click here to view the Malpractice Alert Nov/Dec 2016.