RICHMOND, Va. (Legal Newsline) – Technology has changed the way almost everyone does business, and lawyers are no exception.

The Virginia State Bar’s Standing Committee on Legal Ethics has approved proposed amendments to Rules 7.1-7.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, according to the bar’s website.

Changes to three of the rules pertain to advertising, which mostly used to be done in print and newspapers, said Cullen Seltzer, an attorney with Sands Anderson PC. Seltzer recently wrote a blog post about the changes, which still need final approval from the Virginia State Bar Council on Feb. 25, and then the Virginia Supreme Court.

“They needed updating because so much of the old rules dealt with printed mailings, brochures or ads in a newspaper,” Seltzer told Legal Newsline. “That’s just not true anymore. Our advertising and communication come mostly electronically. Sometimes they’re video, sometimes they’re writing and sometimes they’re a blog post.”

According to the bar’s website posting about the rules’ changes, the proposed adjustments to Rules 7.1, 7.4, and 7.5 largely derive from a report and recommendation issued by a committee of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers. 

The report describes the need to simplify and modernize lawyer advertising rules in light of changes caused by the rise of internet marketing and communications, and in light of increasing concern about the viability of constitutional or antitrust challenges to advertising regulations.

Seltzer also said the rule changes deal with simplifying language and procedures.

“These seem pretty sensible. They seemed clearer and better tailored than what preceded them,” he said.

According to the bar’s website, the committee decided to streamline the rules to focus on the core issue of preventing false or misleading speech.

“The overriding principal on the new rule is don’t be misleading and don’t take advantage of your role as a lawyer,” Seltzer said.

Another change is to rule 7.1, a new comment that will permit a lawyer to communicate a specialization. 

Some of the rules will be deleted, attesting to the simplifying that Seltzer describes.

Rule 7.4, which talks about when and how a lawyer can communicate his field of practice and certification, will be deleted. Also Rule 7.5, regulating lawyer and firm names and letterheads is recommended for deletion, according to Seltzer’s blog.

Seltzer said the rules are always discussed by lawyers around the state.

“Because of the nature of the lawyer’s job, somebody’s almost always looking at something," he said. “We think about them a lot.”

Seltzer said he posts three or four blogs annually.

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Virginia State Bar
1111 East Main Street
Richmond, VA - 23219

Virginia Supreme Court
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Richmond, VA - 23219

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