St. Mary's Law Journal
A Texas lawyer desiring to place an advertisement in the Yellow Pages to offer legal services faces significant obstacles. Not only must he ensure that the ad conveys the correct image of the firm, but he must also comply with a number of specific requirements imposed by the Texas Code of Professional Responsibility. Two of the more dogging Code provisions are subsections (B) and (C) of Disciplinary Rule (DR) 2-101.
Between the requirements of these two subsections, the likely result is that the Yellow Pages ad will be a tangle of disclaimers, provisos, and footnotes if the project is to comply with the Code provisions and not be entirely abandoned. Compliance is especially perilous because there is virtually no scholarship or precedent on how subsection (B) should be interpreted and only limited guidance available bearing on subsection (C). In response to these predicaments, it is helpful to chart, from an academic’s perspective, a safe course between DR 2-101(B) and (C), which can then assist both practicing attorneys and those charged with enforcing these requirements.
Regarding subsection (B), the best course for the practitioner is to attempt in good faith to furnish prospective clients with the most accurate picture possible as to who will likely provide legal services or how that decision will be made. As to subsection (C), it is clear that any time an ad names an area of practice or otherwise conveys the impression that the attorney has special expertise in a given field, an appropriate disclaimer must be included. Until such time as the relevant language is authoritatively interpreted or revised, this is all that one can reasonably be expected to do in navigating the trouble-fraught waters of subsections (B) and (C).
Vincent R. Johnson, Yellow Pages Legal Ads in Texas: The Complexities of DR 2-101(B) & (C), 17 St. Mary’s L. J. 1 (1985).