November 2021

Court orders comment period and public hearing on MSBA lawyer advertising petition

In late June the MSBA filed a petition (ADM10-8005) requesting changes that would bring Rule 7 of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC), which governs attorney advertising, into alignment with ABA Model Rule 7, which was revised in 2018. The MSBA’s proposed amendments respond to trends in developing First Amendment law and antitrust law that favor deregulation of truthful communication about the availability of professional services. The federal courts have recognized that lawyer advertising is commercial speech protected by the First Amendment, and the MRPC should not unduly restrict the ability of lawyers to truthfully communicate information about their services.

The proposed amendments would continue to protect clients and the public from false and misleading advertising, but give lawyers freedom to use newer, more innovative technologies to communicate the availability of legal services while limiting bar discipline to truly harmful conduct. They would also increase consumer access to accurate information about the availability of legal services and thereby expand access to legal services. The proposed changes seek to:

(1) harmonize and simplify the advertising and client communication rules of many jurisdictions that have adopted complex, detailed, and inconsistent advertising rules that impede lawyers’ ability to expand their practices and thwart clients’ interests in obtaining needed services;

(2) acknowledge the advent of social media and the internet as vehicles that enable clients to search for information about lawyers and law firms and likewise enable lawyers and law firms to communicate efficiently with potential clients about their ability to provide legal services tailored to the needs of the clients; and

(3) preserve and foster Minnesota’s certified specialist program, in recognition that recent decades have brought about a greater need and demand for attorney specialization.

The Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board (LPRB) and the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (OLPR) filed a petition requesting amendments to Rule 7 identical to those proposed by the MSBA with one exception (pertaining to the language attorneys may use when holding themselves out as specialists).

The Court has set a deadline for comment of December 20, 2021, with a public hearing scheduled for January 26, 2022. The MSBA wishes to thank Fred Finch, the primary drafter of the MSBA petition, along with former MSBA President Mike Unger, who assisted in the drafting and will represent the MSBA at the hearing. 

Steve Perry
(612) 278-6333


Adverting Manager
Erica Nelson
(763) 497-1778


Classified Ads
Jackie Duvall-Smith
(612) 333-1183

Art Director
Jennifer Wallace
(612) 278-6311