Mo. R. Gov. Bar Jud. 4-7.1

As amended through October 3, 2023
Rule 4-7.1 - Information About Legal Services - Communication Concerning a Lawyer's Services

A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer's services.

A communication is false if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law.

A communication is false or misleading if it:

(a) omits a fact as a result of which the statement considered as a whole is materially misleading;
(b) is likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve;
(c) proclaims results obtained on behalf of clients, such as the amount of a damage award or the lawyer's record in obtaining favorable verdicts or settlements, without stating that past results afford no guarantee of future results and that every case is different and must be judged on its own merits;
(d) states or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;
(e) compares the quality of a lawyer's or a law firm's services with other lawyers' services, unless the comparison can be factually substantiated;
(f) advertises for a specific type of case concerning which the lawyer has neither experience nor competence;
(g) indicates an area of practice in which the lawyer routinely refers matters to other lawyers, without conspicuous identification of such fact;
(h) contains any paid testimonial about or endorsement of the lawyer, without conspicuous identification of the fact that payment has been made for the testimonial or endorsement;
(i) contains any simulated portrayal of a lawyer, client, victim, scene, or event without conspicuous identification of the fact that it is a simulation;
(j) provides an office address for an office staffed only part-time or by appointment only, without conspicuous identification of such fact; or
(k) states that legal services are available on a contingent or no-recovery-no-fee basis without stating conspicuously that the client may be responsible for costs or expenses, if that is the case.

The presumptions that statements are misleading contained in Rule 4-7.1(c), (g), (h), and (k) shall not apply to a not-for-profit organization funded in whole or in part by the Legal Services Corporation established by 42 U.S.C section 2996(b) or to pro bono services provided free of charge by a not-for-profit organization, a court-annexed program, a bar association, or an accredited law school.

Mo. R. Gov. Bar Jud. 4-7.1

Adopted September 28, 1993, effective 7/1/1995. Amended September 19, 2005, effective 1/1/2006, Rev.7/1/2007. Amended November 25, 2009, est. July 1, 2010.

COMMENT

This Rule 4-7.1 governs all communications about a lawyer's services, including advertising permitted by Rule 4-7.2. Whatever means are used to make known a lawyer's services, statements about them should be truthful.

SUPPLEMENTAL MISSOURI COMMENT

This Rule 4-7.1 is not intended to alter the definition of "competence" as defined in Rule 4-1.1.

Rule 4-7.1 prohibits false or misleading communications. False and misleading statements have never enjoyed the limited first amendment protection afforded to other forms of commercial speech by Bates v. State Bar of Arizona, 433 U.S. 350 (1977), and its progeny.

Rule 4-7.1(c) allows a verifiable statement regarding the number of cases tried or handled in a particular area without the disclaimer language of Rule 4-7.1(c).

Rule 4-7.1(h) addresses the practice of using testimonials and endorsements by entertainers, sports figures, or other well-known persons. Rule 4-7.1 requires the disclosure of the fact that a payment was made to obtain the testimony or endorsement, thereby giving the public an opportunity to evaluate the credibility of the statement. Rule 4-7.1(i) deals with simulations primarily utilized in the electronic media.

Rule 4-7.1(i) permits simulations of a lawyer, client, victim, scene, or event if the advertising indicates that it is a simulation that is being portrayed. The simulation must contain a disclosure that it is a simulation in order to counteract any suggestion that the representation is a portrayal of actual fact. Rule 4-7.1(i) also permits a communication to contain a picture or other representation of the lawyer or lawyers providing the legal services that are the subject of the advertisement.

"Price" advertising can provide a valuable service to consumers of legal services and is not discouraged by the Rule 4. However, characterization of rates or fees chargeable by the lawyer or law firm such as "cut-rate," "lowest," "giveaway," "below cost," "discount," or "special" is misleading unless the comparison can be factually sustained.

A communication is false or misleading if it states or implies that the lawyer is able to influence improperly or upon irrelevant grounds any tribunal, legislative body, or public official.

A communication that portrays a former judge in a robe or in the courtroom accompanied by a reference to the lawyer as "judge" may be misleading as it may create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve.