In U.S. News & World Report, McGuireWoods’ Tom Spahn Discusses Ethics of Legal Advertising

November 2, 2023

Regulations on legal advertising are varied, evolving and sometimes fuzzy about what is ethical, McGuireWoods Tysons counsel Tom Spahn told U.S. News & World Report in an Oct. 25, 2023, story about how lawyers can market within the bounds of legal ethics rules.

The U.S. Supreme Court first legalized attorney advertising in 1977. Since then, states have become more lenient about lawyer marketing and courts often strike down onerous limitations, U.S. News reported.

Spahn, a commercial litigator and McGuireWoods’ legal ethics counsel, told U.S. News that there is probably more variance among states on ethics rules for attorney advertising than there is on any other issue, so attorneys contemplating new advertising should consult their state bar association rules and protocols.

“All the restrictions are eroding,” Spahn said about formal limitations on advertising.

Solicitation — communicating directly to a person with whom the attorney has no personal or professional relationship — is still usually forbidden. But the line between advertising and solicitation often is blurry and depends on how intrusive the communication is, Spahn said.

Spahn is a pioneer in researching, analyzing and reporting on legal ethics and privilege topics. He has delivered more than 2,200 CLE programs around the world and authored several books on attorney ethics.