A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services. 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 as a whole 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 lawyer’s services, unless the comparison can be factually substantiated.


       [1]This Rule governs all communications about a lawyer’s services, including advertising permitted by Rule 7.2 of these Rules. Whatever means are used to make known a lawyer’s services, statements about them should 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 not 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 any appropriate disclaimer or qualifying language may preclude a finding that a statement is likely to create unjustified expectations or otherwise mislead a prospective client.

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


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

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

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

      (2)   pay the usual charges of a not-for-profit lawyer referral service or qualified legal assistance organization, which charges, in addition to any referral fee, may include a fee calculated as a percentage of legal fees earned by the lawyer to whom the service or organization has referred a matter, provided that any such percentage fee shall be used only to pay the reasonable operating expenses of the service or organization and to fund public service activities of the service or organization, including the delivery of pro bono legal services; and

      (3)   pay for the purchase of a law practice in accordance with Rule 1.17 of these Rules.

      (c)   Any communication made pursuant to this Rule shall include the name of at least one lawyer responsible for its content.


[1]To assist the public in 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. Advertising involves an active quest for clients, contrary to the tradition that a lawyer should not seek clientele. However, the public’s need to know about legal services can be fulfilled in part through advertising. This need is particularly acute in the case of persons of moderate means who have not made extensive use of legal services. The interest in expanding public information about legal services ought to prevail over considerations of tradition. Nevertheless, advertising by lawyers entails the risk of practices that are misleading or overreaching.

       [2]This Rule permits public dissemination of information concerning a lawyer’s name or firm name, address and telephone number; the kinds of services the lawyer will undertake; the basis on which the lawyer’s fees are determined, including prices for specific services and payment and credit arrangements; a lawyer’s foreign language ability; names of references and, with their consent, names of clients regularly represented; and other information that might invite the attention of those seeking legal assistance.

       [3]Questions of effectiveness and taste in advertising are matters of speculation and subjective judgment. Some jurisdictions have had extensive prohibitions against television advertising, against advertising going beyond specified facts about a lawyer, or against “undignified” advertising. Television is now one of the most powerful media for getting information to the public, particularly persons of low and moderate income; prohibiting television advertising, therefore, would impede the flow of information about legal services to many sectors of the public. Limiting the information that may be advertised has a similar effect and assumes that the bar can accurately forecast the kind of information that the public would regard as relevant. Similarly, electronic media, such as the Internet, can be an important source of information about legal services, and lawful communication by electronic mail is permitted by this Rule. But see Rule 7.3(a) of these Rules for the prohibition against the solicitation of a prospective client through a real-time electronic exchange that is not initiated by the prospective client.

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

Paying Others to Recommend a Lawyer

       [5]Lawyers are not permitted to pay others for channeling professional work. 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, 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 Rule 5.3 of these Rules for the duties of lawyers and law firms with respect to the conduct of nonlawyers who prepare marketing materials for them.

[6]A lawyer may pay the usual charges of a prepaid legal services plan, not-for-profit lawyer referral service, or qualified legal assistance organization. A prepaid legal service plan is a group legal service plan in which the cost of the services are prepaid by the group member or by some other person or organization on the member’s behalf. It is a plan by which legal services are rendered to individual members of a group identifiable in terms of some common interest and must otherwise satisfy the requirements of Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes Chapter 488. A lawyer may also share legal fees with a not-for-profit lawyer referral service that recommended employment of the

lawyer in the matter, as permitted by Rule 5.4(a)(4) of these Rules. See Rule 1.0(h) (Terminology) section for the definition of “Qualified legal assistance organization.”

[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 Rule 5.3 of these Rules. Legal service plans and lawyer referral services may communicate with prospective clients, 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 prospective clients 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 of these Rules.

[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) of these Rules. Except as provided in Rule 1.5(e) of these Rules, a lawyer who receives referrals from a lawyer or nonlawyer professional must not pay anything solely 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. Conflicts of interest created by such arrangements are governed by Rule 1.7 of these Rules. 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.


Back to All Attorney Advertising Conduct Home