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False, Misleading, and Worth Your Attention

In August, the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates approved changes to its Model Rules of Professional Conduct concerning advertising. In October’s Illinois Bar Journal, ISBA General Counsel Charles Northrup, in light of the ABA’s decision, revisits the fundamental principle set out in Illinois Rule of Professional Conduct (IRPC) 7.1 — that lawyers may not make false or misleading communications about themselves, their practices, or their services. Given the ABA’s recent action, Northrup suggests revisiting this fundamental principle is worthwhile.

Northrup emphasizes “while the words ‘false and misleading’ may sound like two sides of the same coin, they each cover broad sets of behaviors. What is ‘false’ should be clear enough. For example, when seeking to represent clients in Illinois, if the lawyer says he or she is licensed to practice law in Illinois, when in reality he or she is not, the statement about Illinois licensure is false. Whether a communication is ‘misleading’ may require a more nuanced analysis. The IRPC state a communication can be false or misleading ‘if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.’”

Read Northrup’s entire column in the October issue of the Illinois Bar Journal.

Posted on October 8, 2018 by Rhys Saunders
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