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Rule 7.1. Communications Concerning a Lawyer's Services

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A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services.  Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, a communication is false or misleading if it:

(a) contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement, considered in light of all of the circumstances, not materially misleading;

(b) is likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve, or states or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate the rules of professional conduct or other law; or

(c) compares the lawyer’s services with other lawyers’ services, unless the comparison can be factually substantiated.

Ethics Committee Comment

The 2002 version of ABA Model Rule 7.1 eliminated subsections (a)-(c) of the former version of the Model Rule in favor of a more general prohibition on false or misleading communications.  The New Hampshire rule retains subsections (a)-(c) because of the specific guidance they provide to the practitioner.  At the same time, the New Hampshire rule adopts the general prohibition on false or misleading communications and provides explicitly that the subsections of the rule are illustrative, not limiting.  New Hampshire Rule 7.1(a) also maintains the provision of the predecessor New Hampshire rule that a determination of whether a communication is materially misleading must be made “in light of all the circumstances.”

ABA Comment to the Model Rules

[1] This Rule governs all communications about a lawyer's services, including advertising permitted by Rule 7.2. Whatever means are used to make known a lawyer's services, statements about them must be truthful.

[2] Truthful statements that are misleading are also prohibited by this Rule. A truthful statement is misleading if it omits a fact necessary to make the lawyer's communication considered as a whole not materially misleading. A truthful statement is also misleading if there is a substantial likelihood that it will lead a reasonable person to formulate a specific conclusion about the lawyer or the lawyer's services for which there is no reasonable factual foundation.

[3] An advertisement that truthfully reports a lawyer's achievements on behalf of clients or former clients may be misleading if presented so as to lead a reasonable person to form an unjustified expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client's case. Similarly, an unsubstantiated comparison of the lawyer's services or fees with the services or fees of other lawyers may be misleading if presented with such specificity as would lead a reasonable person to conclude that the comparison can be substantiated. The inclusion of an appropriate disclaimer or qualifying language may preclude a finding that a statement is likely to create unjustified expectations or otherwise mislead the public.

[4] See also Rule 8.4(e) for the prohibition against stating or implying an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.