Advertising Legal Services: Lawyers Forget About Showing Off By Referring To Your Famous Clients' And Their Brands!

Author:Dr. Felix Hofer (Hofer Lösch Torricelli)
Profession:Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance (GALA)
  1. In most European countries marketing of legal services performed both by individual professionals as well as by law firms has always resulted in a delicate task. While lawyers are not prevented from promoting their firms and the services offered, such marketing is however subject to various restrictions. 'Aggressive' marketing practices - as commonly used in several foreign countries, such as the US - are considered in many European jurisdictions to result in improper conduct, as such not allowed and easily sanctioned as infringement of the Bar Associations' ethic rules.

    The general criteria governing what a lawyer is entitled to do for promoting his firm are laid down in the Charter of Core Principles of the European Legal Profession (adopted in Brussels on 24 November 2006) and in the Code of Conduct for European Lawyers (in force - with amendments and integrations - since 28 October 1988). The Charter and the Code constitute a Self-Regulation system administered by the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE, details at the URL

    On the premise that the Charter considers as one of the core principles lawyers always need to bear in mind that of the "dignity and honor of the legal profession, and the integrity and good repute of the individual lawyer", the Code sets (in Section 2.6.1. - Personal Publicity) that: "A lawyer is entitled to inform the public about his or her services provided that the information is accurate and not misleading, and respectful of the obligation of confidentiality and other core values of the profession. Personal publicity by a lawyer in any form of media such as by press, radio, television, by electronic commercial communications or otherwise is permitted to the extent it complies with the requirements of 2.6.1."

  2. In Italy, such core ethic rules were enforced - for decades - in a rather strict way, making advertising through traditional marketing techniques almost impossible to perform for lawyers. However, the impact of the Internet - together with the risk of being questioned by the EU institutions for anti-competitive regulations - have determined a more relaxed approach to the issue.

    The current version of the Italian Bar Association's Ethic Code now allows lawyers to provide - in the interest of the public - information about their professional activities, about the organization and structure of their firms and about the scientific...

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