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Rule 7.1. Communications Concerning a Lawyer's Services.

 

Colo. RPC 7.1(2012)
Rule 7.1. Communications Concerning a Lawyer's Services.
 **reflects changes received through March 13, 2012**

 

 

(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:

(1) contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading;

(2) compares the lawyer's services with other lawyers' services, unless the comparison can be factually substantiated; or

(3) is likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve;

(b) No lawyer shall, directly or indirectly, pay all or a part of the cost of communications concerning a lawyer's services by a lawyer not in the same firm unless the communication discloses the name and address of the non-advertising lawyer, the relationship between the advertising lawyer and the non-advertising lawyer, and whether the advertising lawyer may refer any case received through the advertisement to the non-advertising lawyer.

(c) Unsolicited communications concerning a lawyer's services mailed to prospective clients shall be sent only by regular U.S. mail, not by registered mail or other forms of restricted delivery, and shall not resemble legal pleadings or other legal documents.

(d) Any communication that states or implies the client does not have to pay a fee if there is no recovery shall also disclose that the client may be liable for costs. This provision does not apply to communications that only state that contingent or percentage fee arrangements are available, or that only state the initial consultation is free.

(e) A lawyer shall not knowingly permit, encourage or assist in any way employees, agents or other persons to make communications on behalf of the lawyer or the law firm in violation of this Rule or Rules 7.2 through 7.4.

(f) In connection with the sale of a private law practice under Rule 1.17, an opinion of the purchasing lawyer's suitability and competence to represent existing clients shall not violate this Rule if the lawyer complies with Rule 1.17(d).

 

Source: (f) added and adopted June 12, 1997, effective July 1, 1997; entire rule and comment amended and adopted June 12, 1997, effective January 1, 1998; entire Appendix repealed and readopted April 12, 2007, effective January 1, 2008.

 COMMENT

 [1] This Rule governs all communications about a lawyer's services, including advertising permitted by Rule 7.2 and solicitations governed by Rule 7.3.

 [2] The touchstone of this Rule, as well as Rules 7.2 through 7.4, is that all communications regarding a lawyer's services must be truthful. Truthful communications regarding a lawyer's services provide a valuable public service and, in any event, are constitutionally protected. False and misleading statements regarding a lawyer's services do not serve any valid purpose and may be constitutionally proscribed.

 [3] It is not possible to catalog all types and variations of communications that are false or misleading. Nevertheless, certain types of statements recur and deserve special attention.

 [4] One of the basic covenants of a lawyer is that the lawyer is competent to handle those matters accepted by the lawyer. Rule 1.1. It is therefore false and misleading for a lawyer to advertise for clients in a field of practice where the lawyer is not competent within the meaning of Rule 1.1.

 [5] Characterizations of a lawyer's fees such as "cut-rate", "lowest" and "cheap" are likely to be misleading if those statements cannot be factually substantiated. Similarly, characterizations regarding a lawyer's abilities or skills have the potential to be misleading where those characterizations cannot be factually substantiated. Equally problematic are factually unsubstantiated characterizations of the results that a lawyer has in the past obtained. Such statements often imply that the lawyer will be able to obtain the same or similar results in the future. This type of statement, due to the inevitable factual and legal differences between different representations, is likely to mislead prospective clients.

 [6] Statements that a law firm has a vast number of years of experience, by aggregating the experience of all members of the firm, provide little meaningful information to prospective clients and have the potential to be misleading.

 [7] Statements such as "no recovery, no fee" are misleading if they do not additionally mention that a client may be obligated to pay costs of the lawsuit. Any communication that states or implies the client does not have to pay a fee if there is no recovery shall also disclose that the client may be liable for costs.

 [8] Finally, Rule 7.1(c) proscribes unsolicited communications sent by restricted means of delivery. It is misleading and an invasion of the recipient's privacy for a lawyer to send advertising information to a prospective client by registered mail or other forms of restricted delivery. Such modes falsely imply a degree of exigence or importance that is unjustified under the circumstances.