Advisory Opinion: 2008

Year Issued: 2003

RPC(s): RPC 7.1, 7.4

Subject: Advertisement in print medium

The inquirer submitted a print advertisement for review by the committee. The committee opined that it had reviewed the inquiry regarding the proposed advertisement and assumes for the purposes of its response that the facts stated in the advertisement are true. The statement the inquirer proposes to the effect that the inquirer limits his practice to major injury claims due to medical malpractice may not violate RPC 7.4. The citation of specific jury verdicts is generally disfavored because it may create unjustified expectations and, thereby, violate RPC 7.1. If, however, the inquirer decides to include such statements, a disclaimer must be present and must at a minimum be displayed at least as prominently as the references to results themselves and contain information that would lead a reasonable person to understand that the lawyer is not claiming to be able to reproduce such results in a particular case.

The committee recommends that the disclaimer preceding the specific jury verdict examples state the following: The following cases are offered as examples of actual cases this firm has acted as counsel but does not represent the validity and/or value of any other claim for injury.

In addition, the specific statement that the inquirer has experience obtaining “[n]umerous [s]ettlements from $1,000,000” may be inherently misleading as the term “numerous” is, by definition, indicative of an indeterminate number.

Finally, the inquirer’s use, at the bottom of the proposed advertisement, of the logos of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the statement that the inquirer has “[t]he highest obtainable rating in [p]erformance and [e]thics” from Martindale-Hubbell, and the logo of “The Best Lawyers in America”, may be inherently misleading in violation of RPC 7.1 when the advertisement would be circulated to members of the general public, without further explanation of the meaning, nature or significance of the various affirmations. The committee points out that if such affirmations appear in professional legal publications whose audience is the professional community they would not likely violate RPC 7.1.


Advisory Opinions are provided for the education of the Bar and reflect the opinion of the Committee on Professional Ethics (CPE) or its predecessors. Advisory Opinions are provided pursuant to the authorization granted by the Board of Governors, but are not individually approved by the Board and do not reflect the official position of the Bar association. Laws other than the Washington State Rules of Professional Conduct may apply to the inquiry. The Committee's answer does not include or opine about any other applicable law other than the meaning of the Rules of Professional Conduct.