Supreme Judicial Court Rules

Rules of Professional Conduct

Supreme Judicial Court Rules Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2: Advertising (effective until October 1, 2022)

Effective Date: 07/01/2015
Updates: Adopted March 26, 2015, effective July 1, 2015

Table of Contents


Subject to the requirements of Rules 7.1 and 7.3, a lawyer may advertise services through written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media. 


A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services, except that a lawyer may: 


pay the reasonable costs of advertisements or communications permitted by this Rule; 


pay the usual charges of a legal service plan, not-for-profit lawyer referral service, or qualified legal assistance organization; 


pay for a law practice in accordance with Rule 1.17

(4) refer clients to another lawyer or a nonlawyer professional pursuant to an agreement not otherwise prohibited under these Rules that provides for the other person to refer clients or customers to the lawyer, if 

(i) the reciprocal referral agreement is not exclusive, and 

(ii) the client is informed of the existence and nature of the agreement; and 

(5) pay fees permitted by Rule 1.5(e) or Rule 5.4(a)(4)


Any communication made pursuant to this Rule shall include the name of the lawyer, group of lawyers, or firm responsible for its content. 


[1] To assist the public in learning about and obtaining legal services, lawyers should be allowed to make known their services not only through reputation but also through organized information campaigns in the form of advertising. 

[2] [Reserved] 

[3] [Reserved] 

[3A] The advertising and solicitation rules can generally be applied to computer-accessed or other similar types of communications by analogizing the communication to its hard-copy form. Thus, because it is not a communication directed to a specific recipient, a website or home page would generally be considered advertising subject to this Rule, rather than solicitation subject to Rule 7.3. For the distinction between advertising governed by this Rule and solicitations governed by Rule 7.3, see Comment 1 to Rule 7.3. 

[4] Neither this Rule nor Rule 7.3 prohibits communications authorized by law, such as notice to members of a class in class action litigation. 

Paying Others to Recommend a Lawyer 

[5] Except as permitted under paragraphs (b)(1)-(b)(5), lawyers are not permitted to pay others for recommending the lawyer’s services or for channeling professional work in a manner that violates Rule 7.3. A communication contains a recommendation if it endorses or vouches for a lawyer’s credentials, abilities, competence, character, or other professional qualities. Paragraph (b)(1), however, allows a lawyer to pay for advertising and communications permitted by this Rule, including the costs of print directory listings, on-line directory listings, newspaper ads, television and radio airtime, domain-name registrations, sponsorship fees, banner ads, Internet-based advertisements, and group advertising. A lawyer may compensate employees, agents and vendors who are engaged to provide marketing or client development services, such as publicists, public-relations personnel, business-development staff and website designers. See also Rule 5.3 (duties of lawyers and law firms with respect to the conduct of nonlawyers; Rule 8.4(a) (duty to avoid violating the Rules through the acts of another). 

[6] A lawyer may pay the usual charges of a legal service plan, not-for-profit lawyer referral service, or qualified legal assistance organization. A legal service plan is a prepaid or group legal service plan or a similar delivery system that assists people who seek to secure legal representation. A lawyer referral service is a consumer-oriented organization that provides unbiased referrals to lawyers with appropriate experience in the subject matter of the representation and affords other client protections, such as complaint procedures or malpractice insurance requirements.. A qualified legal assistance organization is defined by Rule 1.0(j)

[7] A lawyer who accepts assignments or referrals from a legal service plan or referrals from a lawyer referral service must act reasonably to assure that the activities of the plan or service are compatible with the lawyer’s professional obligations. See Rules 5.3 and 8.4(a). Legal service plans and lawyer referral services may communicate with the public, but such communication must be in conformity with these Rules. Thus, advertising must not be false or misleading, as would be the case if the communications of a group advertising program or a group legal services plan would mislead the public to think that it was a lawyer referral service sponsored by a state agency or bar association. Nor could the lawyer allow in-person, telephonic, or real-time contacts that would violate Rule 7.3

[8] A lawyer also may agree to refer clients to another lawyer or a nonlawyer professional, in return for the undertaking of that person to refer clients or customers to the lawyer. Such reciprocal referral arrangements must not interfere with the lawyer’s professional judgment as to making referrals or as to providing substantive legal services. See Rules 2.1 and 5.4(c). Except as provided in Rule 1.5(e), a lawyer who receives referrals from a lawyer or nonlawyer professional must not pay anything for the referral, but the lawyer does not violate paragraph (b) of this Rule by agreeing to refer clients to the other lawyer or nonlawyer professional, so long as the reciprocal referral agreement is not exclusive and the client is informed of the referral agreement. Such arrangements are governed by Rule 1.7, and therefore require the client’s informed consent in writing. Reciprocal referral agreements should not be of indefinite duration and should be reviewed periodically to determine whether they comply with these Rules. This Rule does not restrict referrals or divisions of revenues or net income among lawyers within firms comprised of multiple entities.

Downloads for Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.2: Advertising (effective until October 1, 2022)


Updates: Adopted March 26, 2015, effective July 1, 2015