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
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
“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.