7.2-A Aspirational Goals for Lawyer Advertising

These aspirational goals are intended to provide suggested objectives that all lawyers who engage in advertising their services should be encouraged to achieve in order that lawyer advertising may be more effective and reflect the professionalism of the legal community.

(a) A lawyer should ensure that any advertising that the lawyer communicates or causes to be communicated by publication, broadcast, or other media is informative to potential clients, is presented in an understandable and dignified fashion, and accurately portrays the serious purpose of legal services and our judicial system. When advertising, though not false or misleading, degenerates into undignified and unprofessional presentations, the public is not served, the reputation of the lawyer who advertises may suffer, and the public’s confidence in the legal profession and the judicial system may be harmed. Lawyers who advertise should recognize their obligation to advance the public’s confidence in the legal profession and our system of justice. In furtherance of these goals, lawyers who advertise should:

(1) avoid statements, claims, or comparisons that cannot be objectively substantiated;

(2) avoid representations that demean opposing parties, opposing lawyers, the judiciary, or others involved in the legal process;

(3) avoid crass representations or dramatizations, hawkish spokespersons, slapstick routines, outlandish settings, unduly dramatic music, sensational sound effects, and unseemly slogans that undermine the serious purpose of legal services and the judicial system;

(4) avoid representations to potential clients that suggest promises of results or will create unjustified expectations such as “guaranteed results” or “we get top dollar awards”;

(5) clearly identify the use of professional actors or other spokespersons who may not be providing the legal services advertised unless it is readily apparent from the context of the advertisement that the actor or spokesperson does not provide the advertised legal services (e.g., a radio advertisement in which the speaker does not purport to be the lawyer or a member of the firm);

(6) avoid the use of simulated scenes, actors who portray lawyers, clients or participants in the judicial system, and dramatizations unless they are clearly identified as such;

(7) avoid representations that suggest that the ingenuity or prior record of a lawyer, rather than the merits of the claim, are the principal factors likely to determine the outcome of the representation; and

(8) avoid representations designed to appeal to greed, exploit the fears of potential clients, or promote a suggestion of violence.

(b) The responsibilities set forth in this Rule are aspirational and not to be enforced through disciplinary process.


COMMENTS

[See Reporter’s Notes.]


REPORTER’S NOTES:

Rule 7.2-A, derived from M. Bar R. 2-A, is not based on or included as part of the Model Rules. The Aspirational Goals in M. Bar R. 2-A were adopted by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court on February 1, 2005 to “provide assistance to lawyers who seek to know, not what is the minimally acceptable behavior for a lawyer, but rather, what conduct attorneys should aspire to achieve in their efforts to advance the professionalism and credibility of the profession.”[3] The Rule’s adoption by the Supreme Judicial Court followed a 2002 review of the advertising rules conducted by the Advisory Committee on the Rules of Professional Responsibility, which was charged with the task of recommending whether the advertising rules should be changed, and if so, in what way. The Advisory Committee considered the advertising rules from other jurisdictions. It conducted an open forum for the purposes of soliciting comments from Maine lawyers. The Advisory Committee received a number of comments, and after consideration of these comments, it ultimately concluded, “. . . the aspirational goals will encourage lawyers who advertise to do so in a dignified and professional manner without infringing on the First Amendment’s protection of commercial speech.”[4]


FOOTNOTES

[3] SEPARATE STATEMENT OF CHIEF JUSTICE SAUFLEY, REGARDING THE COURT'S ADOPTION OF ASPIRATIONAL GOALS FOR LAWYER PROFESSIONALISM, WITH WHOM JUSTICES CLIFFORD, RUDMAN, DANA AND LEVY JOIN, January 12, 2005.

[4] Letter from Michael A. Nelson, Chair of the Advisory Committee on the Rules of Professional Responsibility, to Chief Justice Saufley, September 25, 2002.