RPC 7.1, 7.2(b)
Linking firm website with lawyer ratings website
The inquirer asks the committee to opine about an ethical dilemma based on the following:
The inquiring attorney is the managing partner of a large law firm. A lawyer rating & directory company has approached the firm in regard to linking the firm’s website to the company`s independent attorney ratings. The firm wishes to add easy access to the ratings provided the linking is permissible under applicable ethical rules.
Would a link to the lawyer rating & directory company`s independent attorney ratings on a firm’s website violate the RPCs?
This response is based on the assumption that the proposed link is just to the lawyer rating & directory company`s web page containing an explanation of what the ratings are and how they are arrived at. The applicable Rule of Professional Conduct is RPC 7.1, which states that all communications concerning lawyer’s services for which the lawyer is responsible must be truthful and complete. Thus, a lawyer is responsible for ensuring that all communications made on a web site and all links therein concerning the lawyer and the lawyer’s services are truthful and are otherwise in compliance with the RPCs. The company`s ratings identifying the lawyer’s experience and qualifications do not appear to be false or misleading, and inclusion of a link to the rating system does not appear to violate RPC 7.1.
Nonetheless, the advertisement should be retained for the appropriate period under RPC 7.2(b), as should any links contained within the web site. Care should be taken to regularly review the information at the linked site so that changes to such information can be monitored and copied for compliance with the rules.