You have asked this Committee for an opinion as to whether a lawyer or law firm listing itself as a "lawyer referral service" in the Yellow Pages of the Philadelphia telephone directory constitutes a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct when that lawyer or law firm does not provide a referral service.
Among its responsibilities, the Professional Guidance Committee provides guidance to other committees of the Philadelphia Bar Association. The Association's Lawyer Referral & Information Service (LRIS) Committee is the committee on whose behalf this inquiry was made.
We believe that portion of the Rules of Professional Conduct pertaining to "information about legal services" and in particular, Rule 7.1 pertaining to "communications concerning a lawyer's services" provides the answer to your inquiry. Rule 7.1 provides that: "A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer's services." Rule 7.1(a) provides that a communication is 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."
It is our opinion that a lawyer or law firm procuring a listing in the Yellow Pages under the category of "lawyer referral service" when that lawyer or law firm does not provide a referral service is uttering a misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer's services. Under these circumstances, such listing would constitute a violation of Rule 7.1(a).
- For Members
- For the Public